The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Visual Content Stand Out

Become your brand's hero. Learn how to Create Compelling Visual Content in five simple but powerful steps.

Matt By Matt
18 Min Read

Engaging audiences within the first few seconds is a must if you want your brand, or your client’s brand, to stand out.

Making your content more visually engaging can dramatically enhance the impact of your marketing and should be a fundamental skill that you possess.

Incorporating relevant and captivating images, infographics and visuals serves as more than just an accessory; they are often the main catalyst for audience engagement and boosting content shareability.

By skillfully combining creativity and understanding your strategic objectives, engaging visual content elevates the quality of your content and emerges as a fundamental component of brand storytelling and campaign effectiveness.

Key Takeaways

  • Visual content can enhance brand engagement and message clarity.
  • Storytelling through visuals is critical for audience connection.
  • Strategic use of visual tools can boost content shareability.

1. Understand Theory: It Will Help You Know What Works

Visual content is pivotal in your marketing strategy by capturing attention and creating a deeper connection with your audience.

Colour Theory and Brand Perception

The colours you select for your content can trigger distinct emotions and shape perceptions of your brand.

Understanding colour theory is crucial in visual marketing, with various colours capable of drawing in specific demographics and matching your audience’s preferences.

The psychology of color in branding and marketing is a field that explores how color influences consumer perceptions and behaviors. Here are five main theories that explain the relationship between colour and brand perception:

  1. Colour Emotion Guide: Colors can evoke specific emotions. For instance, red often conveys excitement, while blue can convey trust. Brands choose colours that align with the emotions they want to evoke. For further reading on how different colours can affect emotions, check out Verywell Mind.
  2. Colour and Brand Personality: Colors can help express brand personality traits such as sincerity or sophistication. Jennifer Aaker’s brand personality framework is influential in this area. Black, for example, is frequently used by luxury brands to convey sophistication. More on brand personality and colour can be found in Aaker’s work, detailed on ResearchGate.
  3. Colour Preferences by Demographics: Demographic factors like age, gender, and culture can influence colour preferences. Brands need to understand their target audience’s colour preferences. You can explore demographic colour preferences in this study on Frontiers in Psychology.
  4. Contextual Associations: The meaning of a colour can change depending on its context. Green, for instance, might be associated with health or with money, depending on the setting. Brands must consider these contextual meanings. For more on the context of colour in branding, see “The Interactive Effects of Colors” on Journal of Marketing Research.
  5. Colour Harmony: Harmonious colour combinations can enhance a brand’s aesthetic appeal and perception. Brands use colour harmonies to create appealing designs. To learn more about colour harmony and its impact on aesthetics and usability, check out this article on Smashing Magazine.

Remember that while these theories provide useful insights, the impact of colour is complex and can vary widely among individuals and cultures. These references should give you a starting point for understanding the intricate relationship between colour and brand perception.

Win Engagement Every Time with Visuals your Audience Will Love

Visuals, graphics, photos, charts or video are essential for breaking up text and adding interest to your blog posts and social media content.

They help to sustain engagement and hold the attention of your audience.

For example, Incorporating infographics can simplify complex data, photos can illustrate points vividly, and videos can provide dynamic explanations.

Balancing these elements ensures your content is appealing and retains the viewer’s interest, encouraging them to interact with your posts.

Below is a table outlining some of the most popular types of visuals, their key benefits for engagement, the difficulty level in creating them, and popular tools and additional resources to help you get started.

 

Type of VisualKey BenefitsDifficulty LevelPopular ToolLearn More
Visuals (General)1. Enhances storytelling
2. Increases retention of information
3. Improves shareability
VariableCanvaBuffer Blog
Graphics1. Attracts attention quickly
2. Simplifies complex ideas
3. Enhances brand identity
MediumAdobe SparkHubSpot Blog
Infographics1. Presents data compellingly
2. Increases comprehension
3. Can be easily shared
Medium-HighPiktochartForbes
Photos1. Adds authenticity
2. Evokes emotional responses
3. Supports visual learning
Easy-MediumUnsplashHootsuite Blog
Charts1. Visualises data for analysis
2. Helps identify trends and patterns
3. Enhances credibility with factual backing
MediumGoogle ChartsVenngage
Video1. Increases engagement and dwell time
2. Appeals to mobile users
3. Encourages social shares
HighAdobe Premiere ProSocial Media Examiner
Summary of popular types of visuals used in blog and social media posts

2. Level Up – Use the Right Design Tool

Your ability to generate high-quality visual content relies heavily on using the right design tool that works for you. There’s no right or wrong answer.

The tools you choose need to fit into your creative process, feel nice to use and allow for the production of professional-looking graphics, illustrations, and assets.

We’ll explore video creation in a future guide.

Game-Changing Graphic Design Tools

Start by getting to know graphic design software that can turn your concepts into impressive visuals.

Adobe Photoshop is celebrated for its advanced photo editing features, allowing you to adjust and perfect images to meet your project’s requirements.

Illustrator excels in creating vector artwork, enabling you to resise your designs without compromising quality.

Canva provides an intuitive interface with many templates, making design more accessible for those without professional experience.

Additionally, most design programs include detailed tutorials to assist you in becoming proficient with their functionalities.

Whether you’re refining photos or organising text, utilising the appropriate software can greatly enhance the quality of your content.

Design ToolDescriptionProsConsOfficial Website
Canva

**my tool of choice 🙂
A user-friendly graphic design tool with a drag-and-drop interface and a vast library of templates.
1. Easy to use for beginners
2. Offers a free plan with numerous features
1. Browser based so needs a web connection to use.
2. The free version includes Canva watermark
Canva
Adobe PhotoshopIndustry-standard software for photo editing and complex digital art.1. Powerful editing capabilities
2. Extensive plugin support
1. Steep learning curve
2. Subscription-based pricing
Adobe Photoshop
FigmaA web-based UI/UX design tool known for its collaborative features.1. Real-time collaboration
2. Vector network for complex shapes
1. Can be demanding on system resources
2. Limited offline capabilities
Figma
Adobe IllustratorA vector graphics editor for creating logos, icons, drawings, and illustrations.1. Industry-standard for vector design
2. Integrates with other Adobe products
1. Can be complex for beginners
2. Subscription-based pricing
Adobe Illustrator
SketchA vector design tool primarily used for UI, mobile, and web design.1. User-friendly interface
2. Great for prototyping
1. Available only on macOS
2. Requires a paid license
Sketch
Affinity DesignerA graphic design and vector illustrator software offering a one-time purchase.1. No subscription fees
2. Comprehensive vector and raster tools
1. Less community and resources compared to Adobe products
2. One-time purchase can be a significant upfront cost
Affinity Designer
Popular design tools used to create graphics and edit photos

3. Design Principles that Create Impact

Design principles are fundamental guidelines for creating visually appealing and effective graphics. Here are five popular design principles to consider when aiming to engage with a target audience

Hierarchy

  • Description: Hierarchy arranges design elements to signify their importance, leading the viewer’s eye to the most crucial information initially.
  • Detail: Utilise size, colour, contrast, and placement to create a distinct focal point. Elements that are larger, bolder, and brighter usually attract attention first.
  • Further Reading: Smashing Magazine – Visual Hierarchy

Balance

  • Description: Balance imparts stability and structure to a design, achievable through symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial arrangements.
  • Detail: Symmetrical balance mirrors design elements, whereas asymmetrical balance achieves equilibrium through varying weights (like colour, size, or texture). Radial balance centres around a focal point.
  • Further Reading: Canva – Design Elements & Principles

Contrast

  • Description: Contrast denotes the distinction between elements within a design, aiding in emphasising key areas and enhancing readability.
  • Detail: Achieve high contrast with dramatically different colours, shapes, sizes, and other elements, directing the viewer’s focus.
  • Further Reading: Visme – The Ultimate Guide to Contrast in Design

Repetition

  • Description: Repetition entails the recurrent use of specific elements across a design to foster unity and coherence.
  • Detail: This might include the repeated application of a brand’s colours, fonts, or graphic motifs, reinforcing brand identity and aiding in audience recall.
  • Further Reading: The Interaction Design Foundation – Repetition, Pattern, and Rhythm

Alignment

  • Description: Alignment organises elements so that their edges align along common rows or columns, crafting a neater, more structured design.
  • Detail: Proper alignment eliminates haphazard placements and brings visual connections between items, enhancing readability and creating a cohesive look.
  • Further ReadingAdobe XD Ideas – Alignment in Design: The Subtle Yet Potent Element

4. Boost Engagement With a Powerful Story

Create compelling visual content that compliment storytelling narratives in your blogs and social media campaigns is an effective strategy to engage your audience, foster brand loyalty, and motivate action. Follow these five essential steps to enhance your digital storytelling:

  1. Identify Your Core Message
    • Start by pinpointing the key message you aim to communicate. Ensure this message is in harmony with your brand’s values and strikes a chord with your audience’s interests and necessities.
    • Detail: The core message is your story’s anchor, ensuring consistency and purpose.
    • Further ReadingStoryChief – Guide to Storytelling Marketing
  2. Understand Your Audience
    • Knowing your audience is crucial for effective storytelling. Tailor your content to their preferences, pain points, and what motivates them.
    • Detail: Use audience demographics, psychographics, and feedback to inform how you shape your narrative.
    • Further ReadingSocialPilot – Social Media Storytelling
  3. Develop a Story Arc
  4. Incorporate Visuals and Emotions
    • Use images, videos, and emotive language to create a more immersive experience. Visual storytelling can often convey more than words alone.
    • Detail: Emotions drive engagement and sharing, so tap into feelings like happiness, surprise, or inspiration.
    • Further ReadingHubSpot Blog – The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling
  5. Include a Call to Action (CTA)

Remember to keep an eye on visual content trends to keep your storytelling fresh and relevant. Balancing familiarity with innovation helps sustain your audience’s interest and encourages them to engage with your content more actively.

 

To significantly increase the shares of your content, prioritise the use of infographics and memes, which are highly shareable visuals in the current trend.

These formats excel in simplifying complex ideas into brief, engaging pieces that appeal broadly.

Infographics

  • Insightful: Convert complex data into clear, compelling narratives.
  • Engaging: Bright, noticeable charts enhance memory retention and encourage sharing.
  • Flexible: Adaptable to a wide range of topics and fields.

Crafting impactful infographics involves accurately depicting data while keeping it visually attractive. Support your arguments with solid statistics and include captivating visuals to keep the audience’s attention.

Design software, like Adobe’s creative suite, can be instrumental in creating these engaging graphics.

Memes

  • Relatable: Connect with your audience using humour and trending topics.
  • Viral Potential: Their tendency to be shared widely can broaden your content’s exposure.

Choose relevant images, pair them with text that resonates, and distribute them in spaces frequented by your target demographic.

What Else Trends?

  • Animated GIFs: Attract attention with movement.
  • Famous or Noteworthy Quotes on Images: Convey wisdom and spark reflection, enhancing shareability.

To thrive in the ever-evolving social media environment, it’s crucial that your visuals are tailored for various platforms.

Adjust image sizes for each network, experiment with different content forms to identify what engages your audience most effectively, and use online design tools for easy visual adaptation across multiple channels.

And most importantly, try to have fun!

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses some of the most common queries about creating visually engaging content.

How can you make my visuals stand out on social media?

Invest in high-quality images and videos with vivid colours and contrast to grab attention. Source from free sources such as Unsplash or Pexels if you have no budget. Employ animation or motion graphics modestly to make things animate without overwhelming your audience. Crafting visuals that stand out is key to social media engagement.

How can I create marketing content that stands out above the noise?

Combine relevant, high-resolution imagery with concise, persuasive copy.
Place focal points strategically to guide the viewer’s eye towards key messaging.
Visual content marketing strategies should align with your brand and audience preferences.

How can I boost the visual appeal of my graphic content?

A consistent colour scheme and typography that aligns with your brand identity can significantly increase your content’s visual appeal. Using design principles outlined on this page, such as balance, contrast, and alignment, will give your graphics a professional edge. Insights into creating effective visual content can offer a deeper understanding.

How can I craft a strong visual narrative for digital media?

Building a visual narrative involves storytelling through images, infographics, and videos. Your visual elements should work cohesively to communicate your message and provoke an emotional response. Creative brands provide tips for visual storytelling that can be utilised effectively.

What are the best practices for creating templates?

Best practices for creating templates include ensuring consistency in design, using a clear and readable font, incorporating brand colours and logos for identity, keeping layouts simple and adaptable, and allowing for customisation in different contexts while maintaining the overall style.

What makes a good social media graphic?

A good social media graphic is visually appealing, aligns with the brand’s identity, conveys a clear message, is optimised for the platform it’s posted on, and encourages engagement from the audience.

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By Matt
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I'm the Creative Director at Bona Parle. I'm also a freelance portrait and headshot photographer, award-winning filmmaker, film Colourist and a multi-award winning LGBTQ+ human rights campaigner. For part of my week I lead a successful UK-based charity that brings families closer to together.