Not everyone can turn a phrase. And not all small business owners know how to craft a message that resonates with their target client or target audience. If you combine these two inabilities you come up with a surprising number of entrepreneurs! But these businesses survive – how? Through the power of visuals (and obviously hard work).

A visual is just what it sounds like, something people can see and make sense of (very vague, I know). The key piece here is that your visuals convey the desired message. This is usually defined in your branding but many small businesses start without having answers to a lot of their branding. And that’s okay. Branding can take time to sort out on a broader scale but is really important in your marketing.

Questions like, what do I want to convey? How do I want to be perceived? And what would that look like? The answers will help you gain valuable insight into how to craft your visuals. For example, a “serious, educated, and thorough” business would use more block-type elements in solid and slightly darker colours. Whereas, a “slick, modern, fast” business may use visuals that offer a stark contrast (black and white) with minimal design elements and clear edges or spaced lines that make you think of ‘speed’. If you don’t see how we go from adjectives to colours and shapes, don’t worry as I’ll break it down a bit for you.

Find your adjectives

Coming up with a list of three adjectives that you would use to describe your business (and how you want customers to see it) are an excellent starting point. This informs a lot of the visuals for your business and gives them some longevity.

TIP: Come up with some adjectives that you believe represent your brand then ask a few outsiders what they would list as adjectives for your business. Do they align? If not, it’s worth a deeper dive into your branding.

Connecting your adjectives to colours

The use of colour is deeply connected to human psychology (which we will not get into here). People are drawn to certain colours more than others. We associate emotion with colours (think red for love)– or colour combinations (think orange and black for Hallowe’en). And this is the same for all other colours although many people aren’t aware of it. Some colours will make you hungry (blue), and others may energize you (yellow). Some colours make you feel warm or cold. Some colours make you feel grounded and others may spark imagination). And within this we also have tones and hues (darker and lighter versions) and this adds complexity and allows you to go even deeper – if you want to.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot build a “smart, educated, and thorough” business in a pink palette. But based on the colour alone this would not inspire these thoughts simply based on the bias towards the colour pink.

TIP: If your brand is all about changing the status quo or breaking these assumptions then breaking this rule would work for you!

Connecting your adjectives to shapes

Basic shapes and their use are also helpful tools in your visuals. My own brad uses a lot of circles as we talk a lot about ‘closed loop marketing’. The circle is also a ‘friendly’ shape that inspires thoughts of equality, unbiased, fairness, etc. This is because it can be turned any way with the same result. Rounded corners are also a ‘friendlier’ shape compared to shapes with sharp corners.

Think about overlapping shapes, using shapes as callouts, placing shapes behind text to add interest and convey tone. Use shapes to draw attention to specific insights in charts or infographics (a square versus a circle). Use shapes to divide text on a page for example, a straight line versus a curved.

TIP: Well designed pieces will integrate shapes seamlessly. Look closely at the brands you love to see which shapes they draw upon in their branding and communication.

Using other visuals

Beyond shapes and colours your branding may use other types of visuals such as charts, infographics, photos, etc. to help convey your value to potential clients. Charts that contain copy will use font choice as the visual element.

Do you use photos or illustrations? Photos more easily connect to emotions (think of charities) and stability (think banks) while illustrations add visual interest and can soften the tone.

Do you use symbols? We use a little wave in our logo and it appears in different places in different ways e.g. social media uses it as a background for our quotes. The wave is connected to our name “WindWater” and helps with association (a little). Other symbols that can be used in a non-logo way would be: star, flower, crown, [playing card suit], music note, heart, chess piece, sun, moon, arrow, lightening, checkmark, skull & crossbones, zodiac sign, etc. Signs can be a fast way to convey an adjective. For example, a chess piece may convey strategy, a heart or flower may convey caring, etc. There is also a lot of variation in the creation of each symbol such as thick or thin lines (thicker lines add a more comical feel while thinner lines may look more refined), rounded corners, simple or detailed variations, etc.

TIP: Adding line drawn symbols with your service offerings is a great way to integrate visuals.

Not a visual master? That’s why we outsource our design to professional! And there are other ways to communicate with prospects such as:

  • Audio (podcasting, music)
    • Recording yourself delivering value is what podcasting is all about
    • Music can also add to a brand e.g. office vibe, hold music, etc.
  • Video
    • Not everyone is great at video but it’s effective as a marketing tool
    • YouTube is also an excellent search engine to tap into
  • Infographics (professionally designed using your branding)
    • Take your insights and get them designed into a shareable PDF
  • Photography (again done in brand choices and treatments)
    • Photography used on websites, presentations, social media, etc. has communicative powers as well
  • Slide decks (used as documents not as presentations)
    • When you cannot get away from using the written word, try using it in short punchy phrases or bullet points. You can even choose an existing template to add a design – if you don’t know how to add/create your own.

As you can see there are many elements you can use to convey your message. These pieces should support your copy and convey the message subliminally. It supports your message.

And if you don’t have a message to support, we can help with that too! Book a call with WindWater today.