You arrive at the office and find 2 internal emails regarding your company’s H2 marketing campaign. Someone in your Chicago office wants to have a brochure designed. Meanwhile, someone in your L.A. office is going to have a landing page made for the same campaign. Depending on whether both offices are aligned on their visual strategy, this can go one of two ways.
If your organization prefers to move on production quickly rather than having a planning phase, you might end up with a brochure and a landing page that look completely different. In that case, one — or both — may need to be totally scrapped and redone. This will cost you more in labor and potentially lead to missing key deadlines.
However, if your organization first devotes time to a visual strategy and visual language development phase for its H2 campaign, both offices can reference the same visual language guidelines, saving time while minimizing foundational design edits prior to launch.
If your organization sounds more like the former, it may be time to make some fundamental changes to how you communicate. You can achieve this with the help of the Visual-First Method.
The Visual-First Method, Defined
The Visual-First Method is a systematic approach to shifting company culture and equipping organizations to connect and thrive in a world that demands quality visual content.
In essence, the Visual-First Method is a series of steps that helps companies deliver what their customers — and their employees — already want: visual content.
Once the Visual-First Method is deployed, every department in your organization will be equipped to analyze your audience and the 1 key goal for each campaign. Each can then move ahead with an intentional design-forward plan involving a visual strategy, a visual language (defined below), and finally, the execution of deliverables.
For more information on the Visual-First Method, check out our ebook, “The Visual-First Method: 3 Steps for Producing Quality Visual Content, Every Time.”
The first step toward implementing the Visual-First Method in your organization is to get people excited about the reasons that leading with visual content is the right move. This includes all departments, from HR to marketing to accounting.
Sharing studies and surveys in presentations is a great way to do this. If you have access to visual communication experts already, designing a takeaway sheet or motion graphic to explain the benefits is a perfect way to lead by example.
For some great resources on why visual communication helps organizations reach their audiences better and improve their workforce, check out some of our Killer ebooks.
Train Your Team
Once you’ve gotten buy-in across your organization, it’s time to educate and train on a deeper level. You’ve gained their attention with a few statistics, but ongoing participation will cement the implementation. Some ways to do this are to:
- Hold brainstorming sessions
- Host company-wide educational meetings and training days
- Encourage collaboration across departments
The more ideas you can generate about how to lead with visuals both internally and with your core customers, the better. It’s at this point that you can begin to develop a visual strategy for your organization or specific campaign. You’ll start with a visual language and visual strategy.
Define Your Visual Strategy and Visual Language
An effective visual strategy is a clearly defined plan. It’s designed to ensure that every piece of collateral in a visual campaign or across your organization accurately conveys your message, properly portrays your brand, and effectively connects with your audience. Developing a visual strategy isn’t always a simple process. However, it is critical to achieving a consistent look and feel across your campaign or a series of campaigns.
A visual language is a cohesive, creative framework built around visual communication to reach a content campaign’s specific goals and target audience. It’s a critical step in your visual strategy. That’s because it allows you to solidify your aesthetic before collateral-specific design work begins. It may include fonts, colors, illustration and icon styles, usage guidelines, and more. It may be similar to your brand guidelines or it may be a distinct departure, depending on the goals of your campaign.
Start Creating Great Visual Content
After your visual language is complete, you can also develop a visual workbench. This will ensure that people across teams and deliverables are using the same iconography and illustrations in the same scenarios. Remember the example from the beginning of this post, in which 2 different branches of an organization were having difficulty aligning? The Visual-First Method would set this team up for success.
With your visual strategy clearly defined and your visual language and workbench approved, you can move into defining and creating each deliverable for your campaign with confidence. You’re also prepared for future campaigns, taking into account the unique audience and goal of each initiative and analyzing how that affects each campaign’s visual strategy and visual language.