If that question makes you want to run for the hills and hide, stick around — I’ve got you covered.
This article is going to share five easy ways to get started building a visual strategy for your online business.
No design degree required!
These are strategies anyone can implement, starting today.
I’m going to share resources to help you — and plenty of examples so you can see what a memorable visual strategy looks like.
Let’s dive in!
What is a ‘visual strategy?’
A visual strategy is a deliberate approach to business communication using visual elements.
When your visual strategy is clear and you implement it consistently, your visual identity looks cohesive. Your website images, social media images, and video content are “on-brand’ and immediately recognizable anywhere they’re seen.
Why do I need a visual strategy for my online business?
Professional marketers used to be very word-centric. Great marketing was all about great copywriting.
The visuals? They just decorated the words.
Marketers have seen the light about visual marketing — and as an online business owner, you should too.
Today, 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business. Blogging is in second place with a 27% share.
Source: Social Media Examiner
That’s a switch from the copy-heavy content marketing of the past.
The images that you incorporate into your marketing messages are just as important as the copy help your customers understand, connect with, and remember your online business.
The images you use help build your visual brand strategy.
They can enhance your business if you do it right — or undermine trust and authority if you don’t have a carefully thought-out visual strategy.
And it’s not enough to use a single image and call it a day.
An effective brand strategy for visual content will help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed when creating images for blog posts, social media, and other marketing messages.
After analyzing more than 1 million pieces of content, Buzzsumo found the sweet spot — the magic ratio of words to images that seems to increase social shares.
Articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the amount of shares compared to articles with fewer images.
These days, top marketers have seen the light about using visuals.
71% of marketers say visual content is “Very Important” or “Quite important” to their marketing strategy.
Can I really use visual strategy if I’m not a designer?
I understand why you might think visual content creation is something you weren’t “born to do.” But I’m here to tell you …
Even people with no design experience can master visual content marketing.
I know, because I’ve been teaching non-designers how to create their own visual content marketing since 2017. Here’s what one online business owner said:
The other thing that has changed recently?
Design tools used to be out of reach — not anymore.
Design software was expensive, difficult to master, and too technical for the average person.
Well, today we have:
- PicMonkey: My favorite visual content creator! It treats the user like a designer with easy-to-use tools and a friendly interface. PicMonkey offers templates but doesn’t emphasize them — and that’s a good thing. (Why use the same template that thousands of others have used?)
- Canva: This is a much-loved tool that has a bit of a learning curve. Once you’ve scaled it, though, you’ll discover it’s powerful and versatile.
- Stencil: A simple, fast online graphic design tool.
And many more.
It seems that new visual content creation tools pop up every few months.
And the tools mentioned above? They get better every year.
Most include free stock photos. They give you a way to save your brand elements like colors and fonts. You can work collaboratively with your team. You can save your work and re-open it to edit, re-use, or re-purpose it.
They do things that expensive software like Photoshop doesn’t do. ?
Online image editing software is a treasure trove of easy-to-use tools — find the one you like best and learn to use it.
And yes, you’ll need to spend a little to access everything these tools offer. But …
When visual content creation software is easy to use, you’ll use it more often.
5 easy ways to start building your visual identity today
People often hear the word “brand” and think of a logo or word mark. But that’s just a small part of branding.
Your brand includes all your customer’s experiences with your business. That reaches across every platform where they interact with you, including every piece of copy and every image, video, or audio content.
To start building a visual strategy for your online business, you will need to get your visual brand in shape.
You may have already established a brand style. If so, skip to Tip #4 below.
If not, keep reading.
Tip #1: Pinpoint your brand personality
Your brand personality is the way your brand shows up in the world.
Take my free brand personality quiz to pinpoint your brand type.
Your brand personality may be:
Or it might be:
Or maybe it’s something in between?
There’s no right or wrong answer here — there’s just your answer.
Start by identifying your brand personality before you move to the next tip. It’s crucial to know this so that you can express it with your visual identity.
The best visuals for your website and social media will relate to your business.
They’ll create an emotional touch point between your visuals and what your audience expects from your business. That connection helps create more leads!
Tip #2: Choose your brand colors
Once you know your brand personality, it’s time to choose visual elements that will help you express it.
The first place to start is your brand colors.
I recommend you use a restrained palette of colors. Choose two main colors and a single “accent color” to start.
You’ll use your two main colors in most places. And when you want to emphasize something like a button, for example, you’ll use your accent color.
Here’s how I use my two main colors and accent color here on my website:
Tip #3: Pick your brand fonts
The next branding elements to choose are your fonts.
And once again, I recommend you keep it simple.
Choose two fonts — one for headlines and one for body text.
Here’s how I use my two fonts on this site:
Tip #4: Add simple images to your words
Start small — begin by looking for ways to add simple visuals to your words.
It’s as easy as capturing a screenshot like the one above. (Not sure how to capture a screenshot with your computer? This page shows you how to take a screenshot.)
You can also look for opportunities to break up your words with visuals that add meaning, just like I’ve done in this article.
Think like an art director: Look for clear images that illustrate the concept you’re communicating with words.
Not sure where to look for photos? Read Free Stock Photos: My Favorite Resources Today.
Your visual strategy: The sooner you build it, the better
A cohesive visual identity is obvious to the eyes — but only after you’ve used it for a while.
Developing your visual strategy is an ongoing process. The images you use need to work together seamlessly.
Consistency in your visual identity is important.
When you figure out your strategy, you can produce images far more efficiently. You’ve identified your style. Your images appeal to your ideal customer.
When you show up with the same fonts, colors, brand personality, and image styles month after month and year after year, your prospects and customers will recognize your visual identity like it’s an old friend.
Get started today:
- Pinpoint your brand personality
- Choose your brand colors
- Choose your brand fonts
- Start with simple images
You’ve got this! Like everything else in life, visual content marketing gets easier with practice. Why not start today?