Neha Awasthi
11 September 2019

Some people can spend hours watching a sunset and some people can be bored after a few seconds. “What’s new, it’s the same sun that comes up every day.”

Similarly, a single product can’t satisfy everyone’s needs and desires. Which is why you need to market to people who will be delighted with your product or service – and not everyone. If you are marketing to everyone, it’s a losing game because you will be spreading your energy and time too thin. Even big companies like Coke and Pepsi change their advertising to culture-specific contexts to “speak” to the specific audience in that country.

If you notice the magazines on the shelves of a news-agency, you will find that they are all catering to a different types of people. Some magazines are for gossip lovers, some for cooking aficionados, some for sports lovers. Some are for the older, some for young and adventurous and some for the poised ones.

And they communicate very quickly who they are for. They communicate with the their front photos, the layout and the vibe around their photos. Your business also needs a similar sort of a magazine to quickly communicate who you are for (and who you are not for.)

How can you do that in your business? 

It can be done with the power of visuals. And Instagram is my favourite channel to do that as it is inherently a visual platform and it lends itself to creating that vibe really well. It shows your personality bit by bit every time you post without overwhelming your audience. Also, it doesn’t require you to boast who you are, but you can beautifully express in a more elegant and subtle way.

But often in the business world, we think of visual identity is only as your logo and colours. We think, if we slap our logo everywhere, people will start recognising our name. However, creating a connection in your customers’ minds with visuals extends much beyond that. It’s the cohesive look and feel of all the visuals you use in your business.

And the first thought is to use the stock photos. They are free and easy to find. So why not?

Can you use stock photos to promote your business on Instagram?

Have you seen a doctor’s clinic? Most clinics have the same bland boring stock visuals on their walls and in their brochures. And you’d find you can’t differentiate one doctor from another based on that. It fails to even grab your attention, it is boring and bland.

We often think of visuals as simply pretty, good quality photos but that’s not enough. If you are using the same visuals as your competitors, you are also looking “generic” and “bland”- and well..just like them.

Think about a time when someone is really present with you, looks straight into your eyes and make you feel like you are the only one in that room? How good that feels – right?

Visuals have the power to do the same with your audience and when you intentionally create that connection with them. They feel like you are speaking to them, and them alone. When you use the right types of visuals, it not only tells a story about who you are but they also feel like you know what they aspire to be, who they want to be, what matters in their life.

And you’d know by now that generic, bland visuals cannot make your audience – seen or heard.

How do visuals help tell a story and differentiate you from your competitors?

Today as I sit around in my favourite cafe with my flat white and almond biscotti, I can’t help but think of their example and how their visuals have helped make a connection with their brand in my mind.

It’s a cafe, started in Australia called Cibo. It has a distinct brand that reflects the roots of the owners from Italy. (I am assuming they are from Italy.) The brand is based around the vibe and theme of Italy. The visuals are black and red, with distinct themes of Italian beaches which easily transport you to the beaches of Amalfi.

Given a choice, I end up picking that cafe every time because I want to experience a little bit of Italy in my day. And that’s the power of creating a story with your visuals around your business.

Italy is my muse. I must have been Italian in my past life. So obviously I gravitate towards the brand.

 

How can you create similar gravity with the visuals on Instagram?

Firstly, you need to understand that visual branding is much more than the logo. It’s about the whole story you tell with your visuals. 

My clients often find it difficult to translate their true vibe to the visuals. That’s partly because they have this idea it’s only about colours and their logo. So they start putting their logo everywhere. And sometimes, that could do more harm than good. 

Especially on Instagram. 

Instagram is a social platform and not necessarily a buying platform. People go with the intent to socialise, consume content that they are interested in. Not to be sold to or have some company’s logo hammered into their faces. That can be a major put off. 

How do you then communicate your vibe and personality with your visuals on Instagram?

1. Start with some self-discovery 

It starts with knowing who you are as a person. Ask yourself what are your interests? What are your deeper philosophies in life? What kind of things do you enjoy? 

Do you enjoy Museums and Nature in solitude or are you more of a people’s person who loves to go out? Do you enjoy cooking or gardening? 

These things may seem frivolous on the outside but they are really important anchor points for your audience to get an insight into you as a person. We are so consumed with the business thinking that we tend to forget we deal with real people. And those real people need to see the human behind your business to relate. 

These little interests and hobbies, really help to showcase your human side to them. They can find themselves in those activities as well. Creating visuals around those things deliberately can help you communicate who you are and what you are about in an instant. It’s a powerful thing to attract your people and repel who might not be the right fit. 

2. Understanding your audience 

It’s important to understand what do your people like to see. For example – my audience is not into shallow small talks, they are introverts, and want to learn something, get insight for a better life and better business while getting inspired. 

So it helps me to put out the visuals that help them to see themselves in my visual stories. They dream of travelling more with their kids have space for creative things and it helps me to match the content for their desires. 

On this note, I want to also mention that you must not lose yourself too much to create what your audience wants, that you forget who you are. It’s a fine balance and the priority is always to reflect who you are first. To create authentic marketing that creates trust. When your audience meets you in person, they must feel like they already know you. That can happen only when you stay true to who you are and reflect that on Instagram. 

3. Being consistent with your visuals

I know! I know! Consistency. You have heard it so many times. But it truly is important. Imagine being in a relationship, where you don’t know what to expect. One day same conversation can trigger smiles and another day anger. You’d lose your mind. 

That’s the same with your audience. Your audience needs to see the visuals and same vibe over time, to really understand what you are about. 

If you are using deep and mellow vibe one day, and next day you are using bright red and orange colours – you’d throw them off guard. It would confuse them. So consistency is really important. 

It helps you to stay on brand as well. Once you have decided the look and vibe, you don’t have to overthink it every time. You know what to do and it takes decision making out of the process. 

To achieve this, I suggest my clients create a mood board with colours and the visuals they like and feel like represent them. And using that as a guide to creating their own look with their own elements from their life to stay true to how they show up online. 

Consistent look and feel creates immediate recognition and also triggers the positive emotions in the minds of your audience. Those emotions are the reasons they learn to make the association with you and your brand – and that’s how you become memorable over time. 

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Although it’s the same sun that rises up every day, people who enjoy watching sun rises, find a different beauty, a particular kind of solace in it every time. They watch it to feel the sense of calm, abundance and beauty everytime. Sun doesn’t need to stand out, but it needs to rise up for others to enjoy its beauty. So do you. And your business.