There is so much news pushed out into the world today, and on so many different platforms, that it is harder than ever for specific pieces of content to stand out. This blog will focus on how original images and visual displays of information can help empower outreach efforts and create a space for your brand in the media.
When posting quality content, it is important that each piece be visually branded. This ensures that viewers are not just engaging with the post, but are drawing connections between meaningful messages and your brand. Three design elements that I recommend keeping consistent are logo, color palette, and design style. To have the company logo present whenever content is put out is a simple and obvious decision. Less obvious is the color and style used to form each piece of content. For example, Netflix does a great job of sub-branding and stylizing content for the Netflix Original Orange Is The New Black.
Netflix incorporates the show’s color palette, barbed wire imagery, and font pairing into a news article about women inmates. In doing so, Netflix has established a solid link between a powerful social message and the show’s brand. The benefit of incorporating these brand elements into the content is that, if the piece gets picked up and shared by another media source, it will carry the brand with it as it spreads.
People often look before they read when surfing the web, so supporting your content with a visual element can be an effective way of attracting attention. This is particularly true on social media — Twitter itself states that people are “three times more likely to engage with Tweets that contain videos and photos.” A few powerful ways to catch a viewer’s eye are with vector graphics, raster images, and animations.
Since vector graphics are made up of points, they can be resized without any loss of quality. That makes them great for displaying information, demonstrating process, and working with original illustrations. Vector graphics also allow for seamless transfer between different digital and print platforms, so any visual elements created on one platform can be easily transferred and used on another.
Raster images, on the other hand, are made up of pixels, and often provide a more “real” or “human” feel. (The most common example of a raster image is a photograph.) This makes them ideal for showcasing company culture and promoting events. It is important to note that size and resolution often play a big role in where and how an image can be shared, because image quality does not always transfer between platforms well.
Animations can take on various forms, making them an effective multi-platform tool. Animations are particularly compelling on social media because they help to distinguish content and grab attention on platforms where people are usually scrolling rather quickly. Animation can also be applied to still graphics and images, which can bring attention to text-heavy pieces.
There are various programs that can be used to create visual support. If accessible, I recommend using Adobe Illustrator for graphics, Adobe Photoshop for images and animations, and Adobe InDesign for projects that have large amounts of text. If you’re new to these programs, lynda.com is a great resources for learning how to use them, as well as good ol’ YouTube. There are also several free editing programs available online, such as Canva — however they can be limiting and inflexible.
A great way to pique an audience’s interest is to provide tidbits of relevant facts and industry data. Most people browsing media won’t stop to analyze and pick apart a paragraph of numbers, which is why designing infographics and data visualizations can be a more effective way to communicate. Infographics are vector graphic images used to efficiently communicate important facts and figures. By creating and sharing infographics, it is easier to build awareness and establish relevance or urgency for a cause. For example, UNICEF provides viewers with progress and outcome data, which keeps sponsors and donors informed and up-to-date on each of the projects they support. Being able to show the direct impact of your organization’s work is powerful because it makes people more likely to get involved.
When considering which data is best to share with an audience, think about relevance and impact. For data that establishes relevance, I recommend pulling general stats from a federal database or database warehouse, or facts from credible national publications, such as the Wall Street Journal. Impact data, on the other hand, is best when coming from an organization’s internal database, because then the data is specific to an individual organization’s impact. Internal data can be pulled from a variety of places, but the most common source would be Google Analytics/website analytics, social analytics, or company issues polls.
Whenever you’re putting out content — whether it be on earned, owned, or social media — consider how each message can be pushed and empowered with visuals. Each and every one of the methods mentioned above can be utilized in your communications strategy — and in many cases, these methods should be combined to increase the impact of the visuals (for instance, an infographic should be correctly branded, and can serve as a feature image). Developing graphics, images, and animations should always be part of the creative process and, when used effectively, are an excellent way to support and further push out meaningful messages.