4 reasons visual communication is essential to product-based companies

Effective communication is critical to the success of your product. And across the entire product lifecycle there is a huge amount of information which needs to be communicated between your internal teams, as well as with external stakeholders such as suppliers and customers. Visual communication is essential to your success in managing this knowledge transfer for five reasons: It’s faster; it transcends language barriers; it’s ideally suited to describing objects; it becomes more powerful as complexity increases; and, finally, because with a little adjustment, you could probably be doing it far more effectively.


Think of all the information and ideas related to your product which need to be communicated over the course of its existence from conception to end of life: What the product is; the value it can deliver; what it looks like; how it’s built; how it’s fitted, implemented, or used; how it’s maintained, modified, and repaired; and, eventually, how it is deactivated, removed, and disposed of. For all of these important concepts and processes to be communicated effectively your teams need to deliver absolute clarity to minimize the time it takes for everybody to understand what they need in order to play their role.

Visual communication is almost always the best way to achieve that clarity, to cut inefficiency, errors, and delays, reduced missed opportunities – and it can be a powerful tool in driving sales.

▸ see how the Envision Creator empowers everyone to become a visual communicator

1. visual communication is fast

There is a reason the phrase “I see” means “I understand” – and that it is so often the phrase used at the point of realization after a lot of explaining has been done. For sighted humans, seeing and understanding are almost always the same thing.

visual communication is 60,000 times faster

Our brain shave evolved to be able to process visual information at an incredible rate. Over 90 per cent of the information we process is visual in nature, and studies have shown that we can process an image 60,000 times faster than we can process text. Neuroscientists at MIT have found that the human brain can process an image which the eye has seen for just 13milliseconds. Think about that in terms of manufacturing work instructions or maintenance documentation and the time it takes to ensure required tasks are understood. Think about it in terms of sales teams communicating the value of a new product to a prospective customer who is time poor and easily distracted. Effective visual communication drives faster time to understanding. And understanding drives business.

2. visual communication is universal

We live in a world of international relationships, intertwined cultures, and varied demographics. Wherever a company is headquartered, and wherever a product might be considered to be manufactured, it is guaranteed that one of the following applies: Overseas suppliers are part of the chain; overseas customers are part of the market; non-native speakers are present in the workforce, target market, or after-market providers; there is a range of literacy levels among native speakers across the organization and ecosystem.

US appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp. recently cited its median worker salary as that of a full-time employee in Brazil. For A. O. Smith, which manufactures water heating and treatment solutions, the median worker salary was that of a full-time employee in Nanjing, China.

But wherever an employee is based, whatever languages they speak (and to what degree), and whatever their literacy level, they can all understand images and visualizations of objects and processes.

“It can be hard to get details across when we’re talking to our overseas suppliers about a specific feature of a product that we need. But visual communication goes a long way to solving that problem.”

— David Whritenour, Founder of Titan Flow Control, and Canvas Envision customer

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3. visual communication is ideal for describing objects and processes

Manufacturing companies devise and execute processes to make objects. In almost every instance, visual representation of processes and objects are easier for people to understand than text descriptions, and text is better deployed for detail and context than for global description.

Moreover, the ability to use color and texture as a means of differentiation adds huge range of options to any visual communicator’s toolset.

One of the clearest examples we’ve encountered of this came from a Canvas customer using our software to visualize a 100-page scheduling document detailing planned maintenance for a nuclear reactor.

product team

He explains: “These schedules are not laid out in a way that many people can easily understand, and they can drive you nuts. The guys on my team don’t want to flip all the pages and read all those words; what they want are illustrations.” What started out as a means of optimizing communication among his team quickly expanded into a means of keeping a much broader audience of stakeholders informed of work in progress, he says.

4. the effectiveness of visual communication increases with complexity

The more complex the object or process which is being described, the more powerful visual communication becomes. To return to the point made earlier, if we canunderstand an image 60,000 times faster than we can process text, a complex object which may consist of many individual subcomponents becomes unmanageably difficult to describe with out visualization. The same goes for long and complex processes.

When your products – and their value propositions and selling points – depend on being able to communicate the specifics with clarity, visual communication wins everytime.

canvas envision – transform your company’s visual communication

How good visual communication is within your organization depends on a number of variables. What are you communicating? What software are you using? What outputs do you need? Who is creating the assets, and how adept are they with your software? Who is your audience, and how do they consume the assets you create?

For product-based companies, 3D CAD models are typically the best means of visualizing products. But access to those models is restricted to team members with specialized training and CAD software. Meanwhile your audience may be able to understand the images in your documentation but those images only tell part of the story.

Canvas Envision drives measurable improvements in visual communication workflows by empowering everyone in your organization to quickly and easily create interactive visual documents which leverage real 3D CAD models.

  • Single platform for the creation and consumption of all visual content
  • Empowers everyone – including non-technical users – to embed interactive 3D CAD in any document
  • Smart tools including instant annotation, single-click callouts, auto-trace, and more
  • Autonomous and optimized workflows reduce dependency on engineering teams saving time and expense
  • Content can be consumed through any browser, audience able to interact with models to view individual parts, metadata, and view from all angles
  • Real-time collaboration with mark-up and chat function
  • Rapid updates and linked models remove stale data and reduces document maintenance

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collaborative creativity

Envision is about working together.

You can share the documents you’re working on with colleagues and team members wherever they’re located. They can interact, mark-up, feed-back, clarify, and sign off. Perfect for working in distributed teams, for checking product details with your engineering team and for clearing the finished document with sales and business development teams.

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