Visual thinking is using visuals to make it easier to see, understand and remember information.

We see manifestations of it when we see road signs on the road, watch infographics or design new products during Design Thinking workshops.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Visual thinking can be successfully used in medicine, sketchnoting, or – and this will be the topic today – in business.

Why visual thinking is important

We all know that everyone today is bombarded with a huge amount of information every day. We don’t have time to read every email, article or presentation that comes our way.

If we prepare for materials that we would not like to consume ourselves, employees or clients will probably switch off in the process.

Visual thinking allows us to compress the transmitted information into short and easily digestible knowledge pills, so that the information we want to convey reaches the addressee and is not rejected at the very beginning.

An example of how one canuse visual thinking to make information easier to understand. Here: Digital Graphic Recording of a podcast we were invitedto as guests. You can listen to it here and see a full-size vershion of the DGR here.


 6 levels of visual thinking

Visual thinking can be implemented on several levels. The simplest improvements can be made practically without much preparation. The most complex ones require a lot of knowledge and experience.


Level 1: Supplement text with images or icons

One of the simplest methods is to add a photo or an icon that complements the message. This way we make it easier for the reader to connect the dots.

Of course, the visual element must be chosen appropriately or it won’t serve its purpose.

In this slide a picture summarizes and complements what is being said with the text

Level 2: Translating numbers into graphs

This is probably the most popular manifestation of visual thinking. Numbers in a table “don’t tell” readers much, but when they are translated into a graph, the conclusions are suddenly obvious.

The number of TikTok users in the table:

The number of TikTok users in the graph:

A graph is much easier to understand than a list of numbers alone

Level 3: Organize text visually

If you are talking about something complex like a business or marketing strategy, you can build a mind map to organize the whole topic.


An example  of how a mind map can be used in planning PESTLE model. Source of illustration: link 

Level 4: Compress the text into one visualization

This task is more difficult than the previous ones.

While in Level 3 we simply visualize a topic. At level 4, we have to remove unnecessary elements to fit everything into one visualization.

An example of this compression is SWOT analysis, a simple breakdown of strategic information that helps you quickly catch the essence of a company’s strengths and weaknesses. Source of illustration: link 

Level 5: Translating abstract concepts into visualizations

This level usually requires even more knowledge. This is because we wrap the whole thing in a concise visualization that must be created according to design principles.

Although this food pyramid is now considered outdated, it has helped to summarize a vast amount of dietary knowledge in a single graphic that has reached hundreds of millions of people. Source: link

Level 6: Translating information into powerful data visualizations

This level is a combination of all the previous levels.

In a Level 6 visualization:

– we match appropriate icons,

– we illustrate the data with adequate graphs,

– the most important categories are highlighted,

– unnecessary information is removed, and

– it is all summarized in a single graphic.


This visualization was created for entertainment purposes, but it is an example of great data and information visualization. Source: link

Now that we know the levels of visual thinking, let’s move on to specific business examples.


What visual thinking looks like in business: examples

Business is full of abstract concepts.

“Strategy,” “cloud,” or “customer-centricity” are such broad concepts that they often become empty platitudes. Visual thinking allows you to ground them in concrete examples, making it easier for your audience to understand “What did the author mean?”

Here are some examples of how to use such methods.



Internal communication

Imagine you want to tell employees about your company’s strategy or values or how to avoid empty platitudes? You can dress up your message with infographics.

Our remix of an infographic telling the story of Tesla’s business strategy

External communication

Want customers to understand the benefits of your offering in seconds? Then show it to them.

www 3s

Afragment of website for 3S PLAY Group that we designed

www 3s

An example of a hand-made infographic that we used to educate TESCO’s customers about the company’s efforts not to waste food

budynek firmy, koronawirus, nieodebrane połączenie, telecould, odebrane połączenia

Infographic for 3S PLAY Group


Internal communication

If you have the ability to display video, you can also reach your employees with animation, as Coca-Cola did when discussing their content strategy.

A discussion of Coca-Cola’s content strategy

External communication

You can also tell customers about the product in the form of a short story. Just like we did for SHARP.

SHARP’s explainer video 


A lot of companies communicate with slides. The problem, unfortunately, is that many of the slides are an unpleasant wall of text. Instead of fitting into 10 or 15 slides, presentations stretch into dozens and sometimes hundreds of slides.

Visual thinking helps to compress information, so it also helps to reduce the number of slides.


Internal communication

wstrząs anafilaktyczny, mama i dziecko

Slide which was a part of a presentation on digitalization, given by the president of a Polish bank

External communication

zdezorientowany mężczyzna, wiele ikonek połączeń telefonicznych, lejek, uporzadkowane połączenia na komputerze

Infographic for BPS Paribas


Slide that tells investors about planned market development


Sometimes an abstract message is best expressed with a simple comic story.


Internal communication

Abstract principles can be transferred to stories illustrating the so-called DOs and DONTs, i.e. what we should do and not do.

Mondelez 2

Mondelez created comic strips to educate its salespeople about merchandising

External communication

Coca-Cola cartoon to inspire customers to recycle

Graphic Recording:

Graphic Recordings are visual notes made in real-time. They help to organize meetings, list the topics discussed and serve as a reminder and summary of the material. There is more about this topic in the text What is Graphic Recording and Graphic Facilitation.


Internal Communication

Notes from the workshop for the American Embassy in Warsaw on the concept of American Spaces


External communication

Graphic Recording can also be used to summarize conference speeches and podcasts.


Summary of a speech at a conference in Warsaw

What to consider when thinking visually

As you can see, there is a big difference between adding an icon to a slide and creating a complex visualization that summarizes your company’s strategy.

The more advanced visual thinker you are, the more you can do. Information about the elements you should consider before you start:


  1. Understand your target audience and context

Health lessons will look different when targeted to teenage athletes than when targeted to 50-year-old bankers.

The color scheme (rich colors instead of muted colors), form (e.g., drawings instead of computer graphics), and language will change.

It is also worth knowing the broader context, i.e. where the material will be shown, what has been most difficult to understand so far  etc.


  1. Gather all the information in one place.

In order to connect the dots into a meaningful shape, you first need to collect those dots. This is why it is so important for a visual thinker to have access to all the necessary information.


3. Understanding the gist of the message.

Without getting to the heart of the message, it is difficult to visualize that message. Therefore, a visual thinking professional will often ask a lot of questions before proceeding.


  1. Organizing the information.

What is most important? What can be left out? What do we talk about first and only at the end? These questions need to be answered.


  1. Use good design and/or storytelling practices.

Once you know what you are communicating, it is then time to choose the right visual form. Here you need to have knowledge in the field of design, so that the image is clear and visually attractive.


  1. Preparing the material for publication.

Depending on whether the material will be sent, presented or displayed at an event, you need to choose an appropriate form for it.

3 ways to implement visual thinking in your business:

1) Implement on your own


If you want to educate yourself on visual thinking, we recommend the following books:

“Draw Your Thoughts” by Dan Roam,

“Slideology” by Nancy Duarte,

“Visual Thinking in Business” by Karolina Jóżwik and Szymon Zwoliński

“Visual Notes” by Natalia Mikolajek


You will find helpful icon portals at:,,


And stock photo portals:,,



And applications for creating graphics such as:




2) Training with a company that specializes in Visual Thinking

We can help you or your colleagues to master visual thinking.

We had the pleasure to promote this trend in Poland in. Over the years, we have worked for companies such as Google, IKEA and ING.


3) Outsourcing projects based on visual thinking to an external company

If you want to implement graphics, animations or workshops, you can outsource it. We’ve been providing this service since 2010 and we’d love to help you with your projects.

Over the years, we have carried out over 350 initiatives in 19 languages, working for small companies as well as corporations such as Carlsberg, Pfizer and Santander.

If you want to find out how we can help you, you can read more here.