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According to Content Marketing Institute, visuals are essential to creating content that will help your business stand out and draw in an audience. Not only does imagery help make text-centric content more readable, digestible, and memorable, but it can be used to craft compelling messages that speak volumes without using a single word – just ask anyone who has posted a photo on Instagram, tweeted a meme to express their feelings, or created an Instagram video to share a memorable moment with friends.

Considering how rapidly visual trends come and go and how often new creative platforms and capabilities emerge, it’s always worth taking a fresh look at ways to let your brand’s photos, videos, and graphics do the talking. 

Align your visual story with your content marketing strategy

Like any content marketing format, you should have a compelling rationale for communicating with your audience through visual storytelling, as well as a clear plan for turning views into meaningful marketing results. A thoughtfully focused strategy can mean the difference between creating a one-note viral joke and becoming a master of the visual content medium.

Before you ask your content creators to sketch their ideas, make sure you know the answers to these questions:

Know the rules of good design

While the wealth of DIY design tools available online and on social media can give almost anyone the ability to create visual content, they don’t necessarily provide the know-how to do it well.

By following the few basic design principles outlined by Venngage’s Midori Nediger even graphically challenged marketers can learn to craft imagery that both draws the eye and drives the conversation forward:

Don’t be afraid to get emotional

Some of the most memorable visual experiences are those that found a way to tap into the power of emotion.

Personal stories can also up the emotional empathy quotient of your visual content. One way to capitalize on this is by keeping a lookout on social media for great customer stories that your brand can bring to life through powerful visuals. For example, Southwest Airlines turned a customer-posted Facebook photo into the memorable spot Hudson’s Big Day, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that the company captured on video:

Avoid generic stock images

Using professional photographers and high-powered camera equipment is one way to approach quality image creation, as their talents and capabilities can often help your brand tell richer and more compelling stories.  However, if cutting-edge equipment (and the talent to operate it) is out of your price range, using a stock-image service can be a viable alternative – but find ways to put your branded spin on the images.

Repurpose information and insights as visuals

Content marketers can adapt their most popular written or audio content into compelling visuals – including data-driven formats like infographics, charts, or checklists. Not only is it an excellent way to draw fresh attention to your evergreen content, but it also helps make your brand’s insights more digestible, memorable, and shareable.

For example, Venngage surveyed design experts on the latest visual trends they’ve noticed and turned the results into an infographic to inspire its audience to be forward-thinking with their designs:

Use your fans’ content

Consumers love to snap their own pictures and share selfie videos with their friends. Instead of interrupting their experience with product shots and promotional pitches, why not include their creative work in your content marketing?

Stay on brand

Whether or not you’re getting fans involved in your imagery, take steps to maintain your brand’s visual identity – including how your corporate colors and logos are used. Ideally, all your content assets should feature a consistent design motif – one that viewers can instantly recognize and identify with your brand, no matter where the content appears or who creates it.

You also need to pay attention to the way your target distribution platform publishes those images because the specs and size requirements might not be the same across the board. If you aren’t paying close attention, the hard work put into crafting the perfect image to share can get mixed up or mangled in a way that can mask your brand’s value.

Don’t forget to add your logo to your original images and tag them with relevant keywords, categories, hashtags, and metadata. This helps your fans find your content — even when it gets shared in unfamiliar contexts.

Tailor visuals to the delivery platform

In addition to appearance considerations, you need to consider how well those visuals fit the conversational context and audience preferences of each sharing environment. Of course, with the right insights, your visuals can find an audience anywhere – even in places you wouldn’t expect to be a good fit.

Find the right tools to help you get the job done

The above practices should make it easier to understand what quality visual content creation entails. However, producing that content on an ongoing basis can still pose a challenge for many businesses.

Though there’s no substitute for the expertise and skill of a dedicated professional designer, plenty of robust visual content apps and tools can help you manage the basics, like editing photos, adding captions, and reformatting images for social media – including those you can find on your smartphone’s camera app.

You can also work with more specialized tools when you are ready to branch out in unique visual directions – like the WordSwag app that social media strategist Rachel Pedersen uses to turn her ideas, quotes, and content into attractive graphics that can be shared on Facebook, Instagram, and anywhere. BreadandBeyond founder Andre Oentoro also recommends several apps he uses to spice up his visuals for use on Instagram.

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