With a plethora of visual content trends over the years, it is getting tougher than ever for brands to get noticed and create a strong call to action. One way to beat off the competition is to craft a brand identity through a website that takes into account engaging colors, easy to read typography and symbolic visual elements helping consumers envision the brand value in a simple and clear cut way.
However, the bigger question is who is driving this design revolution? A growing number of bloggers and businesses are recognizing opportunities to communicate in more subliminal moments and say what words alone cannot. The way Instagram drove a photography revolution and created photographers out of every follower there and attractive-looking images and infographics tailored for a variety of social media channels.
There’s only one problem: A lot of it looks the same and doesn’t communicate or persuade very well. Just as buying a canvas, paint, and brushes doesn’t make you a Picasso, nor does using tools like Canva and PicMonkey transform you into a kick-ass graphic designer. I’m not criticizing these tools; I’m just saying that a brand is more than a logo or a specific font. It’s an expression of your customers’ experience. Accordingly, it deserves careful thought and planning.
Just as visitors to your website make decisions about your company based upon its visual appeal, usability, and the quality of the content it contains, the same thing happens in microcosm with every piece of visual content you publish. Well-crafted visuals can help you build trust, differentiate your company, and grow your business. Conversely, poorly-conceived visual content can damage your audience’s perceptions of your brand.
One design consultancy, Visage, puts it bluntly in a recent blog post, Why All Your Visual Content Needs to be Branded, declaring effective visual content as a key to nurturing relationships with audiences:
Audiences have access to a flood of content, so what piques their interest? Content that is cohesive, visually engaging and consistent… demonstrates credibility. It shows that your brand is invested in providing value through communication, that you are considerate of your audience’s time and needs. If the content you create is segmented, siloed or scattershot, with no thought to design or presentation, it will be much harder to nurture that audience relationship.
The attention span of your audience is diminishing
The explosion of visual content means that your audience members are skimming more than ever; they only take a few seconds to view an image and determine whether they should investigate the content it’s promoting or just move on. That’s why consistent branding of visual images is becoming critically important. Ideally, your audience ought to be able to view an image and immediately recognize it as representing your brand. Only a small number of thought leaders and brands are doing this effectively today.
What does this mean to you as a content marketer? Your brand will need to address this issue if you want to rise above the growing maelstrom of mediocre infographics, image quotes, and stock photos to effectively communicate with your target audiences.
- Invest in a competent graphic designer and spend time helping him or her understand the essence of your brand. It will save you money in the long run.
- Developing a visual brand is an iterative process. Test different elements, and keep track of what your audience responds to. Do more of that.
- Create a style guide that details do’s and don’ts for your company’s visual brand, so other members of your team can create images that reinforce it, not damage or detract from it.
- Visuals should be an integral part of your content planning, not an afterthought. Get your graphic designer involved early on in the content creation process; this will increase the odds that you’ll end up with visual elements that support your content and make a positive impact with your target audiences.
- By all means, experiment with free and low-cost visual content creation tools, but establish your brand’s visual content guidelines first, and then stick to them.