4 Min Read - Push Notifications

The Psychology of Visuals: A Quick Guide To Rich Push Notifications

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The human brain can see images that last for just 13 milliseconds. That is marginally lesser than the blink of an eye. (Source)

Isn’t that incredible? We process images much faster than text. An average human has about 9 to 21 senses, but 70% of the sensory reports are in the eye. In fact, half of your brain is responsible for just processing visuals; your brain is technically an image processor. It takes longer to comprehend words, as compared to images. See for yourself:

psychology of visuals
The graphic description took you less than a second, didn’t it? [Image Source]

They say, a picture is worth a 1000 words. It is, indeed. Precisely why, every channel on the internet is indulging in more visual content. As it happens, the internet has seen an increase of 9900% in the use of visual information since 2007, in the form of images, infographics, videos, vines, gifs, etc.

But, what was once scarce, is now in excess. We have reached an era with an overabundance of content, and we skim and scroll our way through thousands and thousands of bytes of content regularly. So, how do you deliver engaging content to skimmers? Use Push Notifications.

Push Notifications are already empowering marketers; they can send snackable communication in real-time. But, with a limit of 148 characters, there is a dire need to go beyond clever copywriting. So, say hello to rich push notifications, and use the power of pictures to tell stories, convey messages, encourage clicks, and more.

Enrich your Push Notifications

You can make your notifications more clickable, just by including thumbnails and big hero images. With the help of these images, you can control how your audience understands you and your brand. They help provide more context to your communication, engage more,  and potentially trigger responses and emotions using visuals.

psychology of visuals

Available for Business and Enterprise users of PushCrew, the big image feature allows you to add banners to your push notifications. This feature is currently supported by the Chrome browser (version 56 onwards) for both Android and Web. On the other hand, the thumbnail icon is available for everyone, and is typically used to add a company logo. 


By combining the power of big hero images and thumbnails, you can make your push notifications more visually communicative. You can send attractive and explanatory push notifications to your users, experiment with graphics, understand the likes and dislikes of your subscribers, and so much more. Adding visuals to your push notifications can benefit you in several ways:

TIP: Not all notifications work well with visuals. You need to experiment with sending notifications, see how your audience responds to both kinds, and make a push notification strategy accordingly.

1) Add Context and Increase Comprehension

In this a fast-paced world, you have to think twice before giving anything your precious 2 minutes. Nobody has the time to sit and read about your brand. We demand valuable content, with instant knowledge, and minimal effort.

psychology of visuals

Images are the best way to convey your message quickly, and should be created for better and faster understanding. Here’s an example: Have you ever noticed the road signs while driving? If they were a textual description, how long will it take for you to understand them?!  

psychology of visuals
Know what I mean? [Image Source]

Through visuals, your audience can know who you are, and what you are up to with a single glance. Adding images to your push notifications will not only make them attractive, but will add context for the audience, increase comprehension, and increase the possibilities of triggering an emotion.

2) Build Emotional Connections

Did you know that your emotions compel you to take action and they influence decision making in your everyday lives? Precisely why emotions are inherent in marketing, and are critical to building relationships with your audience. And since visuals prompt faster reactions as compared to words, they are far more engaging.

The visual memory is encoded in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, which is the same place where emotions are processed (Source)

What is a brand? It’s merely a visual representation of a product in the customer’s mind. And brands have been associating products with emotions for a long time. Emotions drive humans, and thus, help you fuel your brand. In fact, even colors trigger emotions, and this is called Color psychology; but we shall talk about it later in this article. With visuals, the audience can associate the product with emotions, and therefore, make faster buying decisions.

3) Boost Retention

Now that we know that visuals affect us in a cognitive as well as emotional level, we can safely conclude that visuals also boosts our retention. When you combine textual information with a visual, it increases the possibility of remembering said information.

Visual imagery improves learning by 400%.

Seeing a visual helps us retain the information and recreate it in our minds later. The online education industry is using more and more visuals to increase their students’ retention. In fact, according to a study, after 3 days, a user retains only 10 to 20% of written or spoken information, as compared to retaining 65% of any visual information.

Related: An Uncomplicated Guide to Push Notifications for Online Learning Websites

Since your audience can retain the communication that you are pushing out through push notifications, you can reinforce your message, and thereby encourage brand recall.

psychology of visuals

4) Influence Decision Making with Color Psychology

Attractive and relevant images can make a huge impact on your user’s journey. But, to make your audience connect with you mentally, you need to know about color psychology. According to the psychology of color, colours can affect people cognitively and emotionally. And it plays a huge part in marketing and advertising.

Researchers found that, 90% of the times snap judgements are made about products based on color alone. (Source)

In fact, it is paramount to think about your company logo. The color palette of your logo will also have a lasting impression of your brand. Every hue enkindles an emotion. You should use the colours which prompt an emotion, and make sure it resonates with your brand. With the thumbnail feature, you can send your logo with every push notification, and give them a reason to like your brand.

psychology of visuals

But how does it affect decision making exactly?

Well, the virtual cortex of your brain not only interprets images, but also has the power of decision making.

5) Inspire Brand Recall

When you combine content with relevant visuals, it increases brand recall. Push notification(s) is the perfect tool to achieve optimum brand recall. Put together a copy, your logo (as a thumbnail), with a smart and beautiful big hero image, and you can compel your users to remember you, consciously and subconsciously, with well-timed push notifications.

Keeping all of the above in mind, you can create an incredibly visual content strategy for your push notifications. Go ahead, pick out the necessary design elements, create emotional and strong visuals, and connect with your users on a psychological level.

The human brain thinks in pictures. If you think of an apple, then you will see an image of an apple in your mind. It’s simply how the brain works.

We have not evolved for words, we have evolved for images (Source).

About the author

Radhika Chugh

Content Marketer at PushCrew

Sign Up for the latest stories on Marketing Communications and User Engagement from the Crew