In today’s world of online and print marketing, images are impactful, engaging, and necessary.
Custom illustration design is an incredible way to blend art and branding to boost your visibility across various platforms, especially on your website and via social media.
When you’re working to enhance the visual appearance of your brand, custom illustrations are a crucial way to clarify your message, increase visual interest, and keep viewers’ attention. More and more brands use them to express their brand’s promise and selling proposition. Unsurprisingly, custom illustration services have become popular among companies and brands.
In this article about running a successful illustration project, we’ll cover:
- Why should you consider using illustrations for your brand?
- 1. Brand Identity
- 2. Communicate Better
- 3. Improve your Content
- 4. Grab Attention
- 5. Social Media Expression
- Using Brand Illustrations Effectively
- As Featured Images on Your Website or Blog
- Winning Blog Articles & Content
- In Your Emails
- As Part of Your Ad Banners and Posters
- On Your Product Packaging
- Getting the Right Illustrations for Your Brand
- Different Styles Of Brand Illustrations And How They Can Be Used
- Portrait Illustration
- Product Illustration
- Comic/Anime Illustration
- Custom Typography
- Merch Illustrations
- Storybook Illustrations
- Illustrated Manuals
- Stock Imagery Vs. Brand Illustrations
- Digital Illustrations & Graphic Design
- The Dos And Don’ts Of Product Illustration
- Finding Inspiration
- Running a Successful Illustration Project with Flocksy
Why should you consider using illustrations for your brand?
1. Brand Identity
Custom illustrations are unique. They can convey messages, feelings, and emotions in ways a stock image just can’t. Thanks to this ability, illustrations can help you establish your brand identity. You can better connect with your target audience because illustrations can help depict the emotions, style, and story behind your brand.
Frequently, the biggest challenge is showing how your brand is different from similar businesses out there. Custom illustrations can help do that because they’ll be wholly unique to your company and can consistently showcase your brand’s identity across various platforms.
2. Communicate Better
Communication is crucial in every area of life. It applies to businesses, too. Many owners need help communicating their message clearly and risk being misunderstood.
Telling a story through visuals is much easier for people to understand in certain cases. People love images that they can understand quickly and evoke emotions. Illustrations can help create a bond with your target audience while your text informs them.
3. Improve your Content
Illustrations can help upgrade your content. Illustrations on your website or social media posts have the power to increase on-page time, views, and conversion.
It can make content more interactive and dynamic, avoiding boring your audience with walls of text, as custom designs complement your text. In fact, according to studies, relevant images in content can get roughly 94% more views.
4. Grab Attention
You’re blasted with tons of information, news, and images when you scroll through Facebook or Instagram. Because of that, it can be easy to just scroll endlessly without paying attention.
Custom illustrations, when done correctly, can help catch attention, even on a congested social platform. Research shows content with images gets 650% more engagement than pure text.
A great illustration that delivers your brand message and vision can pique your audience’s interest and keep them reading. You can also improve the chance of staying in their memories long enough to convince them to purchase your brand.
5. Social Media Expression
Social media is about discovery. Becoming visible on social media needs to center on communicating ideas as efficiently as possible.
With creative designs, you can come up with amazing custom graphics that convey your message. While crafting a brand illustration might be a challenge initially, and you might traverse a few learning curves, once you get familiar with the basics of illustration design, you’ll know just what to ask for when requesting them in the future.
Your custom illustrations will help you hit it big on social media, and by outsourcing their creation, you’ll be able to focus on other tasks related to your branding and operations.
Using Brand Illustrations Effectively
Most brands use illustrations to create a lasting impression when advertising or promoting their services, products, or company. These custom graphics come in various forms that allow you to express your brand’s personality and convey messages you can’t put into words alone. A well-designed illustration works with text to create a powerful, easily digestible message.
So, how exactly can you maximize illustration designs within your brand? Here are some practical ways illustrations can serve your digital marketing and promotion efforts.
As Featured Images on Your Website or Blog
Capturing your target audience’s interest as soon as they land on your website or social media page is essential for action-driving marketing. A high-quality illustration that acts as an anchor image can help achieve that goal. It establishes a visual hierarchy on the web page and within your social media content. It effectively guides users through the content and across the page.
Winning Blog Articles & Content
Most of us would agree that illustrations add character and color to an otherwise plain blog or article. They give blog posts visual interest and can also help clarify information that may be difficult to understand without a visual aid.
Using an illustration that complements the content of your blog helps readers picture what you’re talking about, which, in turn, helps them remember what they read because visuals can enhance trigger memory retention. Next time you’re working on a post, try adding custom illustrations to increase visual interest.
In Your Emails
The average person receives roughly 53 emails a day. Because they can be so long and time-consuming to read, people generally focus on the ones with quick messages and visuals that spark interest. Illustrations paired with snappy text can deliver a message as quickly as possible.
The more unique, engaging, and custom the illustrations are, the better. Guide them through your email and pique their curiosity by leading them to discover more about your brand’s promotions with personalized illustrations. It can help increase your sales and customer loyalty.
As Part of Your Ad Banners and Posters
The most common online ads are banners. They use images to amplify their message and prompt the right actions from your audience. To ensure your banners get those clicks, you need to ensure every banner ad is interesting and custom illustrations can help yours stand out from the crowd.
Boost the central message of your banner ads and posters with relevant custom illustrations, and your audience will know you took the time to think about what you wanted your banner to say and look like by just seeing your image selections.
On Your Product Packaging
A crucial part of promoting your product, both on and offline, is the packaging. It’s your product’s first impression, and you need to nail it. Designing your packaging can be overwhelming because there are so many options, suggestions, and rules, and even the smallest decisions can hugely impact your brand identity and product success. After all, people do “judge a book by its cover.”
Using custom illustrations on your product packaging can make a world of difference in getting your product noticed and picked up off the shelves. They can portray your brand message quicker and get your audience thinking and feeling how you want them to before you even start talking about the product. When people start associating your product with a positive feeling and a strong, compelling visual, you’ll be much more likely to get the sale.
Getting the Right Illustrations for Your Brand
When requesting an illustration project from a creative services agency, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure it’s successful.
Know Your Brand
The first thing you’ll want to do to ensure a successful custom illustration project is to provide the artist with everything they might need to know about your brand- guidelines, colors, tone, audience, mission, etc. Consider your brand story. Why did you start your business? How has it changed and grown? How can your brand illustrations drive your message?
As you think of a way to describe the illustration you need, try thinking about your brand as a potential customer would. You should do some research about how customers like connecting with similar brands and if there is a style preference. That way, you can determine which style will tell your brand story best and successfully connect with your audience.
Do Your Research
Having a clear idea of what others in your industry do will help you get relevant and effective illustrations. You’ll gain a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Researching the illustration styles used in your niche will help your brand stand out by creating something unique and avoid turning off an audience expecting a certain style. Look at and be open to other styles that can help you achieve the same effect differently.
You can always ask your designer for suggestions if you don’t have a particular vision. However, it definitely helps to provide a few references to styles you do and don’t like. Showing examples of what you don’t like and explaining why you don’t like them is actually very beneficial for the artist. Knowing what to avoid can save time on revisions and questions. The illustrator can incorporate your insights into creating unique brand illustrations that meet all your requirements.
Understand Their Purpose
You’ll also need to establish the purpose behind the illustrations. What are you trying to do with them?
Brand illustrations aren’t solely about creating an aesthetic and looking good. Illustrations have an important function to fulfill and require the correct form to do so.
Are you looking for icons, frames, or character illustrations? Where are you using the illustrations? Social media posts, your site, presentations, email newsletters, brochures, apparel, etc.? Are they for print, or will they be digital? Maybe both?
Be specific about where your brand illustrations will appear so that your artist can design them with those goals in mind.
In the case of digital formats, consider both static and animated motion graphics, such as GIFs and short loops. When you know where you’ll be using the designs, you’ll be able to ask for the correct file types and understand if you need several versions for various platforms.
Experiment with Your Brand’s Aesthetic
You’ll also want to consider incorporating these new illustrations into your existing aesthetic. You could add a few elements to your header or footer, boost your logo, or provide decorative elements throughout your page and advertising. You could even inject them into your marketing creatives or email newsletters.
Seamlessly blending them with your existing brand style allows you to add interest without being jarring.
If you’re unsure how to add illustrations, you could test out how they might look by including them in just one or two places. Use a specific landing page or newsletter as a place to test how your audience responds to the designs. And create the same pages and emails without those illustrations and just use your current approach. You can A/B test the impact of illustrations.
As your brand evolves, you’ll get better at determining which designs your audience responds to best, and you can use that experience to direct the style of illustrations in the future.
Creating a unique style and brand aesthetic is crucial, but you also want to be flexible enough to change things up to keep your brand fresh and interesting. At Flocksy, we include brand illustrations for sites, emails, packaging, and more. Our designers provide unlimited revisions so that you can always update the designs until they’re perfect for you.
As your brand’s aesthetic evolves, update your brand guidelines so that your illustrator always creates the best representations of your brand.
Different Styles Of Brand Illustrations And How They Can Be Used
Recent global trends have changed how everyone grows and evolves their brands. So, consider revamping your marketing strategy, assets included, so you can engage more effectively, attract new people, and showcase your brand promise to the fullest.
As you now know, brand illustrations are great ways to help you do this. But which styles are there to pick from, and what type of message or tone do they send?
Below, you’ll find a list of the types of illustration styles you can use to achieve your goals and what each style does best.
First is mascot illustrations. The artists can use these to help you create a recognizable figure, typically in a cartoonish or lighthearted style, that you can use across your marketing, similar to our Flocksy bird.
With portrait illustration, artists can create realistic, abstract, or cartoony images of a person from the distinguishing features that make them immediately recognizable. You can go the realistic route, opt for something more animated, or use flat or web-style illustrations.
Product illustrations offer a humanizing element to the UX of a digital product. They can help communicate complex ideas about how your product, or even service, works through eye-catching illustrations.
Similar to a custom brand mascot, a character can represent you, your company, or your brand. They can help showcase services or products you provide. You can develop the image for a unique fictional character associated with your business, an animal, a person, or even an object. Think Clippy from Word.
Whether you’re creating a digital comic, graphic novel, or short comic strip or want to create a little storyboard of original characters that improve the UX of your site, illustrations can detail the story you’re trying to tell.
A creative illustration team can create the perfect typeface and typography to achieve a custom font and text to represent your company or brand. Custom types can elevate your brand’s presentation wherever you’re promoting and stand out from cookie-cutter scripts.
Merch illustrations work great for sellable or promotional items and are designed to be “printed” out on a physical item. It can also include designing the look of an item or displaying the items in use as an illustration.
If you’ve written a children’s or storybook, these illustrations go onto the cover and inside the interior. They show what is happening in the story and appeal to a younger reader. Storybook-style illustrations can also be used in articles and blogs to illustrate a person or figure while injecting a sense of jovialness and warmth.
Manual illustrations are perfect for showing the steps, contents, set-up procedures, etc., inside a user’s manual, aligning with your instructions to offer clarity.
An avatar is a form of character illustration that usually represents a person but can also represent a brand or company.
An icon can represent your brand, an item, a person, a role, a step, etc. It can be almost anything.
Stock Imagery Vs. Brand Illustrations
This all might sound like a lot, but custom illustrations have several advantages over stock photos. While they can take longer to get done, you can create something unique with a from-scratch illustration.
There are so many stock images, elements, and clipart available that it can seem very appealing. However, there are also a few cons, including:
- Non-exclusivity – anyone can download and use images from stock sites. So, you’ll want to remember that others in your industry can potentially use the images you employ in your promotional or brand material. You may even find it on several other sites if it’s an especially popular image.
- Cliche – stock images can be on the cheesy, over-the-top side. Since the creators are working to create something widely appealing to the masses, they can be less than subtle and very generic.
- Limitations on customization – creativity becomes a challenge when you use stock images. It can be difficult to find an image that captures your brand or the image in your mind completely. You’ll often end up settling for something close.
When it comes to illustrating, there is a great deal more creativity and customization. You can look forward to the following advantages.
- Exclusivity – you will have full rights to what the artist creates, and your illustrations will be unique to you.
- Personality – because you can create personalized designs, the artist can add a lot of character and personality to your brand. They can create something that evokes the right emotions without going overboard.
- Customization – because you’ll be working directly with an illustrator who you can communicate with regularly, you’ll get personalized service and art tailored to your exact needs. Plus, many illustration services provide unlimited revisions so that you can ensure it’s just right.
To make your custom illustration projects worthwhile and successful, you’ll need to create project briefs that truly convey your vision. Here are a few things to include:
- Brand & project background – give your illustrator the full rundown of your brand and the storyline you want to express through the illustrations. Provide some examples, if possible, so your illustrator can see what you’re going for and what styles you like. It doesn’t have to be exact. Rather, you want to provide a sample with design elements you enjoy and want to see in your final project.
- Clarity – detail the elements of your illustration that the artist must include (e.g., particular colors, shapes, styles) and the elements you dislike and don’t want to see. Taking the time to explain these things to your illustrator will help them understand the boundaries they’ll be creating in and your desire for the final product.
- Brand & project assets – give your illustrator a set of brand guidelines, if you have them, and any files they can use as reference points. If the project brief platform has it, take advantage of brand buckets or a library where you can attach everything related to creating assets for your business.
- Your goals – explain the goal you want to achieve with the illustration. Is it to engage or to inform? Are you selling? Let your illustrator know so that they can use the design to showcase the most important action-driving parts of your brand illustrations.
- Target audience – let your illustrator know as much as possible about who you are targeting with your illustrations and why.
Digital Illustrations & Graphic Design
Digital illustrators are increasingly popular. Graphic designers and digital artists can use various illustration tools to create something amazing.
Modern graphic design illustration is usually divided into two categories – Freehand Digital Illustration and Vector Illustration.
Freehand Digital Illustration
Freehand Digital Illustration works just like using a pen and ink to create an illustration. Visual artists can use a stylus or pen to draw an imaginative design. They can use modern tools to insert the appropriate colors, employ brushes, and use paint or tool presets to enhance digital illustration.
Because the design is still done on the computer, you can still make creative changes and revisions easily.
You can use various tools to create a custom digital illustration. However, the graphical illustration is typically in raster mode, which means you can only zoom or expand it so much before it becomes blurry. If you’re doing something on a large scale, you’ll want to let the designer know so that they can start in the right size.
Freehand digital illustration is the best choice for storyboarding, animation, recreation, and other more artistic designs.
You can save vector files in PDF, EPS, or SVG. That means you can magnify the vectors and scale them to the size you need without pixelation. They can also be better able to define specific outlines. Vectoring images creates a more precise, subtle illustration and works well for simple logos and designs.
Vector illustrations are also better for print media. You can use text and font. Additionally, you can rotate or change the images for your desired results. However, vectors typically cannot create photorealistic designs or images.
The Dos And Don’ts Of Product Illustration
When looking for the perfect illustration for your brand, there are also a few dos and don’ts that will help you get started.
Custom illustration is a blank canvas; you can do almost anything with it. You can create something stunning that defines your product and personifies your brand.
While you definitely want to be as creative as possible, heed these basic guidelines to improve your design.
- Take the time to read up on the styles you like.
- Choose one illustration style for your design.
- Pick out a color palette that compliments your design goals.
- Establish a budget.
- Keep your illustration style as clean and bright as possible.
- Select images that account for viewing on different devices.
- Choose a design or style just to be different.
- Create something basic that doesn’t stand out.
- Be overly worried about the color scheme at the beginning instead of your design intention.
- Plagiarize from others.
Start by determining which features of your brand you want to focus on and what style inspires you. Examine your target market and the products or services of your competitors. What are they doing that you like? What are they doing that you don’t like? Why do you think people like your competitors’ products? What does their style look like?
Try to create a mood board or folder of inspirational images and concepts that fit your brand.
Understand that custom illustrations are the way to go for totally personalized images. You won’t be able to do the same thing with graphic software. There is much more to creating an image than just drag-and-dropping graphic elements into an editing window.
Get professional assistance and work with illustrators willing to take the time to help you find your style and offer services for unlimited revisions. It will ensure that you love your final design, and the illustrator gets to know your brand for all future work.
Running a Successful Illustration Project with Flocksy
As you can see, getting the right design for your business or brand comes down to understanding what you want your illustration to do and what style you think is right for your industry.
At Flocksy, our illustrators can help you to create the perfect mascot, logo, or freehand illustration for your unique company, and best of all, we make it simple to tell the artists what you need. Our intuitive design briefs guide you through the request to ensure you include all the information necessary to create something amazing.
In fact, those design briefs are where all the most important aspects of the request are clarified. No matter who you use, but especially with Flocksy, it’s essential to go through each of the sections in the brief and fill them out to the best of your ability. Could this take you longer to officially start your project? Sure. Will it cut down on revision time and avoid starting delays due to unclear information? Almost certainly.
For example, the main section that asks for a description of what you need to be done should be as detailed as you can make it, and providing reference images is also very useful.
We also provide brand buckets so that you can attach all your references, resources, brand guidelines, colors, and more to each and every one of your projects with the simple click of a button. Upload your files once, and you’re good to go on all future requests.
One of the most useful parts of our unlimited custom illustrations service is the relationships you’ll build with your artists. You’ll form a true partnership with your design team, and they’ll get to know your brand and style so well that it’ll cut down on completion and revision times. Your growth will know no bounds.
Many people don’t have time to study illustration design. That’s where an unlimited illustration service comes in. Collaboration between artists, business owners, and marketing professionals can create a custom illustration that will wow your audience.
By working with a talented team of illustrators, you can create the perfect image to go along with your message. If you’re ready to get started, be sure to check out our unlimited custom illustration services. For a flat monthly fee, we’ll create unlimited designs with unlimited revisions, and you’ll always work with a professional artist who can help turn your idea into a custom illustration.