An Essential Guide to Your Visual Marketing Strategy in 2020

By January 7, 2020 June 29th, 2021 Visual Marketing Strategy
megaphone showing different types of conference collateral

As we dive into 2020, audiences want information that’s catered to them. They want it to be quick to the point, dynamic and exciting to watch, and shareable. They want messaging that feels created especially for them. And they want content that appears in multiple mediums. To stand up to these demands, your content marketing strategy must incorporate multifaceted visual approaches.

Audiences have been seeing through one-size-fits-all marketing for years. In 2020, their scrutiny only gets more intense. They want your brand to put the same amount of time and energy into connecting with them as you want them to invest in becoming your customer.

And the best way to show them you care is to master the kind of marketing that drives that connection. Here are 5 principles and techniques to keep in mind as you form your visual content marketing strategy for 2020.

1. Let Audiences Dictate the Trends

A person describing what they want to see from visual content marketing: illustrations, data visualization, and more

It’s true, this isn’t a new concept. While marketers try to influence trends, and can certainly succeed, the end goal is to appeal to an audience. This requires understanding what the audience wants and explaining how your service or product fits into that vision.

“What does this brand do for me?” “Why is it better than alternatives?” If your organization and visual brand can’t help answer these questions, your potential customer is likely to move on. Not only your visual marketing, but your entire brand strategy, should be built to provide satisfying answers. 

One trend in particular shows that audiences want to be in charge of what they see. It’s the push for personalization. SmarterHQ reports that 72% of all consumers won’t engage with marketing content unless it’s personalized to them.

A person holding a tablet containing a statistic that 72 percent of consumers only engage with content marketing strategy messages that are personalized to them

Audiences want you to get to the point. You should be able to quickly show evidence that your brand, product, or service drives value for customers. Beyond explaining what makes you great, you should show results, complete with case studies. “When we did X, it accomplished Y. That’s how we’ll help you, too.”

2. Keep It Short and Sweet — and Prolific

Several people holding mobile phones, all showing different shortform animated videos and motion graphics

With the demand for highly personalized and targeted messaging, organizations need to produce a higher quantity of deliverables that hit hyper-specific goals. But if your visual content marketing budget isn’t going up, this strategy can seem out of reach. How can quantity go up without quality going down? 

With audiences’ attention spans now shorter than ever, brevity continues to reign in the world of content marketing. Breaking up content into bite-sized pieces, like social-media micronarratives, is a perfect way to appeal to that demand. You can get many high-quality micronarratives out of a story that would produce only 1 full-length infographic or motion graphic. With this in mind, and considering the growing interest in video and animation, consider producing a short-form video series. 

According to Wistia, videos up to 2 minutes in length have a pretty strong completion rate, at 70%. With that said, audiences are often even more drawn to shorter videos, including mini, looping animations such as GIFs. 

In 2018, Google acquired GIF platform Tenor and incorporated the medium into image search results. Today, regardless of their OS, phone users can find short-form MP4s and GIFs featured just as prominently as photos, emojis, and stickers in their messaging apps, search results, social feeds, and more.

3. Explore Elegant Design With a Minimalist Approach

Sleek and elegant design are in high demand these days. Home and lifestyle brands like West Elm and Fernish are clear examples. Not only do the products they sell boast clean lines and a minimalist approach, but their websites reflect this as well. The Marie Kondo Effect of 2019 falls right in line with this aesthetic, and the trend is poised to continue in 2020.

Achieving a minimalist approach to elegant design is not easy. This aesthetic requires in-depth strategy and foresight so that your content both reflects your brand and speaks to your audience. Take this minimalist video, for example:

For a video like this, it’s necessary to develop concepts that carry the storyline without major shifts in the location or shape of the central imagery. That involves an airtight initial concept, considerable upfront planning, and mid-production trial and error to achieve a successful end product. So contrary to appearances, it’s actually often harder to produce designs that are seen as “simple,” like minimalist design, than it is to produce other types of designs. 

4. Try a Cinematic Approach

Storytelling is a timeless and critical technique for engaging audiences. There are seemingly endless stories to be told and an incredible diversity of mediums and aesthetic approaches through which to tell them. A classic technique for 2020 is the cinematic approach to motion graphics and video.

Cinematic videos like the one above take inspiration from films. Whether live-action, animated, or a mix of the two, they consider point of view, camera angles and tracking (whether real, or implied in the case of animation), and narrative progression to generate a connection with the viewer or an emotional response. For this reason, this style is an excellent choice for emotive videos. They typically are not as well suited to explainer or promotional videos, though. Not sure what the difference is? Check out our ebook on these 3 types of motion graphics to learn more.

By taking a cinematic approach, you can tap into the “why” behind your product, service, or brand. Showing your audience examples and reasons why the story you’re telling is so important helps engage them without a hard sell. This is important to keeping them interested and following through to the end of your video. When you create a unique connection with your audience, instead of simply explaining value, you have the opportunity to form a more meaningful customer relationship. That relationship should be a part of any marketing strategy, whether driven by visuals or not.

5. Create Visual Languages and Workbenches for Unique Campaigns

A visual identity brand book with colors and type guidelines, translating into a set of custom guidelines for a visual communication campaign

You’re already on board with optimizing your story for your exact audience. Are you customizing your visual approach in the same way?

After a considerable investment in your visual strategy as well as your visual brand identity, it may feel counterintuitive to explore alternate or additional colors, fonts, and illustration styles for a particular campaign. But leaning too heavily on that one central brand can hold you back from dialing in to the exact goals of your specific campaign. This, in turn, prevents you from communicating most effectively with the unique audience for that campaign.

Brands are beginning to recognize that their overall visual identity isn’t always the right approach. When a new product, service, sub-brand, or branded event emerges on your company’s horizon, it may be a disservice to blend it in with the rest of your brand. 

Consider the demand for personalization. How can you achieve that with the varied audiences your brand is trying to reach? Since 95% of B2B and B2C marketers are producing content for more than 1 audience, it’s important to consider what information those audiences need, and what visual approach will be most effective in reaching each of them. 

Bar charts showing how many B2B and B2C marketers are reaching different numbers of audiences, with 95 percent reaching more than 1 audience with their content marketing strategy

By pursuing a unique visual language for each campaign, and a coordinating workbench that includes essential assets to be used and reused across that specific campaign, you’ll most clearly accomplish the distinct goals you’ve outlined. What’s more, you’ll be able to better cater your content to that campaign’s particular audience, making it feel more personalized. 

You’ll also be prepared to create cohesive collateral within the campaign, no matter how many hands touch each deliverable. With this level of preparedness behind your visual content marketing, you’ll be able to tackle all 2020 campaigns with both strategy and agility.

Master Your Visual Content Marketing Strategy This Year

The year 2020 will bring pushes for personalization, specialization, hyper-focus, and thoughtfulness. Your dedication to updating your content marketing strategy as trends shift is key to keeping your audience loyal in a competitive world. 

So this year, make sure to give as much thought to your visual approaches as you do to your research and concepts. Keep your content customized, concise, elegant, and targeted. Your audience will notice!

Lucy Todd

Author Lucy Todd

Lucy Todd is the Chief Process Officer at Killer Visual Strategies. She is a Seattle native and Western Washington University graduate. Her degree in Creative Writing and her customer service background both inform her work daily. A Killer employee since 2011 and executive since 2014, Lucy has researched for, written, and/or project-managed over 4,000 projects for the company, affording her key insight into our processes and projects. This experience is invaluable in allowing her to lead and empower Killer’s content and project management teams to success. Lucy enjoys managing the day-to-day at the office, offering a unique perspective when a team or colleague feels stuck, and learning from her peers and clients each day.

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