In our media-rich online world, where customers are engaged first and foremost by sight, visual elements are incredibly important. Often, visuals are the introduction to your brand and we know that first impressions truly matter.
Our online world is also incredibly competitive, whether you are seeking out views or purchases from your target audience, there are millions of companies doing the same.
Quality visuals are a key differentiator for customer experience and brand image. However, aesthetics are not enough. You might have read about the pitfalls of overused stock images in our article Why Custom Visual Content is a Vital Part of your Digital Marketing Plan.
Let’s explore the how’s and why’s behind custom visual content, and what it can contribute to your personal brand.
What are Custom Visuals
You can probably tell from the name itself, but in other words, custom visuals are original image-based content specifically created for your own business.
The category includes a vast range of media including:
- pictures & photos
- data visualization tools: charts, diagrams, graphs
- live or online videos
- and slides & presentations
New forms of visual content are being invented every day.
Why are Custom Visuals so important in Brand Image today?
58% of digital marketing professionals consider visuals (including videos) as the most important form of content!
Millennial groups with their $200 billion buying power only respond to personalized, original, and engaging visual brand experiences.
Clearly, generic images are no longer going to cut it in digital marketing.
Instead, businesses need to understand how to use custom visual content to:
- Positively impact brand storytelling,
- Build a strong brand that is consistent everywhere from social media, e-commerce to even brick and mortar stores
- Foster customer relationships through customer experiences.
Moving forward, we will address these points and examine some great brands to learn from. You too can apply their proven brand strategies to your own business!
Crafting your Brand Story
What is a brand story anyway?
Brand storytelling is about building a narrative that describes not only the tangible benefits of your personal brand but also the brand’s personality and core values.
A brand story allows your business to build an emotional connection. Your brand will be associated with more than just its product.
When successful brands are able to accomplish this, they can then use it to build brand loyalty.
Thus a brand story is very helpful for small businesses and business owners to differentiate themselves in the crowded marketplace.
How do you use Custom Images in Brand Storytelling?
When you know your brand story you can develop the right image and communicate this to your target audience.
A good example would be the festive Coca Cola campaigns. Their overall brand values align well with the Holidays, and with that in mind, they created the image of Santa Claus we know today who personifies their brand (even the colors).
Thanks to successful annual marketing campaigns, Coca Cola’s brand personality of happiness and celebration has become associated with the heartwarming celebration of the Holidays.
Building an emotional connection through a brand story is effective as it avoids the obvious sales pitch. Coca-cola is now an essential part of many festive celebrations and they got there through brand storytelling, not just by pushing discounts or product features.
Did you know Coca Cola’s jolly Santa Claus has been around since 1931?
Though their ads have adapted to changing times, their key brand elements have stayed the same throughout the retellings of their brand story.
Keeping a Consistent Brand Image
What contributes to a Strong Brand Image?
Having a strong brand image means that customers can easily recognize you from consistent brand elements.
In addition to a strong brand story, there are certain concrete visuals that your brand needs to be easily identified. These include, but are not limited to:
- Brand name
- Brand Color Palette
- Business Cards
These are elements that your customers see and interact with regularly and should closely follow brand guidelines.
More specifically, a brand style guide is needed to steer all advertising and publicity material and ensure that it agrees with the brand image.
Of course, to avoid blending in with the crowd, these elements which help to create a strong brand image must be distinctive.
This is where custom visual elements and images come into play.
Let’s take a look at Apple, a brand that pretty much everyone will recognize from a quick glance at their ads or logo. They have created distinctive and original brand elements that stand out for minimalism and elegance.
That style might not work for everyone, but it is a lesson in thoughtfully designing your own custom visuals and keeping them consistent.
How Brand Image affects your Customer Base?
A strong brand image plays an important role in customer relationships and the entire customer experience.
If you’ve got a good brand image, your customers will feel good about their relationship with you and purchases with your business.
Shoddy visuals will immediately reduce the credibility of your brand.
Using your own custom visual elements lends professionalism throughout your business, so the customer journey feels seamless whether they are making a transaction online or in-person.
Build on that with consistency and foster a sense of reliability; your customers will know exactly what to look out for when it comes to your brand.
When talking about customer journeys, it is essential to build brand recognition on all platforms, and not just purchasing platforms!
Building Brand Identity on Social Media
How do you know if you’ve got a strong brand identity?
In addition to your store or e-commerce platforms, your social media should immediately show your brand personality and brand voice at a glance.
Social media is a titan when it comes to digital marketing opportunities, and is a direct gateway to your target audience or customer base.
A great example of a big brand that has made great use of social media is Nike. The sporting brand holds the top followed Instagram account of 2020. Unsurprisingly, they have exploited the visual nature of the platform very effectively.
Nike has adapted its content to reflect the increasing popularity of collective running, but without sacrificing the content their fans have come to expect. Namely, high-quality images and videos of athleticism with a strong motivational message.
Take a note from Nike and be sure that your social media profiles communicate your brand just as effectively as all other aspects of your marketing.
What custom content can you add to social media?
Social media is one of the easiest ways to share branded custom visuals, and the options are pretty much endless. However, here are some ideas to get interaction from your followers.
- Make your content personalized and local to the region you’re targeting. Be it streaming a live video at an event or sharing a post of a famous landmark – let your customers know that you are in touch with them!
- Learn from successful influencers and don’t be afraid to collaborate. Creating visual content like short videos with others in your niche is a great way to grow your audience organically.
- Link to your e-commerce pages. Instagram, for example, has a marketplace that allows you to link your posts to your site. Be sure to take quality photos of your products and make use of this opportunity.
Whether it’s a tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram story – use the right elements and stay in line with your brand identity and brand image.
Custom Content Marketing
Are custom images really important in written content marketing?
We all know that content is an important part of any marketing strategy. Many companies have blogs to share articles, and content writers work daily on writing new pieces.
In fact, 61% of potential customers are influenced by custom content when making purchasing decisions.
For online businesses, custom content is especially important, as authentic content ranks higher on Google. Google guidelines “particularly discourage pages where neither the images nor the text are original content.”
In addition to quality written content, accompanying images have to measure up too.
What are some simple ways to employ brand images in your content?
If you’ve been using exclusively written material in your content marketing, there are some quick ways you can start incorporating custom visual images into your work.
Infographics are great for sharing on social media platforms which can attract new customers without the use of paid ads.
Another possibility is offering useful branded downloadable content. This will build your site’s reputation as a knowledge base and keep visitors coming back to check for updates.
A good example would be LinkedIn’s free whitepapers. Their whitepapers cover a range of topics, tastefully embody the brand style guide, and are always in line with the brand message of helping individuals with their career.
Adding custom visual content to your usual content is a simple way to improve its quality for both readers and search engines. Just be sure that your custom content is original and high quality (as always).
The bottom line is images are an essential part of building your entire brand identity – from communicating your brand story to creating a brand image on social media. Visuals are surprisingly influential in shaping your customer relationships, and thus directly affect sales and business goals.
Why not make sure these images are truly authentic and represent your company?
Build a brand image truly deserving of your business with help from StudioNow’s professional photographers and production platform.