How to create an effective visual marketing strategy

There are multiple dimensions behind visual content marketing strategies. In order to help you run a successful campaign, this article will focus mainly on three key components: photography, branding, and advertising. As you will see, choosing the right images, knowing your brand’s values, and understanding the psychology behind advertising will all tie in to one another to bring you a killer visual content campaign. Successfully tackling all three of these components will guarantee you an effective visual marketing strategy.

1. Use photography techniques

Photographers and graphic designers use a few key techniques to generate optimal visual appeal in their work, several of which are unheard of in the marketing world. Although they may come off as a bit technical or over-analytical at first, using these techniques can give your visual content the extra kick needed to make it truly captivating. First on the list is: 

The Rule of Thirds.

The rule of thirds is a visual technique used by photographers and designers that implements a grid system as a guideline for visual appeal. The rule advises you to divide your image into thirds by inserting 4 lines and creating 9 segments, like the image below. The rule suggests that the most aesthetically pleasing images are those in which the main content of the photo is located on one of the grid intersections.

Quick tip: you can activate the grid as an overlay on your Android or iPhone (via Settings in the iPhone or View Finder on Android).

The Golden Ratio.

If you would really like to get technical about selecting and editing your images, you can use the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci sequence as arithmetic methods of creating the most visually appealing content. Simply put, the Golden Ratio states that the ratio of a smaller segment to a larger segment is the same as the ratio of a larger segment to the sum of both. You can understand this more easily by looking at the formula below. To follow the golden ratio, both values should equate to 1.6180339.

This ratio can be used for taking and editing photos, choosing images, and even formatting blog posts (think: header, footer & body format). Outside of the marketing world, the Golden Ratio has been used by artists and architects for centuries. So, if you admire the design of Le Corbusier you may be interested in trying this out!  To test if the aspect ratio of an image fits the golden ratio, divide the width of your image by the height.

In the case that your photo is in landscape format (the width is greater than the height), your answer should be 1.6180339.  In the case that the image is in portrait format (the height is greater than the width) than the answer will be 0.6180339. Alternatively, you can use the formula to calculate a missing value. So, if your image is in landscape format and the width is 600 pixels, the height for a golden ratio would be approximately 371 pixels. If this is too much work, you could always use a Golden Ratio calculator like this one. 

The Fibonacci Sequence.

Another tool for creating ideal visual content is the Fibonacci sequence. This is a series of numbers in which the succeeding value is equal to the sum of the two preceding values. It looks like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 … And so on. Interestingly enough, this is related to the Golden Ratio. If you divide any value in the Fibonacci series by the preceding number, you will get a value that is approaching the Golden Ratio mark. If you combine the Fibonacci squares to build a Golden Ratio rectangle, show to the left. You can use this as a more detailed template for creating appealing ratios in visual design. This can come in handy if your image doesn’t exactly fit the Rule of Thirds.

The Phi Grid.

The Phi Grid is an alternative option to the Rule of Thirds (ROF). It uses the Golden Ratio to adjust the Rule of Thirds grid in order to accommodate a different photo perspective. While the ROF grid divides the columns and rows each into 1:1:1 ratios, the Phi Grid makes the center column and row slightly more narrow by implementing a 1:1.618:1 ratio instead. The Phi Grid is often a useful tool for landscape photos because photographers typically use the horizontal lines as guidelines for horizons.

 

2. Stop using bad stock photos

Whether you are in the photo industry or not, today, nearly anyone can tell if you are using cheesy stock images.  With an immense amount of high quality images at your finger tips, choosing to use bad stock photos will give consumers the impression that your company has poor judgement and little care for the visual design of your brand. More importantly, poor-quality, seemingly-posed stock images appear as disingenuous and will create a disconnect between your brand and your clientele.

Spotify is an example of a company that knows how to choose high quality stock images. Although they are a music provider, images provide for a large part of their communication as well as their brand. The company outlines in their 2013 Brand Identity Guidelines that imagery is one of their most important brand assets.  So, what qualities does Spotify look for in stock images? The first is that the image is candid and real. Images that are close-up and personal are significantly more effective in triggering emotion and generating trust in your brand. 


The second is micro or macro. Using different perspectives will enhance your photos by giving them more dimension than the average narrow-framed stock photo. 


Lastly, they focus on place & personality. Because Spotify’s product is used by a wide range of individuals in a diverse range of places, they make sure to capture this in the images they use by showing different types of people in different types of places. 

 

3. Maintain consistency in visual marketing

Maintaining consistency can be one of the most difficult tasks of visual marketing. Although it is important to tweak your visual content for each target audience, you should be sure to create themes in order to maintain some consistency within your brand. You can do this by: 

Pre-selecting your color palettes, fonts, templates and overlays.

This will allow you to create variation while also keeping in mind the key characteristics of your brand’s visual content. Some other tips: don’t use more than two fonts per image and keep text minimal. 

Creating your own guidelines.

Aside from style, you can also achieve consistency in the content itself.  Skype’s marketing strategy uses a set of guidelines to guarantee a sense of cohesion and harmony throughout their ads. Their guidelines for choosing a photo urge employees to pay attention to a range of specific details, such as the number of people in the photo as well as whether or not the image is colorful and free of filters. It also helps to choose 1–3 main images and 4–7 alternate images that can be used interchangeably for some duration. Of course, these guidelines will change depending on your company’s values, preferences, and mission.

At Dashmote, our visual consultants help businesses create a unique and consistent brand that is representative of your company by finding the style and content that works best for you. Find out more at Dashmote.com

If this has tickled your fancy, you’ll definitely be interested in our in depth white paper with more insights, examples, and useful hints & tips about creating the ultimate visual marketing strategy. Click here.

Remember that credibility surpasses creativity. While it is important to think outside the box, you should always keep in mind that the successful visual marketing strategies are those that communicate their message in a clear, genuine, and cohesive manner.

And, of course, for a hassle-free, high quality image search process always check out Dashmote.com. If you are interested in trying our visual consulting services, contact us via phone (+31622333933) or email for details.