A picture is not always worth a thousand words

Advocates of the visual web tell brands to think visually and to take advantage of the emotional power of images. While not strictly wrong, these visual enthusiasts are not strictly right either. What they fail to realize or to account for is the difficult reality of driving visual brand differentiation in a world of strained marketing budgets and flat, lowest common denominator, make-it-load-fast design.

For the vast majority of brands, taking advantage of custom photo shoots or the services of a talented illustrator to create a unique and “ownable” look are simply outside of their available budgets. Instead, brands are left to rely on stock imagery, common iconography, or basic illustrations. Because of this, more and more brands simply end up looking the same. How many images of smiling faces gathered around a conference table have you seen? How many logos composed of nondescript serif fonts are scattered about the web? Here at Salt we call it “blanding”. So what’s a brand to do? Use your words!

To paraphrase Steve Martin, some brands have a way with words, and other brands…oh, uh, not have way. From big brands to small, those that take advantage of language and brand voice tend to excel. Take, for example, up-and-coming food delivery brand Eat24, which hits consumers with the message “BLT with your BDSM?” Or our own work for ServiceSource, where they tell their customers to “Get Greedy.” Regardless of the design of their communications, the way these brands use language helps them to stand out to and engage their audiences. So take another look at how your brand communicates, and if you’re not saying something unique, at least say it uniquely.