Coronavirus ‑ Leveraging visual communications

By Christine Duffy

Visual communication has always been central to propagating messages to people. For centuries, design has been used as a vehicle to spread information, whether its news, ideas, political views, announcements or instructions. Effective visual communication evokes an emotional response in its audience, influencing a change in certain social behaviours.

With many countries in total lockdown and social distancing measures in place, people are craving connection now more than ever. A recent report released by Kantar reveals web browsing has increased by 70% and social media use has increased by 61% over its normal use – with more people stuck inside, more content is being consumed. However, with everyone personally feeling the impact of the pandemic, companies are being forced to re-evaluate how they engage with consumers. A shift has already been seen in the way companies are communicating with their audiences; less of a focus is being put on selling products and more focus is being put on keeping people connected and entertained during these difficult times.

There is a big opportunity for companies to maintain their reputation during this time and rethink how they approach communications from a visual perspective:


No matter what area your business operates in, now is the time to show your support. Some of the world’s most recognisable brands have adapted their iconic logos to acknowledge the impact of Covid19. The popular fast-food chain Mc Donald’s in Brazil updated the iconic logo, along with global brand, Volkswagon, who both showed their commitment to the battle against Covid19 in a simple yet powerful manner. Through design, the global brands instantly connect with their audiences, creating an emotional connection by acknowledging that we’re all in this together.


The United Nations has embraced visual communication to spread important public health messages throughout the pandemic. In its recent call for creatives, the UN engages with a broad range of graphic designers to develop striking and hard-hitting imagery that quickly delivers vital health information and guidance to the general public. Used in this form, imagery enables for messages to be absorbed and understood quickly by a larger cohort of the public, supporting greater movements of change.


Guinness faced the cancellation of St Patrick’s Day celebrations proactively with a video message to their consumers, with the reassuring message of: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll march again’. This was depicted through authentic scenes and a relaxed tone, demonstrating the brand’s knowledge of its consumers.


Illustrator Mariano Pascual released a new series of surreal illustrations titled ‘The Lockdown’, captivating spectator’s attention through his humours depiction of the reality of life during lockdown. The relatability of the message combined with masterful storytelling, vibrant colours and humorous scenes feels inclusive and uplifting.


While the world is struggling on many fronts due to this pandemic, there is still space for laughter. Now more than ever it is needed. Brands shouldn’t be afraid to inject some humour into their marketing designs. IKEA successfully created both a light-hearted and socially-informative advert that was instantly recognisable as the Swedish home brand.

When this is global crisis has passed and customers and clients reflect over the past number of months, they will think of the businesses who stood out during this pandemic; those who showed leadership, supported the cause and did the right thing. Now is not the time to shy away and look after ‘oneself’. Now is the time to come together, to work together and to support those who need it most so we can all come out of this together.

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