I’ve been drawing comics and cartoons on serious topics for many years now. As a professional communicator I’ve come to the following unscientific conclusion on why cartoons work so well when you need to communicate difficult issues or need people to participate.

1.Cartoons make difficult (and boring) ideas more understandable

Have you ever tried to take a photo of a sales process? Or make a video about an employee pension scheme? If you can’t take a photo of it chances are you can still draw it – thanks to visual metaphors.

2. They cut through the clutter

They really stand out in a stream of text, photos and videos.

3. They encourage people to participate

A slick, professionally produced video can kill engagement. Slickness signals that things have already been decided as somebody has had the time to produce an expensive piece of shiny content. The wobbly hand drawn line sends a signal that things are not set in stone, that it is still possible to influence things.

4. They make scary topics less threatening

A cartoon has the power to make something big and powerful into something small and manageable. This is important if you are trying to communicate something that people find scary or unpleasant. Before employees are ready to support a corporate change effort their negative feelings have to be acknowledged. A negative character, or even just a skeptical frown on a character, can do a lot to make people feel heard.

5. They are fast and flexible to make

Cartoons and comics are usually much faster to produce than video or other more production heavy visuals – this means they can become part of an extended, constantly changing communication effort. Cartoons are also flexible: you can add real people from the company as characters without scheduling a video or photography session with people.

6. They make you look more human

Cartoons, or simple illustrations in general, are the opposite of bombastic, corporate and polished. If you want to come across as approachable and friendly and a bit more human then a cartoon is definitely something to think about.

Virpi
@voinonen