Visual expression in our society defines, qualifies, and impacts every level of business, regardless of product, service, or message. Visual marketing comprises the various processes and techniques used to promote, sell, and distribute a product, service, or message to a targeted audience. Visual marketing permeates almost all consumer and marketing activities.

What is “visual marketing”? What does it do, and why in the world should you care? In a nutshell, visual marketing is simply that part of your marketing plan that involves visual media.

We’re a Visual Species

Vision is our primary human sense. At a very early age, we use pattern recognition to differentiate and learn the nature of everything around us. The words you’re reading right now are a prime example of our unique ability to recognize patterns.

Brand Awareness

Brand category leaders are invariably the organizations who employ the best visual marketing. They present simple, memorable, appropriate, and consistent visual images across their communication channels. Think McDonald’s or Coca-Cola–their visual cues immediately differentiate them from their competition. Focus on powerful visuals that speak to your target audience. Visual messaging, along with positive customer experiences, drive brand awareness, loyalty and repeat sales.

Identify Yourself

The visual marketing of your organization helps to build a brand identity in the mind of your audience. It begins with your overall corporate identity materials, those all-important visual cues that tell your audience who you are. It’s your logo, collateral materials, signage, sales tools, vehicles, uniforms–every point at which your identity meets the public’s eye. This is the front line of marketing, and all the more important to control because it’s the way we see things–our perception of something–that creates our reality towards it. Your identity materials must create an image that is unique, appropriate, consistent, professional, and persuasive.

Design with Strategy

Beyond your organization’s identity, visual marketing reaches into nearly every aspect of your communications plan. Advertisements, brochures, sales and informational DVDs, Web sites–the opportunities for enhancing your marketing activities through good visual planning and strategy are endless. No message exists in a vacuum; every message is delivered through a medium. That medium can be well controlled and intelligently utilized, or it can be poorly handled and become a wasted opportunity. Visual marketing applies intelligent planning to all communications media. More than simply design, it’s design that is supported by a cohesive strategy.

Organizations of every size and description can benefit from intelligent, well-managed visual marketing practices. Presenting yourself in an appropriate and professional way is the first step to ensuring that your message, your product, or your idea gets into the mind of your audience and inspires them to take action. And that’s what marketing is all about.

David B. Coleman is a visual communications specialist and founder of Imagine, an award-winning visual marketing firm in South Bend, Indiana. With 25 years in visual communications, he has provided consultation for such noteworthy clientele as the Cleveland Clinic, the Quaker Oats Company, NBC Sports, Bayer Corporation, the Odyssey Channel, and the University of Notre Dame. Imagine can be found at http://www.imaginevisualmarketing.com

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