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How Visual Marketing Can Boost Your Business

The world is visual. We use our eyes to take in much of the content that influences our behavior, tempers our reactions, and informs our decisions. Whether it’s on the Web, in a brochure, or live in person, the most effective solutions are ones that unexpectedly grab our attention. The key with visual marketing is examining the intersection point between design (the visual) and marketing (influencing buying behavior). In a world that is constantly changing, understanding the power of the visual becomes more and more critical for your success.

Selecting the right image for your business

They say a picture is worth a thousand words—but are they the right words? Are you losing business because your website does not have clarity, evoke strength and position your business in the right light? Your website is your number one billboard, it’s the place where your clients and prospects go to affirm your credibility. Be sure to get your website design right, then connect your other marketing materials (business cards, signage, brochures, email marketing, Facebook and Linked-in pages) to your website with consistent imaging and messaging.

Many small business owners reach a point early in the stages of their business where they realize that they need the professional services of a good accountant or lawyer, yet when it comes to their marketing communications they take a DIY (Do It Yourself) approach. Many underestimate the power of their public face — whether it be a website, a business card, a logo or a marketing campaign. Professional designers can apply their expertise in creating a visual presence for your business, product or service that will resonate with your key market. It’s not just about looking good, it’s about looking right.

The importance of being visual.

Adding imagery to your blogs, to your Facebook page and to all of your online communications is critical for your success in the marketplace. Cisco estimates that 90% of all consumer IP traffic will be video as early as 2013. Doug Stephens writes in that, “the days of telling customers about your product with words are coming to an end….Your word-based pitches will be shunned.” Visual marketing becomes more important, and the specific images you choose to promote and distinguish your business, product or service become even more so.

The hard part about establishing a distinctive brand in the marketplace is that your brand or corporate image is not really determined by you, it is determined by what others think of you. The best way to influence your audience’s perception of your brand is to define your visual marketing strategy with your audience in mind. This strategy should use consistent messaging, colors, typography, layout and adhere to a themes that promote the unique positioning of your brand.

Evaluating your brand: “I know it when I see it.”

How do you determine whether your visual marketing is any good? It may seem like a really subjective exercise. Is it just a matter of, “I know it when I see it,” like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography? The formal consideration of a brand’s effectiveness can be viewed by these three methods: Form, Meaning and Function.

Form: this is the syntactic or visual style of the visual. The typography used, the colors, shapes, layout, formats and overall presentation of the visuals. This is the most common understanding of what visual marketing involves, and yet it is the most misunderstood. Just looking good or pleasing is not enough. Does your style fit the message that is right for your company?

Meaning: this is the semantic or the “why” behind the visuals. What do they mean, how are they seen by your audience? Do the images project a theme that promotes your business, product or service in an advantageous manner to your key audience?

Function: this is the pragmatic or “intended end result” for your visual marketing. Does it promote, educate, inform or entertain your target audience so that they change behavior, notice or take action? Does the overall program increase sales or build awareness with your constituents?

Our Creative Process at Work

17 years ago Norman Cherubino and I founded Langton Cherubino Group, a design communication firm in New York City and we have developed a method of creating new and effective design solutions. Our creative process begins with a client meeting where we learn about the project as we define the parameters and objectives. We examine target audiences, the competition, key messaging and desired impressions. The client’s input is critical to the success of the project, after all, the client is the one who really knows the marketplace, understands their mission and goals. The best designers know how to express a client’s marketing objectives using visuals and messaging that are distinctive and appropriate for each situation. That’s visual marketing at work.

Why did we write Visual Marketing? Thousands of books about marketing have been written, including many good ones. Few, however, focus specifically on that intersection point between design (the visual) and marketing (influencing buying behavior), or do so on a scale that small businesses will find relevant. We find that when examining effective and innovative techniques highlighted in the book, you can break through the clutter and the marketer/writer’s blocks that often settle in when we start thinking about our own marketing.

Why should readers buy this book? Visual Marketing is a compendium of winning ideas intended to inspire small-business leaders, creative professionals, entrepreneurs, and students. We hope it inspires you to think up your own ideas for incorporating visuals into your marketing.

Authors Bios:

How Visual Marketing Can Boost Your Business

David Langton

David Langton, a visual communication designer, prolific blogger and author on visual design was recognized in Graphic Design USA’s annual review of designers in America as one of the People to Watch in 2009. David is co-founder with Norman Cherubino of Langton Cherubino Group whose work was recently featured in Designing for the Greater Good (HarperCollins, 2010). David has more than 20 years experience providing conceptual direction for Fortune 500 companies and serves as a consultant to leaders and marketing executives of small and medium businesses. David is an adjunct professor at Hostos College/CUNY and a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

How Visual Marketing Can Boost Your Business

Anita Campbell

Anita Campbell is CEO and founder of Small Business Trends an online community touching over 250,000 small business owners each month. It is an award-winning site, named to the Forbes Best of the Web (twice in 2005 and 2008), and receiving recognition from the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC television, among others. Integral to the success of the community is the Small Business Trends network of 150+ experts who write on topics of interest to small business owners, managers and entrepreneurs. Anita also provides short updates and commentary, and answers questions on Twitter: Anita holds a B.A. from Duquesne University and a J.D. from the University of Akron Law School. She completed an Executive Education program at the University of Michigan Business School, and the Leadership at the Peak program at the Center for Creative Leadership.

Synopsis: Visual Marketing: 99 Proven Ways for Small Businesses to Market with Images and Design is for entrepreneurs, marketers and businesses looking for a resource to help build effective creative strategies. Communications designer David Langton and small business expert Anita Campbell identify eye-catching and thought-provoking marketing and PR ideas and creative “stunts.” This engaging, large format, highly visual book shows readers the stunning world of high impact marketing and advertising through case studies, photos, and illustrations. “This book is an idea starter. Expect this book to stimulate the senses, inspire and spark ideas,” says Langton. “The 99 handpicked examples in this book are from organizations that have successfully used visual elements in their marketing—with solid results. Visual Marketing displays creative marketing campaigns that brought attention to small businesses in unique, compelling, and unexpected ways.

What are the core design elements that have to be present for a campaign to be successful? The core design elements for creating a successful campaign are:
Form: The design or look and feel of the campaign should reflect the theme of your services and resonate with your target audience. Style elements include shapes, color, imagery and typography.
Meaning: What does the artwork or campaign mean? Does it reflect the mission of your organization? Is copy well-written, succinct and easy to understand?
Function: Does the design drive business? Change behaviors? Motivate or challenge your audience to take action? All three elements must support each other. Your style should have meaning that supports the functions or goals and objectives of your campaign.

Our blog features case studies from the book as well as new examples of visual marketing at its best:

Twitter: @visualmktgbook

Let me know if you need anything else!


David Langton

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Visual Marketing:
99 Proven Ways for Small Businesses to Market with Images and Design
Wiley Publishers

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