Illustration has been used for centuries as decoration and to describe text, concepts and processes.
It’s been carved into cave walls, inked into religious scriptures and splashed across the pages of children’s story books. It’s also been used extensively in advertising over the years.
However, somewhere along the way it lost favour due to the emergence of more modern visuals such as photography. But today illustration – which now includes digitally-created as well as hand drawn – is still being used in business; even by the big brands, from Mercedes to Nike.
So what does this pictorial art form have to offer? And how can you benefit from incorporating it into your marketing?
1. It can set your brand apart
In business, illustration is a much rarer visual medium than photography. Because of this relative uniqueness, incorporating it into your marketing can be a smart move as it can help you stand out from the competition and create a memorable impression.
It can be especially effective when used by smaller start-ups as part of their branding as a way of differentiating themselves. Not only is it bespoke, but it also has a personal and authentic quality that is harder to achieve with graphic text or photography based visuals – something which can translate across to your business.
2. It can communicate abstract ideas
While photographs of real products and services make sense – people like to see exactly what they are getting – illustrations can be very effective in communicating things that aren’t so literal – more abstract ideas, concepts or experiences. For example, emotions, intangible benefits or brand characteristics such as fun or creativity.
In addition, when you illustrate you can visualise exactly what you want, rather than spending hours searching for the right words or a relevant photo in an online photo library. You can literally create and depict anything, there are no boundaries.
3. It makes for powerful visual content
Visual content is one of the most effective types of content out there. Not only does it attract attention in a sea of text, but it also conveys a message faster and more effectively.
According to a recent study by Infographic software company Venngage, 41% of marketers said that infographics and other original graphics – such as illustrations – were the most engaging type of content. So whether you’re creating social media posts, email newsletters, blogs or even videos, illustration can be that extra hook you need for people to take notice.
4. It’s extremely versatile
Illustrations aren’t limited to one aspect of your marketing; there are endless ways in which you can use them for your business. You can incorporate them into your branding, e.g. in your logo. Alternatively, you can just choose to incorporate them into specific content, comms or campaigns.
In addition, there are so many types of illustration out there from creative, detailed and hand drawn to cartoon, polished vector artwork and hybrid photo/illustrations, that whatever your business or industry, you can find a style which fits into your brand and will resonate with your audience.
5. It won’t break the budget
The cost of illustrations can be less than the cost of professionally shot or even stock photos – although this will depend on the route you go down. For example, getting a designer to create graphic illustrations can be kinder on the wallet then commissioning a pen and pencil illustrator.
With the wide range of digital tools and software out there, such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, it’s even possible to do-it-yourself – although you’ll need to invest time and effort into learning how to do it.
Looking for some inspiration?
If you’re interested in using illustration in your marketing and are seeking some inspiration, there are many online resources you can turn to. Try Behance and Pinterest – both have some great examples of illustrations used in business contexts.