Why We All Need Design-led Content Marketing

Why We All Need Design-led Content Marketing

Ever since marketing has become a buzzword and a key to getting many customers, human psychology has been dissected and carefully laid out so as to understand how brands can hook onto its no-longer-complex behaviour. As such, certain things, like how visuals can attract people and get stamped into memories more than what texts alone can do, is no longer something to gasp at.

A Study in 2019 by Neilsen and Taboola highlighted that the human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds.

While 4 seconds might sound pretty insignificant, if we try to recall how many feeds we see in a continuous scroll in just 4 seconds, it may not sound small at all. Right?

Imagine your brand message, or say your marketing ad, is one of these many feeds that your customer is scrolling through. What are the chances that they will resist the urge of their thumb to push the feeds upward, and will stop at your ad and read it wide-eyed?

WordStream says that the average CTR (click-through rate) for all display networks is 0.46%.

Yes, so, that puts the odds of a customer interacting your ad at less than 0.5%. Wow! That’s really tiny.

So, does that mean that your ad will lie in some dark corner of the marketing world, and go totally unnoticed? Not if you don’t want it to.

The sad part is that even though many people have, over the years, painstakingly researched the intricacies of customer behaviour, wrote thousands of pages of results and guidelines, and suggested the optimum ways to grab customer loyalty, most brands fail to even acknowledge these efforts. As a result, they miss out on the tricks to make their ads stand out in the crowd.

We have listed 5 reasons why your, my and everybody’s brand should adopt design as a tactic to enhance marketing and hence consumer engagement. Let’s get started!

1. Visuals are Focus Retainers

It is a well-known fact that visuals — images, videos, animations, typography — grab and hold our attention a lot more than mere texts do, no matter how beautiful the verbiage is. For those who need data to back the statement up, here it goes:

According to Jakob Nielsen, an average person on a digital device reads only about 20–28% of words.

So, if your marketing post has, say, 10 words, your prospective customer will glance at perhaps 2–3 words before scrolling past. Had there been visuals, they would have probably paused at least for a second before scrolling through.

Still second guessing about implementing visuals in your marketing strategy?

Here’s more:

Did you know that 80% of marketers include visuals in their posts?

While words are the best way to communicate, graphics and videos play a far better role in making people understand your message. Of course, the graphics used need to be appropriate. And interesting.

Use words to deliver your message but support it using visuals. In fact, use more visuals than graphics.

That way, even if someone is unwilling to read your message and quickly scrolls through, your efforts are bound to get noticed. And if your post is engaging enough, your user might just stop that almost mechanical scrolling for a while, and actually go through your post. Obviously, if it doesn’t catch my eye, why would I pause to look at it?

To add to all these, having supporting images or videos will allow people from all over the world to understand your ad content, irrespective of whether they have mastered the language of your ad copy or not.

2. Visuals Stimulate Emotions

Have you ever felt your emotions being steered by an image or a video? Well, I have. We all have, almost everyday, in fact. It’s the same as when movies make us laugh or cry, a card makes us coo, a tweet with an image makes us angry or a poster makes us think. Sometimes we often go ahead to explore a certain product just because we liked the ad. Either it stirred us emotionally or we found it relatable to our personality or lifestyle. Relatable. Now that’s a word that you would want to print and put up in your workspace.

Anyway, got the point?

The way ads and images influence you, in the same way, you can tug at the emotions of your audience and get them to notice your brand, if not love it.

Words are powerful, no questions on that. But when it comes to marketing, words alone are not always enough to stir emotions. People need a story, a motive — something that touches their very existence. And a small message used in marketing is not enough to tell a story unless, of course, it’s one of those one-line-story challenges. I love them, by the way!

Visuals, whether used as stand-alone or as company to texts, do a great job at conveying the emotion of your message which might be lacking in your copy. The thing is, how we read a piece of text depends a lot on our mood at that time. We might understand the context but might misunderstand the emotion behind it. It’s similar to a text chat where we often use emojis along with words to express our feelings.

3. Visuals Allow a Long Memory

Over time and again, it has been found that humans tend to remember things better when treated with visuals over text. We are not including book lovers (like me) here, by the way.

I think we all can attest to this statement whether it is backed up by data or not. Ever since we were kids, we have all been able to remember things much better when they were presented to us in the form of an image, a drawing or a video.

Using plain copy to convey your message might — just might — capture your audiences’ attention. And this mostly applies to those who are already loyal customers. But what are the chances that they will remember your message after, say, 24 hours? Pretty less.

Having visuals to support your words will not only make the message easy to grasp and interesting to look at but will also unintentionally embed itself into your audiences’ minds.

Well, they will probably remember it for at least 2–3 days, after which I’m sure you will post another piece of engaging content to refresh their memories.

A consistent flow of quality content will gradually allow your audience to remember your brand for a much longer time, maybe for a few years, who knows! In the battle of brands, a few years is a long time, mate.

4. Visuals Make Brands Recognisable

So you thought your brand can be recognised only by its logo and name? Scratch that thought out.

In a time when brands are popping up everywhere like mushrooms in monsoon, you can hardly tell one mushroom from another. I mean, one brand from another.

While a logo is the face of your brand, your posts are the gestures and talks that your brand makes with your audience.

Just like you have a specific way of communicating with people, your brand should have a specific voice that makes it recognisable even amidst the crowd. If you don’t share your mood swings with your guests, why would your brand do so?

Having inconsistencies in the tone and looks of your messages is equivalent to your brand having mood swings. People will find it hard to understand what you are up to. After maybe 2 or 3 attempts, they will stop even glancing at your brand.

This is the reason why many brands spend efforts and money to create brand guidelines. This helps them maintain a uniformity throughout every content they produce. Even if the designer changes, the company can share their brand guidelines with the new designer, and they can easily pick it up from there.

5. Visuals Help in Being Unique

recent article by Ben Schott published in Bloomberg Opinion called brands “bland”, and went ahead to replace every single reference of the word “brand” by “bland”. What Ben wanted to point out here is the fact that all brands tend to follow a common routine to promote their product. From the theme of the website to the verbiage used to the marketing ads, everything follows the same pattern.

Brands think that following the safe route will guarantee success, that customers will love what they see and will remember their product clearly from the rest in the market. What these brands do not see is that all of them look like copycats. People not only dislike copycats but also tend to mix up one with the other. I mean, obviously, can you tell one twin from the other if they do not have unique characteristics?

Using visuals that are unique to your brand will allow people to be able to distinguish your brand from your competitors.

Setting up your own style and tone will help your target audience to remember your brand easily, and not mix up with other “blands”.

How to Nail Your Design-led Content Marketing?

It’s tricky but not hard. The following checklist will help you know the guidelines.

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1. Empathise with your target audience

Empathy is the key to a good design.

That is one of the biggest truths of the universe. Think about it; unless you empathise with someone, can you really understand what they need? No. Never.

The most tragic setback of designers is that we assume a lot of things about the end-user. We create a user persona. We assign them a lifestyle, a bunch of challenges and requirements which, if the actual user saw, might be raising a brow at and saying, “Hey, that’s not me!”

In order to create a good user experience, we must stop assuming, and should start knowing what our target audience actually needs. We must shift our focus from what they want to what they need. That is the first step towards our goal.

We must know what moves our target audience, what their lifestyles are, what problems they are facing that we can solve, and what can we provide them that not only solves their problem but goes at least one step further. If we understand these aspects, our content for marketing will be automatically geared towards them.

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2. Have your Unique Voice

If you want to create a brand and not a bland, then you must have a unique voice of your own in whatever you produce. It’s like having your signature on everything you create. Obviously you would want your signature and not your competitor’s on your creation, right?

Following trends with a blindfold on will ultimately land you in a massive crowd of lookalikes where you will find yourself lost. Your target audience won’t be able to recognise you in the crowd because you opted to look like somebody else and speak like somebody else.

Although it might feel scary to bend the trend, it’s a risk worth taking, if taken in a calculated way.

Create MVPs to see how things are rolling. Depending on the results, gradually shift to a new mode or improvise on the existing one.

Do not make sudden changes to your brand’s look. People find it hard to connect with and trust brands that make sudden appearances with overnight plastic surgeries. Always make a gradual change in your brand’s look and feel.

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3. Maintain Uniformity

Maintaining consistency is equivalent to maintaining your image amidst your acquaintances.

Just like you have a personality of your own, your brand, too has a unique personality.

And just like you would love to maintain your personality, and not fluctuate between a rockstar, a hippie, a royal snob and what not every other day, your brand also needs to maintain its voice, look and emotional balance.

Have guidelines created for your brand’s look and feel as well as for its copy. That way, even if your team changes, your brand’s identity won’t dither.

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As Paul Rand has said,

Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.

It speaks for your brand, and plays a huge role in its success or failure. Adopting design in your content-marketing strategy will help you stay at par, if not ahead of your competitors.

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Loads of thanks to Alzea Arafat and ThreeDee for sharing these awesome 3D illustrations for free on the Figma community! We love you!!

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If you need assistance in deciding the best design strategy for your brand, and in maintaining it, feel free to drop a message at design-studio.io. We are eager to hear from you!