Good stories need great visuals to get noticed, and these days, they’re in no short supply. Brands are moving away from using stock images to high-quality photography either creating an original piece of work or sourcing exclusive rights. Branded Illustrations don’t just generate recall but help in narrating a story. When efficiently used visuals help in abstracting an idea.
Zomato has been incorporating illustrations across its branding and content marketing efforts, for instance, earlier this year the brand published its short-form annual report. The short-form report used visuals extensively to highlight facts from its yearly report.
Zomato also uses visuals and illustrations across social media. Branded Illustrations as a medium have a universal appeal and considering Zomato’s audience its ability to abstract concepts and characters works to its advantage.
In 2013, SEOMoz rebranded as Moz. The company that provides SEO software and analytics tool retained its brand mascot: Roger the Robot. Matthew Heilman, former Art Director of Moz responsible for the creation of Roger, believed that the mascot would help Moz establish its own brand niche.
Moz today uses Roger in a variety of contexts ranging from error notifications to rejection of faulty credit number. Roger turns situations that would typically result in user frustration to positive emotional experiences.
Dropbox has used illustrations to outweigh what other companies were doing with photography. For instance, the brand wanted users to feel guilty when they downgraded from a paid plan to free plan. To communicate the idea the illustrators at Dropbox designed two differently sized fishbowls to portray the concept of space without using files at all.
“What we saw that marketing didn’t see yet was that illustration was starting to become really popular in brands, and as it was emerging, people were already ripping off what we are doing. It was obvious that we were doing something right. So we wanted to push that.”
– Zach Graham, Illustrator, Dropbox
The idea was to showcase how sad your pet would be if they were in a cramped space. The illustration proved to be valuable as it dissuaded users from clicking the ‘Yes, I’m Sure’ button for downgrading the plan.
How to Use Branded Illustrations?
Step 1: Find your core values, message & target audience
If you plan to explore branded illustrations as a medium, then begin by identifying your brand’s core values, message, and target audience. Identify your mission and articulate it in your strategy.
Step 2: Find ways to differentiate
Once you identify your brand’s mission and core values you need find ways to differentiate your content. Finding the right express will involve multiple iterations and references from different illustrators. After you identify your style, you need to pair it with the right set of words, colors, logo, and tagline to convey to develop a unique and ownable identity for the brand.
Step 3: Be Open to Experiment
Illustrators use foam boards to try out different ideas and zero down on the final output. Towards the end of the process, you will usually find that your output would have been entirely different from the one you would have visualized. It’s important to try out different styles to see what works for your brand.