A Great Tip Removes the ‘Im’ from ‘Impossible’
Any business will benefit from having high quality visual assets. I discussed this at length in my Visual Communications Primer (and video) about the principle of high quality visual assets helping you achieve ACE (Authority, Clarity and Emotional connection). For companies wanting to achieve ACE at scale, this means throwing crazy amounts of money at advertising or (preferably for so many reasons) committing to an ongoing content marketing initiative. This in turn gives rise to a perpetual need to create this content on a weekly or even daily basis. At this point, most companies find a professional digital media agency or hire the required talent in house.
As an intermediate step, many smaller companies and solo-preneurs opt for a DIY approach which can be challenging and often yields counter-productive results! The good news is that there is a way to create your own high quality visuals for social media without a designer and they don’t have to be tacky or embarrassing.
My last post about smartphone photography demonstrated that you don’t actually have to spend anything to start building up a great collection of stock photography for your brand. This post is about value adding to those photos with with stunning results and very little time commitment. Best still, it’s not going to cost you a penny °¬)
If you watch the video above you’ll see that it’s all done on a brilliant, cloud-based piece of software called canva.com. The video will guide you through the process (I actually create a couple of projects from start to finish). You can also download my free, step by step guide detailing the process and providing a few extra tool-tips.
Here are some examples of what’s possible. I whipped these visuals up in no time using my midrange smartphone photos:
Some Simple Visual Content Design Principles
- Keep your typography simple. Don’t use too many fonts (one or two is usually best). Make sure what ever you write is easily read at a glance and gives your words a chance to breathe (don’t crowd them too much or put them too close to the edges – unless you’re doing it for effect!)
- Use colour effectively. Look for dominant or accent colours in your photos and use complimentary (opposing) or analogous (similar) colours in your type or other graphical elements. Try to create a cohesive, harmonious end result.
- When coming up with a message for a Quotecard or Meme, I try to stick with with my own acronym SMART: simple, memorable, amusing, relevant, timeless. Beyond that, try to keep it short and bold °¬)
- Incorporate your logo either nicely featured as part of the design, or as a watermark. This is not about copyright, that automatically belongs to you. It’s about images finding their way around the internet and being shared and emailed (and even stolen!) If your branding is on there, it’s still spreading your unique message and adding value to your brand.
- Experiment. Be bold and don’t be scared! There is no such thing as safe design. If it doesn’t work, no one gets hurt! You just start again. By taking risks, you’ll push yourself out of your comfort zone and that’s where the magic happens. It’s also where you’ll grow most as a designer.
Beyond the Pretty Pictures
Beyond your new-found ability to quickly create your own fantastic designs, you want to be thinking about your message. Think about the community you wish to build around your brand. It’ll be defined by one of two things: either it’s the people who buy from you or it’s people who look to you for inspiration and/or information as the authority in your field. I will deal with this as a topic in it’s own right pretty soon as there’s a whole rabbit warren beneath the surface but for now, just be mindful of who’s life you’re trying to improve with your fabulous visual content.
The Bottomless Cup of Tea
I grew up in Australia and back in the 80s there was a 24 hour, America-style diner chain in Melbourne called Denny’s. For some reason, anyone who was around in those days will crack out a big smile if you mention Denny’s before shouting out “DENNY’S!” as the memories flood back. Anyway, I always remember their bottomless cup of tea. Not because it was a favourite of mine, but because someone in the group always ordered it. Don’t know if it was the cheapo or just the person who had already pre-eaten but the bottomless bought you license to stay all day if you wanted (or all night).
If indeed you are an expert in your field, it’s time to start thinking of yourself as a bottomless wealth of value in your field. If you’re new to content creation, you may not yet be aware of this but once you start collating your ideas, writing them down, repurposing them, sharing them and examining them more closely, you’ll find that you are indeed bottomless.
A great starting point for inspiration is your main content channel. If you have a podcast, a youtube show or a blog (or all of the above!) try to spin-off three to six quotes from each episode or post. Make sure they’re good’uns. The purpose of these ‘content bites’ is to get the viewer to taste (and enjoy) some little hors d’oeuvres before being enticed back for a main course. If you’re successful on both counts, you have just scored one more subscriber °¬)
Share What you Create
Please join our new facebook group at facebook.com/groups/rocketland and share with us what you’ve created and any stories you have about how you’ve used your new visual assets.
So, get busy and be brave and I’ll catch you next time (we’re going to step it up a notch °¬)
Jonas Stuart is the founder and content director at Rocketland Media. He is a visual communications and content marketing expert with 20 years experience helping brands connect with their marketplace. In that time he’s helped countless businesses struggling to communicate with and engage with their target audience including start-ups, SMEs and PLCs. Today he utilises online video and social media to help companies grow a dedicated community around their brand.