You know the adage, “New year, new you!” But this phrase doesn’t have to apply solely to your personal life. If you didn’t see the success you wanted in your marketing in 2018, then this sentiment should drive your brand in 2019. We’d like to suggest these New Year’s resolutions to get your brand’s visual strategy on track.
- I will not value form over function. Design can be beautiful, and everyone is drawn to beautiful things. But if your beautiful design doesn’t make sense, or miscommunicates information, it’s not effective visual communication. This year, remember that form and function are equally important in engaging your audience while accurately conveying your message.
- I will not imitate my competitors. Your biggest competitor refreshed their brand, and it’s sleek. It matches your industry and appeals to your audience. You wished you’d made this exact change to your brand before they had a chance. But if you think you should move ahead with a similar refresh, just remember: you won’t stand out to potential customers by blending in. Your company is unique, and your visual brand should be too. So don’t be jealous — be different.
- I will not use stock imagery. We get it! Stock is convenient, sometimes inexpensive depending on your source, and a quick fix for projects with a tight turnaround. But you don’t want the header image on your website to be used in dozens or hundreds of other places. This goes hand in hand with ensuring your brand is unique from your competitors’.
- I will not publish sloppy data visualizations. A graph that’s meant to communicate 73% should not show a bar that’s only 67% filled in. Custom graphic design tools such as Adobe Illustrator offer data visualization features that help ensure your data visualizations are accurate each time. When trying to design in another tool or with a stock graph, your data may not add up. Even if the data you’re providing is accurate, an inaccurate data visualization is a quick way to lose your audience’s trust.
- I will not limit our brand collateral to what’s familiar. Let’s say your brand has been publishing infographics since 2013. A couple of years later, the idea of a visual blog post seemed like an easy next step. But now, a push to interactive widgets or augmented reality may seem daunting. A trusted visual communication partner can introduce new mediums and explain why they make sense for your target audience.
Enough of what not to do. What should you aim to start doing in 2019?
- I will embrace visual communication. Perhaps none of the above scenarios made sense to you. Maybe visual communication is something your organization hasn’t explored. You may not know the difference between what a traditional marketing campaign can achieve vs. one that incorporates visual communication. That’s OK — 2019 is your year to dive in. With 91% of buyers saying they prefer visual content above traditional formats, it’s never too late to start incorporating visual strategy into your efforts.
- I will thoughtfully prepare for new initiatives. If you’ve had a rush project with a new client, you know that preparation is key. Even if you’re the client or boss and paying a vendor or employee to execute, it’s your responsibility to detail your desires, needs, and expectations for the project upfront. If not, be prepared for the team working on your project to ask you a lot of questions along the way. Success means being clear on the details in your own head, within your department, and with your team.
- I will establish a clear visual language for each of my campaigns. Did you know that your brand guidelines aren’t the limit when it comes to how to express yourself visually? Developing a visual language specific to an initiative or campaign within your brand helps it stand out. This is particularly useful if you’re implementing a microsite or other expression of the campaign that’s distinct from your core site.
- I will embrace reusable assets for my brand. When you need to depict a handshake in an infographic, a motion graphic, and a social asset, you don’t illustrate 3 different handshakes. You create one that fits with your visual language, and use it throughout. This principle can save you a lot of time and money in the new year. It also ensures consistency across all your collateral. Build a workbench to use in tandem with your visual language, and you’ll be far more agile in creating future pieces of visual communication.
- I will improve my slide presentations. If you present proposals and findings to clients in person from time to time, you probably often use a slide format to do this. If you’re not a designer, you might piece these together as best you can from templates in the program you use, but inconsistencies and questionable font and color choices are bound to happen. Visual communication and expert graphic design can improve your presentations immensely. Even if you don’t present to clients, someone in your organization probably presents internally, and it makes a big difference to have a deck that matches your brand when you do so.
We know that it can be hard to stick to all your New Year’s resolutions. But implementing just a few of these can yield huge returns. So get ready for your best marketing year yet — say hello to 2019!