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Successful brands don’t just sell their products. They encourage consumers to adopt a certain lifestyle.
When a company website enhances our state of mind and goes beyond providing information to creating an experience, our perception of the brand changes–to the point that we can even become emotionally invested in it. This positive impression deepens our brand affiliation, which in turn leads us to become loyal customers and refer family members and friends.
Having understood that purchasers are frequently driven by emotions–depending on how effective an advertising campaign triggers them–digital and conventional advertisers use certain techniques to affect buyers’ perceptions. So, successful brands don’t just tell consumers to buy their products–they encourage them to make a series of decisions based on emotions.
To help you understand the underlying mechanisms at work here, in this post we will go over the most used techniques in visual advertising.
Color is powerful because it can influence our buying mood. Choosing the right color in your design and advertising projects plays a very important role in the success of your visual campaigns.
Selecting the right color requires a psychological understanding of how each shade and hue affects your visual design. However, there is no ideal or universally accepted color scheme for a general audience or even a specific socio-cultural group. What is known–as far as studies are concerned–is that color affects the decision-making processes of buyers.
Advertisements, posters and billboards use color to captivate the audience’s attention. Different colors evoke different feelings in the viewer. In a previous post on the psychology of color, we discussed the various emotional responses to color.
In the advertisement above, for example, red and yellow are used for a specific reason. While red emanates excitement (and can even increase your heart rate), yellow communicates happiness and optimism.
Repetition is used in advertising as a way to keep a brand or product in the forefront of consumers’ minds. Repetition can build brand familiarity, but it can also lead to consumer fatigue. Consumers can become so tired of an ad that they tune it out or actively avoid the product.
To be effective, repetition must be used in the right measure, since too much repetition may be counter-productive to an advertising strategy. By reusing specific images, such as a logo, advertisers can create a sense of familiarity with the product and brand.
Repetition is a powerful technique in visual advertising because it a good way of making consumers aware of the brand’s existence. But it should be used judiciously as it can eventually lead consumers to hide unwanted ads from their news feed or unsubscribe from your email list.
To be effective, repetition must be carefully planned and delivered in measured doses. Find the best time to strike that emotional bond.
TIP: Instead of posting the same visual ad campaigns on social media, create a minimum of three visual ads that you can rotate at certain intervals, depending on your target audience.
Another powerful method is the Direct Gaze Induction Technique. This is the the most tricky to employ since the main character in your visual media needs to have complete confidence in the brand message for it to be effective. Take lessons from advertisers who employ prominent figures to promote their brands or products.
In any of these cases, even the slightest bit of doubt, hesitation or fear can be detected by the audience. The result is that they will regard the ad as somewhat unreliable.
On the other hand, the direct gaze of a prominent personality would take the online and offline advertising world by storm. Just consider for a second the enormous popularity of “hey girl” memes featuring celebrities such as Ryan Gosling staring directly at the viewer.
In real life, eye gaze is a salient social cue that plays an important role in social interaction and communication. Staring directly at someone implies a demand or a request, as well as the expectation of a response. The same principle is at work even in a still image.
Another powerful principle is the age-old advertising concept of association. Whenever we see an image of people having a good time, we automatically associate their desirable state with the product they’re using. Or, take for example the ad below. We almost unconsciously associate David Beckham’s glamour and celebrity status with the Breitling brand.
These are nonverbal signals and cues used in advertising. Both advertisers and marketers use this technique in every aspect of product and brand promotion. Notice, for example, how the models below are displaying their “power poses,” brimming with confidence.
The harmonious and skillful use of gestures, stances, facial expressions and movements leads viewers to buy your product and promote your brand.
This particular technique refers to the arrangement or placement of visual elements in a particular work of art. Simply put, it has to do with the overall organization and the order of elements in a visual design project.
For example, the ad above creatively uses negative space and symmetry to create a subtle image of a wine glass. Every existent element–and everything that is omitted–is deliberately placed in a specific location in relation to the rest of the elements.
The Rule of Thirds is a basic compositional technique that is implemented by dividing an image vertically and horizontally using an imaginary grid, as seen below.
According to this technique, important elements should be placed at the intersections of these horizontal and vertical lines.
This technique refers to the path that your eyes follow when looking at a certain visual ad. Composers or design organizers deliberately re-direct our reading paths through the use of vectors. For example, if all of the objects in an image are tall, long and upright, our eyes will follow these straight vectors to the top of the frame. Vector lines guide our eyes to the most important information in an advertisement.
Vectors are often seen in media advertising campaigns in the form of commercials, billboards and web ads. Some ads may be created on the basis of vectors, while others employ them at a minimum. Vector image inclusion in media advertising depends on the subject matter, product, image, direction and overall look and feel of the promotional marketing campaign.
Most advertisements make use of this technique to provide a single, eye-catching focal point–rather than many salient points competing for attention.
Focal points are used to emphasize the most important part of a design. Focal points can be created by using contrasting colors or shapes and utilizing white space. A successful design is one that uses a strong focal point and directional lines to guide viewers’ eyes to the most important element in the design.
Symbolism is used in advertising to represent a particular brand, company or one or more (often complex) ideas. By using symbolism, advertisers are able to link a deeper meaning or message to the selling power of a product.
For example, crystals, gems or diamonds often go hand-in-hand with water. Both represent clarity and purity. Some other common symbols include an open road, which suggests freedom and exploration, and a lion, which symbolizes strength, superiority and royalty. Colors can also be used to symbolize emotions: Red symbolizes love and passion; green represents life and health; and black suggests sexuality and seduction.
Now that you’ve seen what makes these visual advertising techniques so effective, learn more about how to create thought-provoking visual metaphors here.
And if you want to put these visual communication principles into practice, there are online tools that allow you to create professional-looking visual content for your marketing and social media campaigns–even if you don’t have advanced design skills. You can try one for free here.
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