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Why Visual Marketing Is Key For Branding

Human beings' primary sense is their sight. So, if you're looking to market your bbq restaurant or public relations company, don't overlook the potential of visual marketing.

On one level, visual marketing starts with consistency. Everything a consumer sees in relation to your company should be consistent and recognizable. While that may seem most apparent with large, iconic companies—like McDonald's golden arches—it's every bit as important for other companies as well.

To illustrate: Fee Fighters, a Chicago-based credit card processing company, features a ninja logo in a broad range of venues.

"Throughout all of our marketing materials we are consistent with our ninja brand identity. It's on our Twitter account, e-mail newsletter, and all over the website. Even our business cards have ninjas on them," says spokesman Andy Keil. "Within the ninja theme is the more potent message that we are on the business owners' side, their advocate in fighting credit card processing fees."

Visuals can also help convey the function and usefulness of company products, such as an electrician whose logo features a volt meter to show how clients can save on their energy bills. That's the case with Frisco, Texas-based Vignature, whose logo incorporates a dotted line to highlight the company's focus on providing image-based electronic signature technology.

"Since we offer a way for individuals to sign documents electronically with a live photograph, our logos and icons communicate this with a face on a dotted line," says Vignature co-founder Kelly Spradley. "The visuals are vital to communicating what we do."

Although visuals can prove an important component of your overall marketing push, don't get too caught up in ancillary bells and whistles—particularly with logos and other images that consumers see over and over. As a general rule, keep these visuals simple. Not only do they convey information better, they're easier for customers to remember and it enables them to recall the association.

"Simplicity is vital. A complex logo will be difficult to print and reproduce and may not fully engage your audience," says Ross Kimbarovsky of crowdSPRING, a Chicago logo and graphic design clearinghouse.

"Take a moment and think about brands that are successful and famous. They all have logos that are simple and easily recognized when printed by themselves, and when printed in solid black and white."

But it's also important that visuals not be an afterthought to your marketing strategy. Take the visual component into consideration early in the process of developing branding and other essential attributes of your product or service.

"To ensure a successful visual identity, stakeholders need to include design professionals from the start. This means making sure that design has a seat at the table when envisioning the brand and creating its architecture," says Jason Arena, vice president of brand strategy and marketing at KSC Kreate, an Atlanta agency that specializes in visual content.

"The result is more efficient conceptual development and execution by the simple virtue of understanding the brand's essence."

Consumers remember what they see. A well-thought-out, consistent visual marketing strategy will keep your small business on their minds—particularly when it comes time to make a buying decision.

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