A well-executed visual strategy will extend your brand, bringing together all of your company’s communications and engagement into one focused effort — both online and offline. For it to be effective, your visual strategy should be targeted, compelling and consistent — targeted to accomplish your goals, compelling to attract rather than repel, and consistent to continually reinforce everything for which you want your business to be known.
Businesses without a visual strategy are neither taking advantage of the visual revolution and all that visuals have to offer, nor are they preventing the slipshod image they are likely projecting through their scattered, haphazard engagement.
Here are 12 reasons why it’s so important for your business to not just use visuals, but to have a visual strategy:
1. Focuses a brand so it speaks with one voice
A laser-sharp, consistent, visually-powerful brand is where it all begins and what needs to be maintained — it is also where many companies falter, adding to the noise rather than cutting through it.
People tend to shy away from stuffy business images, unless they’re after a deal. Visuals are a great way to make a company more approachable, especially when combined with friendly social engagement. Visuals can also be a fun way to show other sides of a business’s personality.
3. Simplifies, clarifies and alleviates confusion
A good visual strategy simplifies complex ideas (diagrams, symbols, infographics, etc.), illuminates stories (photographs, illustrations, etc.), improves user experiences (websites, printed communications, etc.), guides engagement (graphics that highlight information, inspire actions, etc.), and aids customer service to help us accomplish our goals (signage, instructional communications, etc.) .
4. Energizes business, internally and externally
Robust branding and a lively visual strategy stimulates people. It creates more awareness and excites people to work with you or use your products. It also revitalizes people inside the company as well — from the CEO on down. It’s amazing what looking good and feeling good can do for your company’s spirit.
5. Drives desired behaviors and actions
Visuals inspire an emotional connection — the key for deeper engagement and getting your messages to resonate. Recent brain studies prove just how powerful this is. And once people are warmed to your business, they are more receptive to what you are trying to achieve.
6. Harnesses scattered engagement
A consistent visual strategy is the glue that holds everything together. Rather than a disjointed effort with mismatched images of varying quality, an effective visual strategy is seamless — online and offline.
7. Makes business social
People respond to visuals unlike any other content. We love to comment on them, laugh at them, share them, download them, and embed them. An exciting new visual campaign or brand identity can charge people up and give them something tangible to rally behind.
8. Continually reinforces a unique brand story
An effective visual strategy continuously conveys the same story at every point of engagement. Sealing what makes your company unique in the minds of your customers is the difference between standing apart and blending in with everyone else.
9. Unifies diverse business messages
Businesses typically have many different messages they need to communicate to their various customers and niche markets. Rather than having them clash, a visual campaign makes a powerful, cohesive statement that brings them all together under one brand umbrella.
A professional presentation is always a winner. Businesses that button-up their brands and communications in a way that presents a well thought out, quality organization, will always be more credible than those that do not. The thinking goes that if they are this together with themselves, they’ll be this together with the rest of their business operations too.
11. Inspires brand advocates
Beyond garnering attention and making a company feel good about itself, great brands turn loyal fans into those who will also advocate for you. A well conceived visual strategy provides them the tools they need to share with their friends and tell the world what they think of you — quickly and easily.
12. Expands business influence
The more a company can harness its brand into a powerful force that people easily recognize, respect, and even want to help promote — the broader the net will be cast to spread its influence and expand its markets. A strong brand and smart, well-designed visual strategy is the way to make it happen.
I hope you see why it makes sense to pay attention to your business’s visual strategy. I discussed the importance of the visual in 12 Reasons Why Your Business Needs to Get Visual, but businesses wishing to create an effective, dynamic brand need to have a strategy. Many businesses miss this powerful concept, or worse, cut corners and diligently execute a flawed plan that only hurts them the more they try — leaving their customers dazed and confused with each conflicting message. Don’t be one of them! The competition is fierce enough without having to compete against yourself.
Developing a great brand image and visual strategy is a discipline and craft like anything else. It is very difficult to do well. If, like most businesses, you do not possess the resources to do it yourself, I strongly urge you to consider hiring the professional resources you need to get it done — it’s too important to get wrong.
Are you thinking visually? And are you thinking both visually and strategically? If not, what’s holding you back? Either way, let me know in the comments below.
Photo illustration work and infographic: Paul Biedermann, re:DESIGN