12 Ways A Visual Strategy Powers Business
Most people can appreciate how important visuals are for grabbing someone’s attention and communicating an idea clearly and succinctly. But the way you drive business results is through a visual strategy.
A well-executed visual strategy extends your brand, bringing together all of your company’s communications and engagement into one unified effort — both online and offline. Your visual strategy should be targeted, compelling, and consistent — targeted to accomplish your goals, compelling to attract and draw people in, and consistent to continually reinforce your business messaging.
Businesses without a visual strategy aren’t taking full advantage of what 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 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 — it is also where many companies falter, adding to the noise rather than cutting through it.
2. Humanizes business interactions
People tend to shy away from stodgy, off-putting business images. The right visuals can make a company more approachable, especially 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 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 your messaging.
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 with everyone else.
9. Unifies diverse business messages
Businesses typically have different messages they need to communicate to different customers or market niches. A smartly branded visual campaign makes a powerful, cohesive statement — bringing all your various messaging together beneath one brand umbrella.
10. Establishes credibility and trust
A presentation that exudes professionalism is always a winner. Businesses that button-up their brands and communications in a way that projects a well thought-out, organized, quality organization, will always be more credible than those that do not. The thinking goes that if they take this much care with themselves, they’ll take the same care with their customers 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 advocate for you. A well-conceived visual strategy provides 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 harnesses 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 can make it happen.
I hope you see why it makes sense to pay attention to your business’s visual strategy. For more on this, I also discuss 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 basic concept, or worse, cut corners and diligently execute a flawed plan that only ends up hurting them the more in the end — 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 — and if, like most businesses, you do not possess the resources to do it yourself, I urge you to contact someone with the skills to do it for you. It’s too important to get wrong.
Are you thinking visually? And are you also thinking strategically? If not, what’s holding you back?
Photo illustration work and infographic: Paul Biedermann, re:DESIGN