Visuals are essential because visual communication is an important approach that people use to share information and communicate. In content marketing, it is an important tool for delivering a message. Emails, social media, instruction manuals, websites, newspapers – visual communication is happening everywhere. On websites, if a visitor sees a page without images or with low-quality and dull ones, he or she will just keep scrolling.
Branded images will make you recognizable as a professional and help you stand out. They are quite versatile, and you can use them on your:
- Ads – to encourage people to stop scrolling and read your post;
- Social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are places where you can use images to get people’s attention;
- Email marketing – make your message “pop” in people’s inboxes;
- Website – to illustrate your podcasts, vlogs, written content, etc.
You can even use them in opt-in incentives, content upgrades, and ebooks, and even if it takes a bit of time and effort to make them, they are definitely worth it.
What Makes a Good Visual and Branded Visual
When making visuals, the thing is not to make something pleasing to everyone, but to use professional-looking and high-quality images that effectively communicate what you want them to. So, it’s more important to have polished and readable visuals than to spend hours on something complicated. As for branded images, they go one step further because they need a consistency of style that will make your images recognizable. They represent either your personal or business brand. To streamline the process, you can create your own style guide in which you define the color palette, types of images, overlays, font pairings, and other graphic elements you’ll use in each image.
Find Your Images
Taking your own stock photos is your best and safest bet. A smartphone with a good camera is all you need, then you can set up indoor desk photos or go outside to take photos in nature. With a simple editing tool, you can have high-quality photos and won’t need to worry about permissions and attributions.
When you’re looking for stock images, you must pay attention to attribution and permission – you can’t just take an image from Google and use it as your branded image because you might risk being sued. You can visit a few stock photo websites and purchase photos there or download those that are available under Creative Commons. If you run an online business and make money from it, make sure your images are licensed commercially. For each image you use, be sure to check the attribution and licensing.
For free stock photos, you can check websites like Flickr, StockSnap, Unsplash, Pixabay, and Burst.
Define Your Brand Style
Before you start editing and posting photos, you need to define your brand style guidelines. Once you do it, stick to them for 6-12 months before making any changes. And when you decide to change something, don’t drift too far away from your original guidelines. Also, be sure to update your old posts with new visuals. All this will help you be recognizable as a brand and save you time.
- Research. Use Pinterest or stock photo websites to research the type of images you like. Search for specific keywords, then find and save your favorites. Think about what in those pictures catches your eye – which design, fonts, or colors? Take notes so you know what you might want to recreate.
- Plan out your branded style. The next step involves considering the color palettes (bright and cheery, black and white, cool, or warm?), the font pairings, and the types of images (photos of offices, of nature, with people, or just design?) you like. Choose commercially free fonts or find some online (but be sure to check the licensing). As for font pairings, be sure to change the thickness and go with a handwriting or cursive font, or a serif font plus a sans serif font. Consider using overlays – the shapes that go over your image where you place the text – and decide whether they’ll be colored and solid or semi-transparent? Jot all your decisions down.
- Template. Open a photo editing program and commit some time to play around with different elements until you find what you like. Having a template will save you lots of time in the future because you won’t have to play around for very long every time you want to create an image. It will take you 10-15 minutes to create a branded image in various sizes to fit different platforms.
Canva and PicMonkey are probably the two best online image-editing sites. They both come with paid and free versions, so you’ll need to explore all their features and decide whether you’ll want to go with a paid plan for one of them.
- Canva costs $119/year. It has many great tools and features, such as a tool to resize any image for social media with a simple click. It allows you to save your projects so you can return to keep working or make changes. Canva is very user-friendly, has templates for everything, from book covers to social platforms, and has great elements and examples to help you with your branded image design.
- PicMonkey is only $33/year, and most of its best features come with the paid plan. It includes a lot of tools and is very simple to use, but the downside is that you cannot save your projects and return to edit your images once you exit the program. If the Flash player crashes while you’re editing a photo, you’ll have to start all over again.
- Snappa is about $100/year and is a design and image-editing software that keeps track of social media image requirements. It comes with photos, tools, and templates to help you.
- Relay is just under $100/year. This is another design and image-editing app you can use to resize your images for different social media platforms. You will need to go with the paid plan in order to exclude the Relay watermark from your images.
Creating great brand visuals to engage your audience and drive traffic to your website or social media doesn’t have to be a hassle or take much of your time. With the right preparation, which includes defining your branded style, finding or taking photos, and creating a template, you will have images that will help you reach more readers. Today’s online world is very crowded, and we cannot ignore the importance of images and other visuals.
For more tips on creating branded images that drive traffic, check out our online marketing crash course! We also share strategies on how to build your brand online, create social engagement, build your email list organically, and so much more!