Illustrations are everywhere and they’ve been around for decades!
They are found in textbooks, comics, story books, banners etc; and now we find them on web pages too.
The reason behind the popularity of illustrations is not hard to find. The fact is our mind has always been attracted to storytelling- textual, oral, or visual. Illustrations have been integral to storytelling as they provide a visual medium to grasp the problem, main point or essence of the subject matter easily.
Illustrations are in our heart and wrapped up in our memories.
But times have changed and where do they stand now in popular consciousness?
Will that age old connect we have with Illustrations continue in the future?
In my opinion, it will flourish.
• Illustration have the power and flexibility to convey complex ideas and messages in an extremely simple but effective manner.
• Designers can use them to break or bend the conventional rules of representation to ensure their message is delivered with more impact.
• Illustrations convey intricate messages easily through infographics, maps, diagrams, symbols, cartoons and doodles.
• The element of fun, fantasy and adventure in an “Illustrative” representation grabs attention and makes it memorable.
But these benefits center on web design. How about the branding? Where does illustration stand in the world of branding?
I would say right at the center, deep in its heart!
When we are talking about brands, we are talking about the emotional connection that businesses forge with their customers. Your brand is the human face of your business. Human emotions come to the fore when we talk about a brand.
So how can we forget illustrations in branding?
Nonetheless, many web businesses prefer stock photography over illustrations because taking an “illustrative” route towards branding is more challenging than the one that goes through “stock photography”.
It requires a leap of faith to add illustrations to your brand, because humanizing your brand requires creative skills, hard work and willingness to spend more.
Stock photography is a cheaper and more comfortable alternative for branding because all you have to do is choose images, pay for them (many are available free)and upload them on your website or print on your marketing collaterals to give your brand some recognition.
This, in a way is ready-made branding with no brainstorming done or sweat shed as in the case of illustrations.
But the problem with taking the easy way out while building your brand is that it never works.
If you’re choosing stock photography over illustrations, in order to visualize your brand, it will become invisible.
Since stock photography is an easy and cheaper option, there are numerous other businesses using it to brand themselves. So how can you expect your brand to look different from others when the photos and logos you choose are similar to those used by other brands (many of them might be your competitors)!
Will your brand stand out? Definitely not, it will melt into oblivion…… go invisible.
Do not let that happen. Use illustrations to create a brand that stands out. By replacing stock photography with illustrations; you’re showing customers what you feel and believe and what your business stands for. That’s the truth. They will believe it.
Personalize your brand
If your illustrator’s style of expression aligns with your brand’s essence, this can effectively strengthen the brand. Real skills lie in creating illustrations that aptly reflect your brand; if your brand is all about entertainment then illustrations should be about fun. If it is about style and fashion, illustrations should evoke classic elegance. So on and so forth.
Illustrations help personalize your brand.
Captivate Your Audience
Well-crafted illustrations give your brand the opportunity to represent its services and message in a funny but attention –grabbing manner. Use illustrated imagery and mesmerize your customers to stay longer on your website and dig deeper into it. The longer they stay, more are the chances of fruitful conversions.
Break the Design barriers
Illustrations can give your brand the power to break communication barriers; you can surprise and shock your target audience into taking a good hard look at your website/marketing collateral.
Do the unthinkable like color the sea red or clouds, yellow. You could even get more adventurous and sail down in a boiling sea of lava in your wooden boat.
With illustrations, you can let your imagination run wild, and thus give your brand its own identity.
When you combine striking illustrations with your logo, typography and most importantly, your message- your brand will stand apart from its competition and become more recognizable.
Let take a look at some businesses that are putting illustrations to good use in their branding campaigns.
Brand watch is a social media monitoring tool that is used by organizations for listening to and decoding social media chatter to gain insights about their brand. This feedback helps them take the necessary steps to reposition their brand more effectively for better results.
The brand flexibility is vividly expressed in different variations of worms that represent different customer base. Since a worm is known for its flexibility, the visuals convey that the tool has the needed flexibility to serve clients from different industry verticals.
Moz is a specialist provider of SEO software and marketing analytics. It was previously known as SEO Moz and re-branded to encompass more products in its range. In the process, they re-branded their mascot: Roger. Roger was created in 2010 and since then has helped Moz created its own identity in the world of search engine marketing.
Roger add a human touch and turns problematic situations like rejection of faulty credit card number and error notification within software into positive emotional experiences.
What the four examples above show is that illustration isn’t just about being flashy and catching the users attention; it’s about creating experiences that make them want to come back to your product/service again and again.
MailChimp‘s giant monkey illustration is paired with an otherwise plain site, resulting in an interesting balance. One of the important facets that make the MailChimp illustration stand out is that it adds an element of fun to the product in general.
Illustrations provide far-reaching benefits in the form of brand humanization and better customer connect.