If you’re a marketer of any kind, then you must be on at least one social media platform. Do you ever get stuck when creating a social media profile and don’t know what to use for your cover image? If you’re an affiliate marketer or have your own business, how can you stand out in a sea of marketers?
When trying to do everything yourself in business there will be many consequences. We all have strengths and weaknesses. If we do everything ourselves, very little of that is going to be high quality. In today’s connected world, we can use resources like software, apps and outsourcing to make a small business look like a franchise.
There are several ways to stand out in your marketing but, in this post I’ll be covering how you can stand out in a visual way. By the way, if your product or service is not good then marketing can’t really save it. Assuming your product or service is good, I will be discussing the importance of creating a visual brand that’s distinguished from the crowd.
Even if creating graphics is or is not your strong point, I’ll reveal how you can leverage many of the creative resources available for free (some paid) on the web today.
Design is a key determinant to building online trust with consumers. For motivated users of an information site, bad design (busy layout, small print, too much text) hurts more than good design helps.
—Sillence, Briggs, et al. (2004).
Visual Tools For the Creation of Your Brand
The way you present yourself online, the images you put out, the design of your website, the products you create or promote are all part of branding your business.
On Facebook for example, you have your profile picture and your cover image. These are two crucial aspects to establishing your brand on Facebook. How do you know what kind of photo to choose? Do you just choose anyone and make it fit? The best Facebook cover photos are designed to fit and identify with the page’s brand. Here are a two examples:
There’s no need to be a huge brand to have a great Facebook page. Nor do you have to be a great designer to do so. It helps to have some design experience but, with today’s tools most of the work is done for you at a nominal fee.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example that shows how perseverance can pay off. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and to do so one must be “self-aware”, in his own words. Meaning be honest with yourself and admit you’re not good at design but are really good at leadership or whatever it is you’re good at. So as mentioned before, you need to bring on people that will help you succeed.
Gary grew his company from a dozen to a few hundred employees in just a few years. It didn’t just happen though. His first business was a wine business, still alive and running, where he made hundreds of videos about wine. Today he has the #AskGaryVee show and has over a million followers on Twitter.
So here are some awesome tools that will help you create your visual brand.
Canva is an easy to use app that creates social media covers and daily posts in a few minutes. It’s also good for designing ads and even entire brochures or ebooks.
There are a lot of templates for you to start with or gain inspiration from. A lot of them are free but others start from $1 a piece. Gone are the days of needing to learn Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, shoot good images and learn how to marry text with those images. Canva does this in a few minutes for you.
Now, don’t get me wrong if you’re a designer you should also embrace tools like this because it can make the design process a lot faster. When dealing with deadlines these tools can be a lifesaver.
Another tool I use a lot is the Envato Market. This is an endless resource created by a visually trained community that grows on a daily basis. You could not go through each and every one of the resources available on Envato if you spend an entire year going through it.
From WordPress themes and newsletter templates to 3d design objects and theme music this site offers it all. I first came across this site looking for a premium WordPress theme and found they offered a lot more then that.
If you have no web design or developing experience for example, you can purchase a theme you like, have it installed and even customized for you. If you’re a webmaster then they offer HTML and PSD templates to get started with your designs. Overall Envato is must-look for marketers. And, if you’re a designer or photographer you can submit your work for sale on the market.
A tool I found recently but haven’t used much is Illustrio. They are still in beta but from what I’ve seen so far it looks pretty good. This is a tool for people that have at least some design experience. They provide you with icons and illustrations to use straight off or to use in a larger scheme design. For example, it looks like a really good resource for infographic material. The cool part is that you can change the color of all the icons and illustrations to match your brand.
There are many other tools online today but those are a few good ones to start with. Having great content is one way to distinguish yourself in the market. Not only should your content be of good quality but it needs to look good as well. One of the first online guides I saw that was not only high-quality content but also had a great design was on Quicksprout.
This is one of their many “Advanced Guides”. It’s not only a pretty face it’s actually useful, intelligent content that if applied will bring results. So they haven’t only taken care of delivering great content but have made a visual impact at the same time. See the power of these two when merged correctly?
Of course you can dress bad content up and make it beautiful. Like an app that’s beautifully designed and well only for that, not to solve any specific problem. So think about what problem your product or service is solving in the market first, then design the visual brand around that.
A Unique Selling Position
Another way to stand out in a sea of marketers is by establishing your unique selling proposition (or position). The Entrepreneur encyclopedia defines it as,
The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition .
A quick example would be how Dominos exploded in the pizza industry in 1973 with “Guarantee your pizza will be delivered in 30 minutes or your pizza is free.” This is how they distinguished themselves early and have become a huge pizza company today. That slogan has now changed.
Another short example is someone who’s been doing marketing for almost a year now. They’ve learned a lot more then the person who’s just starting out and can teach them something. But, what’s going to make that new person go to someone who has only one year of experience? Their USP. This can be a guarantee of 1-on-1 attention. Another company that has a higher fee but a lot more experience will not be able to offer the 1-on-1 attention the other can. The larger company will vary in quality of 1-on-1 attention because they will need more employees to handle more customers.
You can also communicate your USP through your branding. In fact these are the most powerful brands. One perfect example is Starbucks. With the name they’re already telling you that they’re premium level, higher prices and maybe even hollywood star level. You come and buy their coffee and they’ll do their best to make you feel like a star. Writing your name on your cup. Comfortable atmosphere. Free New York Times newspaper to read. They even remember your birthday for a free drink.
Further resource: What a Unique Selling Proposition Really Means
Stand Out With Unique Content
Creating high quality content on a consistent basis is more important then just creating content to put something out everyday.
I think it’s really not necessary to post every day, what works for another business might not work for yours. More traffic does not equal more sales. More targeted traffic does equal more conversions, which in the end means more sales. So you could have less traffic and more sales.
There’s already a ton of content being created on a daily basis every single day. So how can you stand out? By raising the bar and writing high value content that speaks on your expertise, on your unique experience which no one else has. These can be case-studies that you’ve done or analyzed.
Another way, which I often use is the crossing of disciplines. What areas have you studied or been educated on that you can combine in unique ways? For example, a designer who’s also an architect will have a more systematic approach to design.
Think about how you can overlap knowledge that you have in different fields. It can be another way of providing value. You can make connections the normal person wouldn’t think of. The images in this post show overall the most important thing your content must do is provide value.
If you have beautiful content that provides little value then you’ll have little engagement. People will take a look and leave. It’s all people care about, what are you doing for them? Sorry to say this but people don’t really care about you or if you’ve succeeded or failed. All they care about is what can you do for them?
If you can seduce someone with visually compelling content, then you also need to be able to deliver and hold their gaze. Attention is expensive these days. Maybe because we’ve become accustomed to ignoring billboards and banner advertisements. And there are so many different things pulling for our attention but, that’s a whole another post.
From hundreds of emails and dozens of notifications everyday to our friends and family texting us and our stomachs growling for food. Attention has skyrocketed in value. The content we put out needs to equal this level of value because those are the same people that will be seeing our content. Imagine a thousand megaphones pointed at each individual everyday. Not a comfortable situation if you ask me.
Our content has be to beautifully designed and must provide epic value for the reader.
How will you create a visual brand that stands out? What will you create first with the tools mentioned above? If you’ve already established a brand, how will you make your design process faster with these new tools? How will you stand out in a sea of marketers?
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