How (and Why) to Use Illustrations and Designs to Market Your Products & Service

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As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But can a picture lead to a thousand conversions? Well, it’s hard to say. What is clear, however, is that a product or service accompanied by an illustrated design can lead to a higher conversion rate and better sales. 

The bottom line is that designs and illustration are vital marketing tools. How you use them can determine whether or not they take your sales to new heights. When done right, a small business can stand out from its competitors by properly utilizing illustrations—in fact, illustrations could be the missing piece in your business’ marketing strategy. 

Still unsure whether illustrations are needed in your marketing plan? Below, I’ve put together a case for including illustrations in your small business marketing today. 

Marketing Illustrations 101

Despite what some might believe, art and business are not natural opposites. Often, art can enhance a business and improve its relationship with its customer base and the broader market. In fact, 80% of small-to-medium sized business owners agree that graphic design is “important” for their business’ success. 

Marketing illustrations can take various forms. Rather than static JPEG images and simple banner designs, marketing illustrations can also include or consist of:

  • Original or stock photography
  • GIFs and memes
  • Videos
  • Charts and visual data
  • Original graphics

Illustrations and other design elements help brands form a coherent brand image and style that lets consumers form deep, memorable connections with companies. The operative term here is “coherent”—unless your image is consistent across your media assets, your brand can lose its ability to be recognized, thereby defeating the purpose of your design altogether. 

In short, there’s a right way and a wrong way to incorporate illustrations and designs into your marketing strategy. Below, I’ll provide some tips on how to do it correctly. 

How to Create Marketing Illustrations that Convert

The good news is that your illustration techniques don’t have to be particularly innovative or cutting edge. You also don’t have to have the talent of Charles Schultz or Claude Monet to get the job done. Rather, basic computer skills and an eye for a good design is all you need. Below, I’ve listed a few simple illustrator-inspired steps to creating marketing illustrations.

Choose Your Brand Colors

The first step is to settle on a single color or a basic color scheme that will represent your brand. Many major brands are easily recognizable by virtue of their brand colors. For instance, Coca-Cola is known for its red branding whereas Starbucks is green and Facebook is blue. 

Note that different colors elicit different emotions. Although there aren’t any hard and fast rules regarding color-emotion associations, many consumers make the following instinctive connections:

  • Yellow: Optimism, warmth, hunger
  • Orange: Friendly, cheerful, confidence
  • Red: Bold, exciting, youthful
  • Purple: Creative, wise, imaginative
  • Blue: Trust, strength, dependability
  • Green: Peaceful, healthful, growth-oriented
  • Silver: Balanced, calm, peaceful 

It’s important that you select your color(s) carefully, and to not deviate from your chosen color patterns after they’ve been selected. You can confuse your customer base if you step outside your color scheme after it’s already been established as part of your brand.

Play Around in Canva

You don’t need costly SaaS solutions like the Adobe Creative Cloud suite in order to create illustrations. Although Adobe Illustrator and InDesign are excellent resources, simpler free-to-use software such as Canva are oftentimes superior for beginners or non-experts. 

Once you’ve created a Canva account here, you can click the purple “Create a Design” button in the top-right corner to get started illustrating. You can either start from scratch and add shapes and visual elements using the left side panel, or begin from a pre-made template.

My best advice is to play around with services such as Canva to see where your ideas take you. Make a first attempt at a logo, a social media banner, or perhaps a branded infographic if you work with hard data or numerical figures. Ensure that you keep your colors and brand images consistent across all of these assets. 

Seek Inspiration From Other Illustrations

If you need a little extra illustration design inspiration, I recommend checking out top-rated submissions on art community websites such as DeviantArt or ArtStation. There you will find thriving communities of amateur and professional designers alike who have large libraries of illustrations that can inspire your own work.

Seek Feedback On Your Marketing Illustration

Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, poor designs do exist and they can negatively impact your brand’s reputation regardless of how highly you might think of it. 

Before going live with any logo or illustration, I would recommend checking in with the /r/Logo_Critique Reddit community (“subreddit”). Simply make a free Reddit account and post on this subreddit with an attached version of your design (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a logo). Make sure you keep an open mind and remain receptive to constructive criticism. If community members suggest you revise your illustration, take the advice on the chin and get back to work. 

Why Utilize Marketing Illustrations?

In today’s market, brands need to go the extra mile to stand out. A memorable illustration or design can help build your brand’s personality so that it relates more intimately with your audience. Without original designs or brand elements, it’s much more difficult to separate your brand from others’. 

In fact, a recent study found that most consumers actively seek out products from brands that have visually appealing content. This is because, now more than ever, customers are drawn to companies that can tell a brand story. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly two-thirds (65%) of marketing executives agree that visual assets are essential to brand storytelling. 

Therefore, if you aren’t creating eye-catching illustrations and visual elements as part of your brand strategy, you’re bleeding sales. 

Putting Together a Winning Strategy

To truly stand out from your peers, a simple Canva illustration won’t suffice. For a more memorable and unique brand image, you should consider hiring professional graphic illustrators. With their assistance, you can put together a unique and captivating brand identity that will not only bring in new customers, but also keep them coming back thanks to its recognizability.

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