Illustration: Brand Your Startup Uniquely (Pt. 1)

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Are you looking for creative ways to brand your startup? Check out these useful tips on how iIllustrations will help you create your bands' awareness in a unique way. It's time to get visual.

We all know how convenient Shutterstock photos are: They are easy to get, cheap and you will find a picture that fits your topic out of the countless amount of photos – these are all very important requirements for startups. Despite this great array of stock photos you may have some problems: The picture might not explain your content in all its facets plus it is not exclusive. Perhaps you do not consider this a real issue at the moment but think about everything you have done to brand your Startup so far (and yes, stock photos also brand your company). Are you using stock photos for recurring content that is used by your competitors, too? If not, we can give you an alternative that will accompany your message with a figure that has various benefits. What the alternative is? Glad you asked! It is illustration.

Why should you consider illustrations as an alternative?

The market for illustration in Austria for example is very small, which means that the majority of companies have not discovered illustration as a marketing tool yet. This fact gives your startup the opportunity to really set you apart from competitors and offers a great number of benefits when it comes to getting your story across.

1. Illustrations help to understand a theological point better.

Whenever your startup wants to explain a message or product to the audience pictures come in handy. They help listeners to get a full understanding of a theological point because they allow them to visualize that point. Illustrations are especially useful because they are always adjusted for one specific topic. Stock photos on the other hand are made to fit various topics – that is why they will never transport the one specific message you want to deliver.

2. Illustrations connect your startup to the audience.

The fact that you choose an illustration for a message you want to send reveals a lot about yourself and your company. This eventuality makes it easy for potential customers to see your personal perspectives and connect (maybe even bond) through this disclosure.

3. Illustrations reveal the character of your startup.

You can select one illustration style out of a great quantity (drawing, painting, printing, pasting etc.). By doing so you also pick a personal story which will be conveyed with the image and shimmers in the background of any story you tell. When an illustration is featured by your Startup it is also linked with its brand.

The mentioned points show that illustrations are capable of much more than „just“ accompanying the content you want your audience to understand. Drawings, paintings, collages or aquarelles are a unique way to explain complex messages in a simple way everyone will understand. On top of that, customers will begin to connect and bond with your brand organically which will keep them coming back. Your brand is what they will keep in mind and can relate to.

Why is branding even necessary?

What exactly is branding? It is all about image and reputation of your startup. You could also say it is how someone describes your company if the name is mentioned. Branding is about understanding your target audience and what they are looking for. If you manage to balance the way you brand your startup with the needs of its potential customers, they will recall your startup easily and start to rely on it. In order to create a consistent image of your business you need to integrate branding across all on- and offline platforms you use. Now, what brands your company?

  • The company‘s name
  • The logo/visual representation
  • The website
  • The way you market yourself and your company (including all social media channels)

You probably already figured out how you want to present your startup to your target group. However if you have not and you are not sure how you want to brand your startup you can ask yourself these questions:

  • What sets you apart from competitors?
  • What is the name of your business?
  • What do you want your logo to look like?
  • What do you want your business card to look like?
  • Are your marketing materials consistent yet (e.g. color)?
  • What claim/message do you want to get across?

As I already stated, illustration can set you apart from competitors in a unique way that reveals a lot about your company. It makes your USP (unique selling preposition) understandable and explains not only that one point but gives insight in the “character“ of your startup, which will make it more simple for people to remember your name/logo/products.

Imagine you and your strongest competitor used the same Shutterstock images to brand your companies. It is highly unlikely that the audience can tell you apart. You can give your customers a reference who you are if you use non-recurring illustrations – created exclusively for your startup.

How can you use Illustrations for branding?

For a short minute I want you to think about the Apple logo. Apple has a trademark of an apple with one bite, no text. The majority of people can name the company to that logo, no one even questions the bite anymore – everybody just cares about their products and updates. The point here is that you might not even need text along with your logo, but the logo itself has to be unique and hence remembered. Here are a few tips on how you can achieve your goal:

1. Company Identity.

Set your startup apart. It will create a higher awareness of the company among clients.

2. Brand recall.

Having snazzy packaging is part of a company’s marketing plan to pull ahead of the competition. The logo design should inform – in an instant – what the company’s business is about.

3. First impressions count.

Your logo is always the first impression, so a potential customer should be attracted to it, otherwise he probably will not be interested in engaging with your services.

4. Instant association.

If you come up with an illustrated logo, a customer who has no particular company in mind, will be attracted to your logo right from the start. – This factor could bring you an additional customer. Thus keep your logo simple, yet creative and striking – a logo with too much information will distract potential clients anyway.

Overall we know that when looking for a product or service people are facing huge marketing hypes. As a result they tend to glaze over most of these hypes and can only be addressed with something special, something they do not see very often. Illustrations can be that “special thing”. When branding your business you do not have to use illustrations all over – photos are also an option every now and then. But consider illustrations as a tool which brands your company and connects it with your target audience.

Read more in Part 2: Practical tips for approaching and working with illustrators to get best results.


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Illustration by Everett Glenn