For so many brands with an online presence, it can be easy to overlook the importance of imagery when it comes to developing their voices and identities.
Too often companies opt for generic corporate photography and stock imagery, and while these images have a valuable place in some industries, they can make your brand look disingenuous, indifferent or just plain boring if used too frequently and without much consideration.
It’s equally important not to rely solely on copy as a means of conveying a message. After all, users only read an average of 20% of any given webpage. Therefore, the images used on such a page will need to do most of the talking.
The internet is now such a busy and competitive space that it has become crucial for brands to make an impactful and memorable impression on potential customers. Incorporating illustration into your branding is one way to do that.
In this article, we’ll delve into some of the brands distinguishing themselves from the competition with illustrative content and explore why this imagery works so well.
Ecommerce brand Etsy uses brand colours throughout its illustrative content to tie in with its logo. The rustic tones of orange reflect the handmade nature of the products made by independent artists and businesses listed on its website.
I was captivated by Etsy’s quirky illustrative style, which incorporates a combination of different shapes, characters and objects to imitate the unique qualities of the items for sale on the platform. The overall effect is contemplative and friendly, emphasising to the user that Etsy is a safe and trusted place for creatives to sell their work online.
On the brand’s social channels, posts are reserved for showcasing stand-out products and sellers rather than illustrative content.
Team collaboration tool Slack uses bold colour without restraint, resulting in illustrative content that’s engaging and memorable from the moment you land on its homepage.
I particularly like the inclusion of characters within a scene, and I find myself taking more time to explore the images and their relation to the copy beside them. An occasional angular layout adds movement to the images and, in turn, emphasises the dynamic environment in which the software was designed to be used.
A slightly different illustrative style has been adopted on Slack’s social channels, but the colouring and use of the company logo ties it back to the overall brand identity nicely.
You won’t miss Mailchimp‘s illustrations in a hurry; partly due to the incredibly bright shade of yellow they have adopted, and partly due to the quirky, hand-drawn nature of the images themselves.
The energetic, sketchy style encapsulates an impression of speed, which goes hand-in-hand with the brand’s mission to make email marketing as quick and easy as possible for its subscribers.
It is clear to see that Mailchimp have made a huge effort to carry this styling through to their other marketing channels, which gives the brand a consistent voice.
Work management platform Asana includes an illustrated ‘tour’ feature, as well as a number of spot illustrations and animations elsewhere on its website. Predominantly constructed using simple shapes and a limited palette of a few brand colours, these illustrations are easy to understand and help to represent the basics of each topic.
The simplicity of the imagery here reinforces that the platform itself is as simple to use as it is to learn about.
While Asana uses a softer approach with the illustrations on its website, images that are posted on its social channels are made to stand out with the addition of black outlining. This serves to differentiate the style used on each of Asana’s channels without altering any other part of their design or character templates.
If you’re looking for full-screen illustration with an impact, look no further than the Salesforce website. Each of their featured products comes with its own unique landscape background, complete with Salesforce mascots participating in activities related to that topic.
The bright colours and sense of depth make the website especially memorable, and the placement of information has been well thought-out so as to strike a balance between these elements.
The product pages are designed as entry points leading to further, more complex information, which explains the dominance of imagery over copy at this point in the customer journey. Had this design been carried throughout the entire website, it would be overwhelming, particularly for users with accessibility needs.
On Salesforce’s social channels, illustrated landscapes are ever-present – if less focal – leaving room for other visual elements such as copy, CTAs and photography.
I really enjoy the styling of Headspace‘s illustrations, particularly the inclusion of little characters and the simple orange and blue colour scheme. The focus on the characters’ wide smiles combined with plenty of rounded shapes gives the brand the friendly and encouraging feel aligned with their positive tone of voice.
I particularly like the way that each character has its own individual appearance, reinforcing the idea that Headspace is an app that can be used by anyone and everyone to achieve a sense of mindfulness.
I was also impressed with the consistency of style across their social channels, mixed with some photographic content to back up more tangible topics.