Here’s added incentive to create a unique visual brand identity

By: Hannah Pinchbeck

August 23, 2019


Brand - Content Marketing - Digital Marketing - Featured - Marketing Strategy - Popular -

Every brand is built upon a good story, and it’s on you as a marketer to create content that makes the story compelling. That’s what makes a unique visual identity so important.

Hop aboard this train of thought and put on your hypothetical hat for a moment.

Imagine yourself as the manager of digital ad programs for a Fortune 500 brand. You’re handed ambitious growth targets with the expectation that you’ll generate a healthy amount of engagement and conversions from your ad programs.

Now, pair that hypothetical scenario with this very real statistic. According to Nielsen, people spend approximately 11 hours per day engaging with content in one form or another. Dissecting that statistic further indicates a sizeable amount of that engagement is a result of people browsing digital media on their computers, tablets, or smartphones.

On the surface, it would appear that, as a digital marketer, you have plenty of opportunities to connect with your ideal consumer. Unfortunately, you need to look deeper than the surface to understand the dynamics of the digital marketplace.

Shrinking attention spans limit engagement opportunities

You’ve probably heard the old adage that the attention span of a human being is now equivalent to that of a goldfish. This is a little over exaggerated, but not entirely out of the realm of reality.

Reports show the sheer volume of content living in the digital ecosphere means there’s plenty of information to occupy the mind. However, since there is so much content floating in the ether, the average person is losing the ability to focus on those ideas. In essence, people try and consume so much content, so rapidly, that they’re failing to truly process what caught their eyes.

From the perspective of a digital marketer, this is as much of a challenge as it is an opportunity. You’re eager – and expected – to generate engagement from your ad programs. You’re also up against reality, which is to say you’re competing against:Friends

• Family
• Publishers
• Business competitors
• Newscasters
• Influencers
• All other content providers

Anyone – and, these days, it really is anyone – connected to your target audience via social media and other digital networks is taking the attention of your potential customers away from your brand.

Numbers don’t lie

To really visualize the point, place yourself in the perspective of your consumer. This is a very simple exercise as almost anyone can relate to the experience of scrolling through content on a smartphone or tablet.

Think about the amount of space on those mobile screens. Now, multiply those dimensions by the number of direct and indirect competitors that promote content onto social media platforms. Checking social media is one of the most popular things to do with a phone.

As if that weren’t enough of an intimidating calculation, there’s another factor to consider. You need to keep in mind the amount businesses are spending on social media advertising which, according to Statista, is over $98 billion. By 2023, it’s expected to grow beyond $187 billion.

People remember what captures their attention

What this all adds up to is added incentive for your content to stand out from the clutter. It’s so easy for consumers to mesh different posts and updates together into one indistinguishable blur, especially on their phones. Adding the number of businesses that spend thousands, sometimes millions of dollars on paid digital advertising only compounds the blurring effect.

This is the simplified version of the formula:

Finite on-screen real estate


Thumb-scrolling consumer behavior


Lost opportunities for engagement

Boiled down to those simple terms and you can understand why unique content is so important. The average consumer won’t recognize your brand’s content within the clutter unless you make it easy to do.

What this means is that you, as a digital marketer, must produce that eye-catching content. People tend to gravitate towards visuals – or videos – that are bold, distinct, eye-catching, and mobile-friendly.

This is how a unique visual brand identity benefits you, the digital marketer. People are captivated by content that looks nothing like everything else in those cluttered feeds. When your content is distinct, people stop scrolling to consider it; and, if it’s really compelling content, they’ll click and engage with it.

Say hello to your rising engagement numbers!

How do you create a unique identity?

The best way to develop a unique visual identity is by creating mood boards. In today’s age, there are two types of mood boards. There are mood boards for the written word, and mood boards for visual content mapping. For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on the latter.

When building out your visual mood board, group together the top visuals in your brand’s content library. Use performance metrics from your past ad programs and website analytics to determine your top rated visual assets.

Now, look for the commonalities within those pieces of content.What colors are commonly prevalent?

1. How does the lighting appear?

2. Are there any people featured in the content?

3. Do any products appear, and are they the hero of the image?

4. Any particular environments that are notable?

The answers to these, and other related questions, will help you analyze which creative nuances contribute to engaging content. Jot those commonalities down and share them with your creative team. Why? Those nuances are variables that shape your visual brand identity.

Test your new look and feel in your ad programs

Once you have your identity mapped out, you need to test your theory with new content. You can use platforms that power your creativity to license content that aligns to your new look and feel. If you’re unable to find the right asset, you can create authentic bespoke content that’s produced to match your creative nuances.

Build up a library of content until it’s large enough to run multiple tests on your various marketing channels. Compare the performance of ads featuring your new content against those with older assets, and measure the difference in engagement or click through rates. If you see a positive trend in engagement, you know you’ve hit on an identity that works for your goals.

Be a leader, not a follower

A unique visual identity is a great way to go to market with a new brand, or to refresh the look and feel of an established brand. In either situation, you end up blazing a new trail by making your brand, through your content, stand out from everything else people see in their feeds.

This is a great way to establish, or expand upon, a brand reputation. Show people who you are and what you stand for with content that’s bold enough to make them stop scrolling to see what you have to offer. Over time, you’ll make new connections and build opportunities that generate new business.

Shutterstock, a global technology company, offers a creative platform for high-quality licensed images, music, footage, editorial photography, and custom content creation to advertising agencies, media organizations, and businesses around the world. Shutterstock’s collection now exceeds 200 million images, with 150,000 new assets added daily.

Shutterstock are sponsoring the Content & Digital Brand Strategy Track at #DMWF North America on the 11 – 12 September in New York at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

On 11 September Meagan Suckling, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Shutterstock will be presenting her session ‘Scaling Branded Content’ and taking a seat on the panel ‘The Future of Content Marketing & Customer Engagement Strategies’.