Visual Content Strategy
Netimperative, Forbes, and Smart Insights can all agree that visual content is one of the hottest trends taking over the world of marketing today. Why? Because more brands are realising the power that a single image can have on a person, compared to just black and white text or a well thought out speech. With that said, we are seeing a greater influx of infographics, videos, and even memes being used by brands to connect with and impact their audiences.
Humans are essentially visual beings, with our brains being more sensitive to images. With 65% of us being visual learners, we absorb visuals much better than if we were to receive the same information in black and white or verbally. In fact, people are generally 100% more engaged by pictures and videos than with text. We also tend to naturally gravitate more towards visuals, spending twice as much time on pages with visual content.
However, despite humans being more inclined and receptive to visuals, they can be a hit and miss if executed poorly. Even worse, they may evoke the exact opposite effect you may have intended, meaning bad business for your brand.
With that said, Bolt has 3 simple Do’s and Don’ts that could help you out when it comes to visual marketing.
Establish Your Identity As A Brand
If you ever feel stuck as to how to represent your thoughts into effective, impressionable visuals, go back to the basics!
Before letting those creative juices lose, take some time to sit down and understand your brand. Consider what your brand’s mission, vision and beliefs are, and what you want your audience to think or feel when they think about your brand. Knowing what emotions your brand wishes to evoke will help in knowing what kind of visuals to create or share with your audience.
Make Your Visuals Identifiable With A Strong Design Scheme
With visual content being the next big thing, how do you prevent your visuals, which you poured hours into, from getting lost in the crowd?
According to Visage, it is visual content that is “cohesive, visually engaging, and consistent”. Personalise and strengthen your visuals with a fixed set of design elements that can be associated with your brand message, such as a strong, specific set of colours, shapes, fonts etc. As Visage puts it, the absence of consistency will make your content seem “segmented, siloed or scattered” to the audience, and hence appear less believable.
In addition to making your visuals aesthetically pleasing and consistent, pairing the right elements from your design set together can work fantastically in conveying a greater emotional impact, something all brands should aim for with their visual content. An example given by Vanseo Design would be how cool colours tend to be more calming, while warm colours are more energetic and associated with movement, and how shapes that are hard to identify can make the viewer feel tense.
Of course, remember to slap on that brand name and logo to every visual you produce. With all those shares that your unique visual is going to get, you’d want everyone to know that your brand was behind it!
Identify & Understand Your Marketing Platform
From the more traditional photographs and typography to, more recently, stunning videos, creative infographics and interactive presentation slides, the assortment of visuals seem limitless.
With so many visual options for brands to choose from, one might be too eager to experiment with all of them. Unfortunately, not all these options will be suitable for your brand’s online platforms. Therefore, it is important to identify which platforms you’ll be engaging on, and to understand the restrictions of these outlets.
For instance, if your brand is all about informing while also entertaining your audience, take a page out of BuzzFeed’s book and look to YouTube as your main platform. Perhaps you are interested in videos, but wish to make them short and impactful, then maybe platforms like Vine or Instagram will be better for the needs of your brand.
Informative, But Over-Cluttered Visuals
No one likes a mess. It’s not only unsightly, but it also makes it hard for you to find what you need. The same goes for your visual content.
Zero in on the main thing you want to show with your visual. Good visuals should only take a few seconds to convey the message, something easily understood by all at face value. Visuals overloaded with unnecessary visual elements will most likely be ignored and scrolled past, and your message will be missed completely. One visual catastrophe that Content Marketing Institute featured on their site was that of Pepto Bismol, and as its name suggests, it truly was quite abysmal.
Don’t try to pack too much information into a single visual. The human brain dislikes complication and leans towards simpler ideas. If there is a lot of information that you wish to provide, perhaps it would be better to break it up into a few, strong visuals rather than a weak, cluttered mess. If something can be said in an image instead, do away with the text and give the brain what it wants – visuals.
There is a fine line between being inspired by a successful visual, and lifting the concept and idea completely. It’s an issue that has plagued the design community for a long time now, and is still heavily debatable.
Conner Turnbull shares on Tutsplus that a way to avoid this is by analysing a successful visual’s use of good principles and techniques, rather than lifting the entire concept and design. Vanseo Design backs this up, and suggests picking out the parts of the visual that you do like, and coming up with your own version of it, such as your own palette of neutral colours.
Remember, copying someone else’s work, even if it was done by you from scratch, can give your brand a bad reputation, and reduce your credibility among your audience. So… best not to take that risk.
Pretty, But Unrelated Visuals
The entire point of visual content in marketing is to make your audience feel, to tell a story, or to inspire. With that said, as much as visuals help to keep the audience interested, make sure that these visuals are relevant to your brand and your point.
As Digital Marketing Magazine put it, there is no value in shoving images of zero relation to the topic between paragraphs just to act as placeholders. In fact, it might even be more of a distraction. Visme warns us that strong visual content may risk being ignored and disregarded if it is has absolutely nothing to do with your brand, because really, what is the point in that?