Five strategies for effectively using illustrations in your branding

People all over the world are spending more time online and brands have quickly shifted their strategies to adapt to this new normal. However, all that time online means that consumers are now facing a barrage of visual clutter from competing companies. 

That’s why it’s more critical than ever for companies to approach their branding in a way that’s clear, consistent, and unique—one way to do that is by using illustrations. Easy to edit and customise, the right illustrations can convey difficult or abstract ideas, while also adding distinct personality to your brand—making you instantly recogisable to your audience.  

Ready to start incorporating illustrations in your visual strategy? As Director of Marketing & Brand Creative at Getty Images & iStock by Getty Images, here are five tips I give people when it comes to strategies I use to effectively incorporating illustrations into my  their branding projects.

Choose your illustration based on customer expectations 

You need to think about why your customers love your brand and what type of vibe they expect from it—you don’t want to choose an illustration that feels decidedly off-brand and keeps your customers scrolling past your creative. There are as many illustration styles as there are audience types—and knowing who your customer is and what kind of illustration will resonate with them will be critical to the success of your branding approach. Trends such as neon gradients may not work for the same audience that has a preference for flat 3D drawings. Similarly, muted colors might not go over so well with an audience that’ll appreciate bright metallics.  

Pick a color palette—and stick to it  

If your brand has a primary and secondary color palette at work, then you’re already ahead of the game. However, in the interest of cohesion, it’s helpful to identify and add a supplementary palette to support any new illustrations that you add. As most illustrations are vector based and customisable, you can tackle this by first searching by creative concept, and then applying the color system afterwards.  

Document icons and User Interface (UI) elements in a visual library  

Once you start using illustrations, they’ll play a key role alongside the other major components of your brand, such as logos, typography, and color. But, to round out all of your brand’s needs, you’ll need supportive elements, like icons, buttons, scrollbars, menu items, and more—basically, all of the UI parts of apps or websites that your customers will interact with. By ensuring that the color and style approach for these elements work harmoniously with your illustration approach, you’ll help your brand connect more effectively with your audience.  

Develop a consistent approach for using visual elements  

Don’t forget about supporting graphics such as backgrounds, charts, and infographics. They also make up the visual vocabulary for your brand’s illustration approach, and it’s crucial to identify and use to right ones to create a cohesive system.  

Create a system of rules to stay on-brand, all the time  

Because illustrations are customisable and resizing is quick and limitless, you should establish a system of rules for your team to make sure your branding stays consistent. Whether you have new designers on your team or are using freelancers, these guidelines will be invaluable for anyone that works on your projects. For example, you might want to control stroke width depending on scale or choose specific colors as an organising principle depending on product category—or even make rules on when or when not to use icons. Creating these parameters will take time, but ultimately, it’ll help your designers execute on your brand more efficiently and ensure brand cohesion.  

You’ve got the strategies, now start creating 

To help your brand stand out in the long run, it’s important to set up the right foundations—and with these strategies, you’ll be able to do that easily. Remember, when choosing to add illustrations to your current brand strategy, you need to be conscious of which ones you’re choosing, why you’re choosing them, and how they’ll help you create a more engaging visual narrative. With all this in mind, it’s time to revitalise your communications and make more engaging creative by finding the perfect illustration today.