When designing your print and e-media campaigns, think beyond products and services. Consider the impact of colour for tapping visual recall. Use personal images direct from the heart of your company. Use images that evoke the desired emotions and tap the true purchasing motivation of your customers. Visual branding is a powerful tool—use it!

When you see the Golden Arches, you think McDonald’s. When you see an apple with a bite out of it, you think of Apple Computers. Top brands have key written marketing strategies, but they have visual strategies too. Just one glance and the entire brand—its core messages and key products—rush into the consumer’s mind. How can you create your own powerful visual brand?

Identify Your Brand Colours

Identify your brand colours and use them to trigger visual memory. For Tide, it’s Tide Orange. For Coke, it’s the Coca-Cola Red. Not only are these brand colours used for products and logos, but they infuse all of these companies’ marketing, both digital and print. Even if you don’t have an official brand colour, identify colours that are consistent with your company message and image. Be purposeful about using them consistently throughout your materials. Colour is a consistent presence that, in itself, triggers visual memory.

Use the Power of Images

Stock imagery works in a pinch, but it looks like, well, stock imagery. Hire a professional photographer who can make your company shine. Use pictures of your storefront or corporate offices, employees, and products in use (instead of house shots). Showcase your customer service people, technicians, and sales reps. Build a visual identity based on real people, places, and things.

Also consider tapping the enthusiasm and relationship with customers. Bistro restaurant Birroteca has built a visual identity based on images of its menu posted by actual customers on Instagram, as well as Instagram postings of its chefs, servers, and other employees on the job. The visual brand is hip, upscale, and engaged with the local community.

Do you have a spokesperson or mascot? How well and how consistently is it used in your print and online materials? If you don’t have one, would you benefit from creating one? For some companies, a spokesperson or brand mascot can be a powerful tool in telling their story.

Tell Your Story

What’s your brand story? How can images of your product tell it? For example, Harley-Davidson isn’t selling motorcycles. It is selling freedom. Visuals of the open road are as important as the motorcycle itself. Lexus isn’t selling cars. It is selling prestige. That’s why its advertising shows cars driven by men in expensive suits or by women dripping with luxury.

What feelings do your print materials need to evoke? Are your products designed to give people financial freedom, to make them better moms, or boost their social standing? If so, what images will reinforce those messages?