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How to give your brand a unique image online (and kiss those cringey stock photos goodbye)

So you’ve just finished updating (or building) your website, you’ve got your social media channels set up, you’re posting blogs and maybe sending out some emails. Your online presence is really coming together!


But when you sit back and look at everything, you realise something. People can see your brand in all these different channels (which is awesome) but it looks different in every place. There’s no consistency. Will people even recognise your brand when they see it online?


Or worse yet, maybe your branding is consistent, but… you realise it looks like it could be from any other business. There’s nothing to make you stand out. How will people remember you?


If this is you, then first of all, don’t panic. There are hundreds of other people in the same position as you right now, and that’s exactly why I’m writing this post!



So, how can I get around these issues and create a unique image for my brand online?


The solution I’m going to share with you today is creating a Brand Illustration System.


A brand illu-what now?!


A Brand Illustration System (or let’s just call it BIS for short) is a set of illustrations created specifically for your brand, that can be customised to convey different meanings and used across different channels, all while representing your brand in a unique way and helping you appeal to your ideal customer.



Let’s break that down with an example


Say you’re an accounting firm whose mission is to make accounting fun and your target market is millennial small business owners. You might be struggling to really convey this through your website or other channels, especially when you know most potential customers won’t even read your about page.


You know most other accounting firms just use generic stock photos of calculators and people signing documents, but that’s not going to cut it for you. Some of the information on your website might be difficult to illustrate effectively with a stock image, especially if what you do is different or unique. You also need people to understand straight away when they come across your brand that it’s right for them, and help them build trust in you at the same time.


Having a BIS and dedicated designer in place means you have a set of custom branding illustrations, unique to your brand, that are ready to be adapted for any need, and will always help get the right message across while staying consistent and recognisable.


You might use these illustrations to support different sections of information on your site and help communicate what you do, complement your blog posts or even form unique social media content.



Let’s look at some Brand Illustration System examples I love


Red Bull

These days Red Bull’s illustrations are mostly reserved for their content and advertising, but they’re still as recognisable as ever. I love the way Red Bull evolved these illustrations into cartoons and short videos to create advertising that is genuinely entertaining. The possibilities of what you can do with your Branding Illustration System are endless!


Mailchimp

Mailchimp’s BIS has evolved a lot over time, but they have always had an illustration element to their brand, helping to give it a human touch and stand out from other email platforms that were seen as cold and technical. This was extremely strategic on Mailchimp’s part, as they knew they could not only create a point of difference in the market, but also attract new users who would normally be too intimidated by other email marketing providers. Even today, you’ll notice that Mailchimp is very popular with small business owners DIYing their own marketing because it’s approachable and easy to use.


Salesforce

Salesforce is a good example of a brand using a BIS in the form of icons to represent their features, as well as mascots (the main guy’s name is Astro, he’s pretty adorable). Salesforce was traditionally positioned as a high-cost, enterprise-level software - right at the other end of the spectrum from something like Mailchimp. Unlike Mailchimp though, Salesforce’s adoption of a BIS is relatively new, right inline with their current push to reach the small business market. The decision was most likely based on positioning their product as more approachable and user-friendly, allowing them to capture a bigger section of the market.


Wildspirit

Now for my last example, I wanted to share a smaller business, just to show that you don’t need to be a corporate giant to implement a BIS in your marketing! This copywriting business uses custom branding illustrations throughout their website to great effect. Having a BIS is extremely helpful for professional service firms because a lot of the information we might be trying to convey on our website could be difficult to illustrate purely through stock images, graphics or even photography. Sometimes the best imagery to articulate our message is actually a metaphor (like using a stethoscope to represent a website audit), and a BIS gives you the flexibility to create these visuals.

So I guess you could say Branding Illustration Systems are pretty powerful!

In summary, a BIS strengthens your brand and helps your business become more successful in three key ways:


1. It strengthens your differentiation

Having your own BIS helps you stand out from competitors by communicating what you do differently, and showing your ideal customer that you are the perfect choice to solve their problem.


2. It helps build trust and credibility

A custom BIS also adds to your branding, keeping it consistent and professional-looking at every touchpoint. It helps you avoid ubiquitous stock photos and position you as a trustworthy, established brand.


3. It helps to create customer loyalty

Like we touched on in the examples above, a BIS can personify your brand, making it more human and relatable. It’s almost like bringing your brand to life with it’s own personality! This helps customers form a relationship with your brand, and stay loyal to it over time. Achieving this is especially important if for whatever reason you don’t want the brand’s founder to be the face of it (for example, if you have plans to scale into a large company - or the founder is just camera shy!).

So those are my tips on creating a unique image for your brand online - no stock photos necessary! I really hope this blog has helped give you some direction and a little inspiration for your own branding.


If you’re keen to learn more about Branding Illustration Systems and how I could help create one for your business, I’d love to hear from you! Just drop me a message through the form at the bottom of this page, or grab my pricing guide.



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Little Black Kat Creative
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