Wednesday, 24 June 2015

How to Use Visual Marketing to Leave Your Competition in the Dust

How to Use Visual Marketing to Leave Your Competition in the Dust

Creating visuals for your blog and/or social media may seem like a daunting task but I’m going to break down some of the ways you can use visual marketing to leave your competition in the dust.
These tactics will use design programs and apps that are easily accessible to everyone and you’ll be able to learn how to use them. Instead of being overwhelmed by creating visual content, I’m going to help you learn to love this part of your blog or social media tasks. Get ready to unleash your creativity and fire up your visual content!
Inspired by my recent webinar with Hubspot, I’m sharing the tools with links to make it easy for you to dig in and start creating. You can view the on-demand webinar here. Or enjoy the visual presentation.
You need to start by creating your brand’s style which will include colors, fonts, and overall style for your designs. If you’d like to try on your own, here’s a quick tutorial for building a brand style guide. If you’re a blogger, your blog is your home base on the web and everything else that you do will be an extension of your blog’s branded design.
When you create your blog design, you’ll want to update all your social media cover photos and graphics to match. Having cohesive style to your brand creates a memorable visual experience and helps your audience connect with you across the web.
If you need help with this process, hiring a professional designer to create your logo and a brand style guide for you would be a great way to spend your money.
It’s important to create something unique and not copy the style of another blog, brand, or social media personal brand that you love.
Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery when it comes to creating a brand style guide.
 You will not stand out, you will look like a jerk. Again, need help with design? Find someone to help you build your brand’s style. Don’t be a copycat.

Why create a visual brand?

A solid visual brand ties all of your content together across social media platforms and helps people recognize your posts. One of the highest compliments I get on social media is when people say “I saw a beautiful graphic and immediately knew that it was yours so I had to read it.” People recognize my style of graphics, my signature pink circle logo in the corner, and know when they click through they can trust my content to be worthy of their time.
That’s WHY you spend the time to create a visual style.
It took me a long time to nail down the pieces of my current visual style. I started with a Pinterest board and pinned elements as I saw them and knew that I’d want to find them later to include. I loved the big circles on this blog design and feel madly in love with the vintage typewriter image on my home page. I kept adding little tiny pieces until I was ready to work on a total rebranding for my blog and social media.
This process can also be helpful if you’re going to work on a designer to create a brand, logo, and style guide for you. Working with a pro is great but your brand needs to capture your essence.
Don’t let someone else dictate your style and force a final design on you that you don’t like. It won’t grow on you. Trust me on that one. Sharing what you love with them will help the design process.
You should also have the option to get several rounds of designs in your creative process working with a designer. This doesn’t mean that you get unlimited changes, you may get two or three rounds total so having an idea of what you’d like helps ensure you’ll get a final design you love.
This new design is 100% me and what I love. It makes me happy to create designs that coordinate with it and I feel people get a great sense of who I am.
Collect visual pieces that you love and put them all together to create something you’ll love too!

Create your own branded images

From popular blogger and social media strategist Rebekah Radice,
Make every image your masterpiece.
While your image might not be the Mona Lisa, it can be branded with your signature look and feel.
Customize each image to inspire and delight your social media fans and followers.
Ask yourself how you can make your image funny, inspirational, more informative?
The four basic questions you must answer:
  • What is it?
  • How does it work?
  • Who has it?
  • How does it feel?
Make it a game. With every image you create, make certain you can answer each question.
When you create designs, add your logo and/or website address on your images. Adding this extra bit of flair helps people know that it’s yours, builds your brand recognition, and hopefully deters people from using it without permission.

Tools to create your visual marketing

I’ve learned to use many online tools to great the graphics that I use on my blog, social media, and work that I do for clients. These are my favorite tools that help me the most:
Mac Book Pro, iPhone 6+, iPad Mini
Canva – they have a freemium model where it’s free to use the site with small costs for some design types and photos. Photos and some elements are $1 each. They have a new program coming out soon called Canva for Work which could be a paid monthly fee but there’s no public information on this yet.
Eye dropper tool – Free Chrome extension to grab the color code from photos.
Adobe Color (formerly Kuler) – fantastic for creating color palettes based on your brand colors or photos that you’re working on.
Adobe Color

Design apps for your tablet and smart phone

Word Swag – For iOS only. Fast and fun text to image graphics creator. Love their grid to show where the text will fall on Twitter posts.
Over App – classy text to spruce up your photos. I love their holiday-themed art packs.
Phonto – add text to your images.
PS Express – quick and easy version of Photoshop for your phone.
Snapseed – fantastic photo editing.
Flipagram – create short videos from your photos on Instagram or Facebook or upload them into Flipagram. You can add a voiceover message or music within the app.
Canva – iPad only
Facetune – Make your selfies extra fabulous.
Repix – get creative with the swipe of a finger adding personal touches to transform your photos.
Pablo – create quick quote graphics or blog headers with this simple program.
This post has all the sizes you need for social media: Quick Tips for Social Media Graphics

Where to find free images

It’s not ok (or legal) to use any image that you find on Google or anywhere on the web. If you don’t have permission to use a photo or graphic, don’t use it. If you think you can’t afford to purchase images or take the time to find ones that you can use, can you afford a fine or legal fees for using illegal photos?
Use only images that you have permission to use for your blog and social media. Not sure what you can use? Please check out: Oh Snap, Can I Legally Use That Photo.
3. Creative Commons is a great resourceMake sure that you check the correct box at the top if you are going to use the photo for commercial purposes or modify, adapt or build upon (like adding text or banners in PicMonkey).
5. Flickr
My favorite paid photo websites are Big Stock Images and Stocksy. I have a monthly subscription for Big Stock and I get five images every day in my plan. It’s handy to have a go-to photo source that I can search quickly.

Stellar visual content creators

These people are some of my favorite creators. They all create unique and inspiring content on a consistent basis. Please check out their blogs and follow them on Pinterest for a steady stream of stellar visual marketing. You’ll notice that each of them has created a unique and interesting visual brand. You can do it too!