Have you ever thought that storytelling is not just about the words that we use?

Your words are very important and clearly the best way to tell stories with a narrative is to use words either vocally or written to communicate them to people, but there is another way that you can use storytelling. One way you can get your point across in a really powerful way is to use visuals. This might be the missing piece of your brand.

You probably have a logo, you’ll have social media, you will have a font, you might have colours – all useful parts of your brand – but do you have illustrations or icons or symbols? Do you use infographics? Do you have specific imagery for your brand that helps you to quickly and powerfully provide clarity to the people who are paying attention so they can see what your message is? So they can get an understanding of what it is that makes you “you”, what makes your business different, so they can get to the heart of what you’re about quickly?

65% of people are visual learners and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, which means that if you’re using visuals to communicate your point you’re going to be able to get that across really fast!

This opens up the opportunity for you to get your brand in front of people in a way that matters, makes sense and sticks in their minds – because people retain visuals in their mind for longer than they’ll retain words. Visuals are a powerful way for you to create an eye-catching brand that is distinctive and differentiates you from other people. A brand that stands out and keeps giving you the opportunity to be recognisable. When people are scrolling through your Instagram feed or visiting your website or viewing your banner across a crowded room they’re going to be drawn to those because they’ll see your visuals, be intrigued – but also they may very possibly have seen them before. They’ll be drawn to them because they recognise them, they feel that they understand those visuals and they relate to them in some way. You can create a whole style for icons, illustrations and symbols that can help create the vibe that you want to create with your brand and help to demonstrate what your brand is all about.

Your visuals can help demonstrate your values, your vision, your message.. and get that across to people really quickly.

There are many different ways that you can create visuals in your business and use them in a a really helpful way. You can create illustrations you, icons, infographics or symbols to show different aspects of your brand and use them

  • on your website
  • on your social media
  • anywhere where you’re printing anything
  • add it alongside text
  • alongside your photograph

These visuals help add an extra layer of information so that people can see it, feel excited about it and gain that extra bit of knowledge that they wouldn’t have got from you otherwise.

When you’re creating social media graphics or putting your website together you can add different elements into whatever you’re creating to give people MORE information about your brand. You might have a pattern that you can use in the background that is behind a photograph of you or on a banner which has space where you can find use for these assets.

An example could be these leaves which is very distinctive pattern to use on posters, appointment and loyalty cards so that the visuals are carried through the brand and creating a particular impression of Zuenziga.

Graphics created using illustrated leaves in dark green and gold.

You can also use different icons in different ways, so Yorkshire Rose candles – I didn’t design the brand but I did put these cards together. I took the roses from the logo to add an extra bit of interest to the card, expanding the visuals. Maybe you can take a visual from your logo to use individually to keep reminding people of your brand?

You may need to create new images to demonstrate different things about your brand. You can use these to accompany the text you already have, so if you’ve said something really important and you have an icon or an illustration that works alongside this to back that up that makes it more interesting and helps people to grasp your point quickly and easily.

You can use your visuals in presentations too. Moira Barnes has a whole set of visuals for her business, she has flowers, coins, bubbles, speech bubbles, laptops, mobile phones, squiggles, hearts and flowers in a red and gold colour scheme which she uses on her social media, in her presentations and in her handouts, workbooks and eBooks. This helps add extra information about selling with heart, and her personality gets through with these visuals too.

Moira Barnes Sales Consultancy Brand illustrations

You can use your brand assets to get your personality across – you can be fun, serious, adventurous, you can show love – you can do so many different things with these to get your brand through to other people. You can also use charts and graphs to get your point across quicker because if visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text and if 65 percent of people are visual learners and the visual imagery is retained for longer than any other kind of information that people might see or read – then it makes sense to make it easy for people to take that in in the best way which would be to use visuals. If you’ve got charts and graphs those will help people remember, but it’s also going to make them more likely to take notice and read what it’s about than if you just pop a statistic up. We all know that storytelling works better than statistics – even though I’ve thrown some statistics into this this!

Storytelling taps into the senses, you can feel it. That’s the great thing about a story, so if you’re also sharing that through your visuals that’s going to be powerful and super useful those who see it. You can make this as simple as using shapes, so it could be always using circles or triangles or hexagons. I did a brand identity recently where everything is a diamond. The way these fit together is really lovely – you can do some great things with that, create patterns, use it on its own, use sections of it, stick other images or text in the shapes – there’s so many things you can do just using one shape to be recognisable.

Lady Hewley Trust

Dropbox and MailChimp use illustrations really well. Dropbox says: “Illustration is wonderful at communicating complex, hard-to-explain, or dry topics—providing humanity and soul to abstract technological concepts. That’s why we’re not shy about using it, especially when we’re educating the user in an onboarding flow or a product 101.” Whilst MailChimp states: “Our new illustration style allows us to communicate about complex tools and marketing practices in a simpler and more human way.”

They get it. Illustrations create a simple, meaningful way for others to understand complicated things and connect with a brand.

My daughter’s learning Japanese with Duolingo which that has really fun little owls, there’s a world and stars which is lovely. There’s Starbucks and Nike where we’ve all seen that these are brands that can be used with just visuals and you know who they are which is really powerful. Yes it’s taken time to get there, but it takes everybody a while to start to recognise things – you can get there too if that’s something that you want to achieve for your brand. We have to keep putting out your visuals so that people know who you are, remember you and ultimately know who you are without needing words to tell them! This happens not just through the shape, your logo, the style of your brand, the colours and the fonts that you use – all those things can help you to be recognisable together.

Another brand that uses illustrations really well is Innocent – right now they have “The Big Rewild” so you can click a button on the corner of the website and flowers will appear around the edges. There are beautiful illustrations to explain it all, to show statistics beautifully with bubbles and pie charts. It’s a great example of how you can use illustration to convey points in a fun way that makes you want to stay there. It’s fun to use and it is really engaging when you’re using illustrations and icons and charts and things like that to explain your point. If you add extra layers through illustration then your content can be super powered.

One of my clients is Claire – she has a book, and I created her brand including a set of illustrations. There’s quite a lot of illustrations inside the book. She uses her five Sober pals inside the book, and her Sober Goals cycle, the colours and illustrations such as the brains. You can use your illustrations to talk about what’s what’s happening, you can use them in a book, you can use them on social media, you can put them on your website – there’s so many different things that you can do with these illustrations once you’ve got them so that they’re incorporated into your brand.

The Soberholic brand visuals

It’s about getting these illustrations, putting them together and using them in all the places. If you have an office then you might find it useful to have images of clipboards, pens, folders, paper clips, plants, inks, pencil pots and office chairs to indicate what you do without actually telling anyone what you do and which can be really fun. You might have tools like saws and planes, crochet hooks, or scissors to emphasise the handmade quality of your products which you can use alongside photographs such as in an online gallery or on printed materials. If you work with food then cutlery or ingredients will add more visual information. A lot of people use characters – you can do so many fun things with these.

Musical Monkeez illustrations
Next & Best Chapter Brand illustrations
Katherine Rein Wellness Brand illustrations

If you have a podcast you can use images of headphones, microphones or sound waves.

You will have a business birthday once a year and may also need graphics to celebrate your own, suppliers, customers or your employees birthdays too, so you could have a set of birthday graphics. There’s useful, general things like arrows or speech bubbles you could have too which can easily be forgotten but are very helpful. Whatever you choose needs to emphasise what you do and create some more visual interest whilst also conveying your brand personality, brand values and mission to help people understand your brand quickly.

According to Microsoft our average attention span is of eight seconds so if you can get people to see your picture of a chess piece or a pen or whatever it is and interest them enough to spend longer engaging with your content, that would be great wouldn’t it? This means thinking creatively about how you can convey what your brand is all about through visuals – you don’t have to just stick to that one visual which may or may not be your logo – you can have multiple visuals. Make sure they’re all the same style and colour scheme so that people recognise them as yours.

If you decide that you’re going to create some visuals, if you are already using some or if you know of somebody who is using visuals well let me know, because I always like to drool over beautiful work – it makes me feel very happy!

Amy Purdie, The Brand Explorer takes you on an Adventure to discover what your brand is all about, helping you with your brand strategy, brand visuals and content ideas. You can join Amy’s Brand Success Club or join her in your very own Private Brand Adventure.

Amy has been enjoying designing logos, brand identities, illustration, print work and websites – since 2007 fuelled mainly by tea and chocolate.

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