September 13, 2021 Content Chat Recap: How To Create Memorable, One-of-a-Kind Visual Content

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is how to create memorable, one-of-a-kind visual content with guest Amy Balliett.

Visual content is an essential part of any content marketing strategy, but many marketers struggle with sourcing or creating unique and effective visuals for their campaigns.

In this #ContentChat, we’re joined by Amy Balliett, CEO and founder of Killer Visual Strategies, to discuss how marketers can create one-of-a-kind visuals to elevate their content marketing. Read the full recap below, where we explore why brands should invest in visual content, how to document a visual brand identity, where to find visuals for marketing, and more.

Q1: Why should brands invest in visual content as part of their marketing strategy?

Visual communication is an efficient way to share information. Audiences connect more easily with visuals, and some studies estimate that visuals reach the brain 60,000x faster than text.

A1a: Visual communication reaches the brain 60,000x faster than text.

Audiences connect more easily with visuals, and it shows: 82% of all internet traffic is driven by video—and that’s just one of many kinds of visual content available to marketers. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/Ii95VeqgWi

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A1: Visual content is an essential way to deliver value to your community. Some ideas or concepts are best shown through visuals, like a diagram explaining a complicated process. Or, visuals can simply draw attention to an important point, like a quote. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) September 13, 2021

Some of your community members prefer to consume visual content, and this content is more likely to stand out on social media.

A1: Your community learns and consumes content through a number of channels and senses. Visuals are an important way we process information and need to be part of our #contentstrategy. #ContentChat https://t.co/41CiOTr71J

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

A1: Everyone consumes content in a different way and visual content is one way to broaden your brand’s reach and audience. And in our frenzied, overstimulated social feeds, it’s more likely to stand out! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) September 13, 2021

A1: visuals stand out, good visuals will stop people in the scroll. You need to grab the attention of your audience! #ContentChat https://t.co/TCGdSTeHUF

— JMatt (@JMattMke) September 13, 2021

A cohesive visual identity can reinforce your branding.

A1: I’d also add that having unique visual content can help reinforce your brand with potential customers. (vs. using stock images or repurposing someone else’s visuals) #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) September 13, 2021

Agreed!

Whether you have your own illustrations created, like @CMIContent with @jkkalinowski’s amazing work, or commission brand photo shoots, bespoke visuals do so much for brand definition. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

And most visual content can easily be repurposed to drive additional value across channels or formats.

A1. Reaches a wider audience and consumers seem to prefer taking in information in visual format vs text. You can also reuse visual content in so many additional materials. #ContentChat

— Mandi DeGroff Munger (@mandide) September 13, 2021

Amy’s microsite further explains the power of visual communication for marketing:

A1b: To learn more about the power of #visualcommunication as a tool for #contentmarketing professionals, check out this microsite: https://t.co/xcopiIcxCW #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

Q2: How can a brand define its visual identity? What are the essential areas to document?

All companies, regardless of size, should have a documented brand style guide. This will accelerate your design projects and ensure consistency with your visual identity.

A2a: Developing a centralized brand book or set of brand guidelines is key for any company, large or small. It helps you boost brand recognition and develop marketing materials faster, since you’ll have an approved guide for best design practices. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

As a content marketer, I find this to be such a valuable resource when I am brought in for strategy or content creation work. #ContentChat https://t.co/bdAQ1nVOaA

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

Super important! It’s the first thing I send to any new designer working with us. #ContentChat https://t.co/0VhQVYh76A

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) September 13, 2021

A2: Consistency in branding choices – use of specific colors in your visuals, specific fonts, even having a spokesperson that frequently makes an appearance in visuals can help! #ContentChat https://t.co/QeFeShNegg

— JMatt (@JMattMke) September 13, 2021

A brand book/brand style guide should include an overview of your company, its mission, your brand colors (in the appropriate color code), approved fonts, acceptable ways to use the brand logo, and a list of all product names and brand trademarks.

A2b: Every brand book should include:

✅ Introduction to your brand, which may include a mission statement &/or “About Us” page
✅ Logo & logo treatment
✅ Color palette
✅ Fonts
✅ Illustration style
✅ Photography/videography style
✅ Tone, voice, & messaging #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

Agree with all of these. My only addition would be a list of product names and brand trademarks.
#ContentChat https://t.co/u1hlzwjwW1

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

Consult a professional designer to ensure your brand style guide appropriately complements your ideal brand and goals.

A2c: When designing your brand book, make sure to consult with a professional designer, preferably one with a background in #visualcommunication, or a #brandstrategy company. They’ll be able to make sure your branding truly serves and complements your goals. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A2 Working with a professional designer will help a brand define and establish their visuals – logo, fonts, color palette, etc
It’s also good to have a clearly defined mission statement and goals for the brand to help build its personality
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/VgkVPv98iF

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) September 13, 2021

Q3: What are the common types of visual content that brands can create, and how do the objectives they serve differ?

There are 14 different types of visual content that marketers can create.

A3a: Today’s marketers use up to 14 types of visual content to achieve their goals, including:

👉 Motion graphics
👉 Interactive widgets, infographics, & sites
👉 Visual ebooks & whitepapers
👉 Infographics & mini-infographics for social
👉 Visual presentations #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/aqNo5J4kF9

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

For each campaign and piece of content, define a clear goal to determine what visual(s) will best support this goal.

A3b: For each campaign and for each piece of content, you need to define a clear goal in order to determine which visual medium is the best fit. For instance, #motiongraphics are great for telling stories that emotionally connect with your viewers … #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

I have to pause here and note it is still…surprising how often companies create content without a creative brief or basic goals in place before starting their project, and then back into “results” that are just whatever data they can gather after they hit publish.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

Amy and the community break down common uses for videos, infographics, ebooks, and interactive content below.

A3c: Meanwhile, #infographics, visual #ebooks and white papers, and #interactive content such as landing pages are great for sharing #datavisualizations and helping audiences take a deeper dive into the information you’re sharing. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A3 Some of the most common I can think of are
~Infographics in tandem with worded directions
~Presentations for prospects, conferences, etc
~Widgets for websites and outside links
There are a bunch more but I can’t think of them at the moment
-Alyx #ContentChat https://t.co/eafb3gUUhM

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) September 13, 2021

Interactive widgets are huge! They’re a great way to learn more about your audience. And they’re a lot more engaging than static content. In fact, #interactive content boasts a conversion rate of up to 70%! 🤯 #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/edyUufWeFt

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A3. Videos (short, long, straight to camera, behind the scenes, how-to, speeches) and infographics can be easy to conceptualize and produce on any size budget. I like to use videos and graphics to provide insights or info someone wouldn’t normally have #ContentChat

— Mandi DeGroff Munger (@mandide) September 13, 2021

Video content has become so much more accessible over the years. Now, anyone with a smartphone or a built-in video camera on their computer can create video. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

Repurpose your content in visual form for easy sharing on social media, or for other advertising opportunities like billboards or sponsored ads.

A3d: Make sure to adapt longer-form content such as videos and infographics for sharing on social. For instance, pull a single stat from your infographic to share on Twitter. It can generate buzz while driving traffic to your site for those who want to learn more. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A3: I think many think of videos and photos for social media right away, but it goes beyond that to billboards and transit ads. Depends on your budget and where your audience is.

But typically the quickest and cheapest starts with photo and video. #ContentChat https://t.co/82g7WK8RDa

— JMatt (@JMattMke) September 13, 2021

Q4: How can marketers source visuals for their content creation?

Custom-created visuals are ideal for brands, especially considering that many free-to-use image sites like Unsplash are frequented by marketers.

A4a: I recommend always using content that’s been custom-created for your brand. Cookie-cutter visuals and templates don’t make you stand out from the crowd, and using just ANY visual content is no longer enough: today’s audiences expect quality. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/oGhuxwN6dB

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A4b: The most successful visual content relies on entirely custom illustration, so I wouldn’t suggest sourcing stock visuals. Inspiration can be found at https://t.co/iCCYvZqmE5 and https://t.co/2aaeVqT2XV when you’re stuck. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

Agree 100%. Stock photos fall flat and don’t tell your brand story. Whether you DIY or have a designer on hand, custom visuals FTW. #ContentChat https://t.co/oC2E9xDqJg

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) September 13, 2021

Tools like Canva, Visme, and PicMonkey (among many others) are all viable options to support custom visual creation.

A4: You can lean on designers or a design/visual content firm. But, I know plenty of marketers that have to do it all themselves, so they use tools like @canva or @VismeApp. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) September 13, 2021

I’m a big DIY visuals creator, as is @AlekIrvin. It helps that I am always shooting photos with my phone and DSLR too. And I’m in @canva and @PicMonkey constantly.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

You can even use Google Slides or PowerPoint to edit/create visuals, just export your slide as a PNG. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) September 13, 2021

Makes it easy for even the most visual creation phobic of us to stay on-brand yet create just-in-time visuals. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

You can easily capture visuals anywhere with your smartphone. Or, encourage your audience to create user-generated content that you can use.

A4: opportunities to grab visuals are everywhere – hosting an event? Take photos (you can use them as both a recap to the event and provide as a tease for an upcoming event).

You can also leverage your consumers-if it’s a product people enjoy encourage them to post! #ContentChat https://t.co/OfV01E42BE

— JMatt (@JMattMke) September 13, 2021

Remember that any visual content you create has more than one application. With the right investment in quality, you can boost your ROI across channels.

This is such an important mindset: any visual content you create has more than one application. Find creative ways to repurpose your content for different contexts and applications to maximize ROI. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

Yup! Important to remember content from the past that you can recycle too. Few remember content you used months ago and you’re always growing your audience. Reuse what works (or tweak it a little). #ContentChat

— JMatt (@JMattMke) September 13, 2021

Q5: Why does quality matter when it comes to visual communication?

First impressions only happen once, and low-quality design leads to bad first impressions.

A5: Because first impressions only happen once. According to studies, 94% of first impressions are based on the design of your visual content. Low-quality design leads to bad first impressions. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/InyH9hevCj

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

Everything a marketer creates will reinforce or detract from the company brand. A low-quality blog post will displease your community, and so will low-quality visuals.

A5: As a content marketer, everything you do reinforces (or detracts from) your brand. If you use messy, haphazard visuals_or no visuals—that reflects on your brand. #ContentChat https://t.co/Vew7X08Ihe

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

What Erika said! You wouldn’t put out a sloppy blog post, right? The same goes for visuals. I always like to have someone who hasn’t worked on the project look at it with fresh eyes, too. They can sometimes spot design elements that look off. #ContentChat https://t.co/EMhx3gKaqu

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) September 13, 2021

💯 Everything you create reflects on your brand—and that includes visual content! If you’re producing low-quality visuals, audiences can assume you deliver low-quality products or services. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

You do not need to create extravagant visuals. Focus on the basics: what message will provide value to your community in visual form? What ideas or concepts are best illustrated, instead of described through text?

A5: I would say you don’t need high level quality ($$$) for your content. You need a clear message that is easy to consume.

For graphics, having a graphic designer does a lot.
For video, audio and lighting are important to get right.#ContentChat https://t.co/NzcjMiiQH8

— JMatt (@JMattMke) September 13, 2021

Q6: How can teams overcome the common hurdles associated with creating visual content?

Bake visual content into your content creation process from Day 1.

A6a: It’s extremely important to have the right process in place when creating visual content. Without a great process, you can have the best talent and intentions and still be met with hurdles. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A6: Creating branded templates and making them accessible by everyone on the team is a way to avoid one of the biggest hurdles with visual content—maintaining consistency! #ContentChat https://t.co/uptnlAUzTR

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

A6: It starts with prioritizing visuals for any content you create. At @ErikaHeald, we include visuals as part of our content creation process from Day 1. We outline the content, identify visuals to create, and roll it all out in one seamless process. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) September 13, 2021

Absolutely! Visuals should never be an afterthought. They should be part of your strategy planning process from the beginning. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

Document the 5 Ws to ensure your visual content will meet the needs of your audience.

A6b: When developing visual content, document your 5 Ws:

1⃣ Who is your audience?
2⃣ What are you developing?
3⃣ Why should your audience care?
4⃣ Where will your content live?
5⃣ When will it launch? #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

And then follow these steps to create your visuals.

A6c: Informed by your 5 Ws, do the following (after the previous step is approved):

✅ Develop the script for your content
✅ Identify a visual aesthetic
✅ Sketch/wireframe your design
✅ Design your 1st draft
✅ Ensure any design edits help you achieve your 5 Ws#ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

I would add that it’s important to get the base content for the design approved before you hand it off to a designer (this depends on your organization, of course). Too many times I’ve seen designers do unnecessary revisions because the content wasn’t OK’d. #ContentChat https://t.co/GafO12CRxA

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) September 13, 2021

Absolutely! Stakeholder approval at every stage is key. That process can be facilitating by having a strong brand book and messaging guidelines in place. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

Q7: How can marketers learn more about best practices in visual communication?

Amy and the community share their go-to resources for visual communication below. Did we miss your favorite sites or tools? Let us know in the comments.

A7a: I’ve created a number of resources, including my @LI_Learning courses on empowering marketers in all things #visualcommunication and my book, “Killer Visual Strategies,” which was one of Porchlight’s best marketing and sales books of 2020. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/9couPZwAUk

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A7b: You can check out my LinkedIn Learning courses here: https://t.co/z2K3fYReZD

And learn more about my book here: https://t.co/MrBQAgCMwz #ContentChat #visualcommunication #visualcontent #marketing

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A7c: Other resources that I love include @CMIContent, @sengineland, @sejournal, and @smx. #ContentChat

— Amy Balliett (@AmyBalliett) September 13, 2021

A7: With most things, it’s important to keep researching the latest trends and best practices to stay on top of your game.

There are several blogs worth signing up for newsletters from. I personally like @socialmedia2day – I could use more graphic design blogs too. #ContentChat https://t.co/DngpqwFzGg

— JMatt (@JMattMke) September 13, 2021

A7: One of my favorite books on this topic is from @Ekaterina “The Power of Visual Storytelling”#ContentChat https://t.co/mwkrezEKmg

— Erika Heald | Speaking at #CMworld + #MProfsB2B. (@SFerika) September 13, 2021

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