Visual campaigns can make an incredible impact. They can help launch your next product or service, strengthen your social media presence, drive traffic to your website, or boost brand recognition. Or, they can fall flat. So what can you do to set your visual campaign up for success?
Let’s make a checklist of the essentials. Whether this is your first time planning a visual campaign or you just want to make sure this is your most successful one yet, you’ll need these 5 fundamental elements.
1. Establish Goals
Every visual campaign will be different. Why? Because each is designed to achieve unique goals. Luckily, visual campaigns are incredibly flexible: your options for assets and distribution channels can be tailored to whatever need you have.
That’s why you need to clearly define your goal at the outset. It will shape every aspect of your campaign. So before you choose a look and feel for your campaign’s visual language, and before you decide what assets to create, define your primary goal. This could be to:
- Increase your social media following
- Drive more traffic to your site, or to a specific landing page
- Launch a product
- Reduce marketing costs
- Create more consistent, high-quality content
No matter what your goal is, there’s good news: your visual campaign can be tailored to fit that goal. Once you’ve defined the purpose of your campaign, it will be much easier to complete the next step.
2. Identify a Target Audience
A highly effective visual campaign will be tailored to the right audience. Just as you need to know your goal before you can accomplish it, you need to know who your audience is before you can make an impact on them.
Your audience might be fairly broad. Or it might be very specific. Either way, your campaign will need to be personalized to keep them engaged.
Try asking yourself some questions about your audience:
- How do you want to change their perceptions?
- What kind of content do they seek out?
- Which distribution channels are they active on?
If you don’t define your audience, you can’t create assets that are optimized to meet your goal. But once you have a clear picture of who they are — and what they want and need — you can move on to the next step in your checklist.
3. Every Campaign Should Begin with a Visual Strategy
What is a visual strategy? In simple terms, a visual strategy is a set of guidelines that shapes all visual expressions of your brand. It’s the core of your style guide or your next product-specific visual language. And it’s at the heart of a highly successful visual campaign. To put it another way: it’s step 1 towards solving many, many communication challenges.
How do you create a visual strategy? Similar to a brand strategy, it should be based on a knowledge of your target markets, the landscape of your competition, and your future challenges. These form the blueprint for your visual strategy.
And what does this have to do with your visual campaign? Well, everything. In fact, there are 2 types of visual strategy. The first type guides your whole brand. The second type is a campaign-specific visual strategy that is customized for your campaign’s goal and target audience. Once you’ve outlined your goal and audience, you’re ready to build your campaign-specific visual strategy. This will determine what content you create, how you create it, and where you deploy it. With that visual strategy in place, you’re ready for the next step in your checklist.
4. Give Your Campaigns a Voice by Creating a Visual Language
Once you’ve defined your goals, your target audience, and your visual strategy, you have everything you need to create a visual language for your campaign. Having a visual language can broaden and enhance the overall look of your brand by adapting it for campaign-specific needs. It also ensures that your campaign feels newsworthy and fresh.
Why not just skip the visual strategy and go straight to creating a visual language when you’re planning campaigns? Because every design choice should be informed by your goal and your audience. A strong, campaign-specific visual strategy ensures that you’re designing the right assets for the right distribution channels. Then, the visual language brings that strategy to life by defining a specific design direction. The resulting campaign will feel distinct and polished, and it will be aimed directly at your goal.
5. Does Your Visual Campaign have a Timeline?
As you plan the creation of your visual assets, timing is everything. For instance, when designing assets, you may want to start with the major anchor pieces of your campaign. Why? Because you can pull inspiration and even specific elements from these cornerstone components to create a variety of smaller pieces later. This helps you produce assets efficiently and helps keep the campaign cohesive.
That’s not all. When it comes to the rollout of your campaign, timing is just as important.
At this point, you’ve already defined the major “tentpole” assets for your campaign. Now what?
Think of your campaign as a single narrative. Each piece of visual content is a part of that story. You’ll want to create a content calendar that lays out when and where you’ll release each individual asset. Having a detailed timeline for the rollout of each asset will help your campaign run smoothly.
As with all effective visual campaigns, you’ll find success if you have a clearly defined goal and audience, the right strategy, a distinct visual language, and a schedule to execute it. With these 5 essential elements, your next visual campaign will deliver on your goals.