How to Use Illustration in Design as a Marketing Tool

How do illustrations make a brand unique, recognizable, and loved by users?

Rick Mess       |       Sep 6, 2021

Many people are plagued by outdated stereotypes, believing that illustration lies squarely in the realm of art and has nothing to do with business. (Try telling that to Warner Brothers or Walt Disney Studios!) This archaic view holds your company back and makes it less profitable because today’s digital illustration is all about business.

So let’s dispel these harmful misconceptions. Illustration is a marketing tool, no matter how nice and beautiful it looks. Its goal is to advance business, provide information, and attract people.

Let’s take a look at the areas where illustration is especially effective. Maybe some of it will be useful for your own business.

Fruits & Vegetables Delivery — Mobile App Design

1. Branding

Many businesses spend huge money to stand out among the competition, make themselves noticed, and create a customer base. Forging an emotional connection and trust between your brand and the audience is a very difficult marketing task.

The use of illustration in brand campaigns is a surprisingly simple and cost-effective solution.

How so? Illustration is a wonderful medium of communication. Being visually concise, illustrations provide immediate recognition, make complex things easier to understand, build trust, and are effortlessly memorable. It is a psychological feature of human visual perception, happily exploited by all the smart marketers.

Vertical — Branding for Music School

Any brand that uses illustration gains uniqueness and character. Images can tell the company’s history in a fun and informative way, addressing the audience at a visceral, emotional level.

Illustrations are human. The deeper we go down the digital rabbit hole, the more important these clusters of humanity become. Handmade drawings signal your willingness to treat your users with care and affection, to address them as fellow human beings.

This is the best choice for startups, companies with large competition, or any businesses that want to make themselves noticed and be immediately recognized. To the average consumer, even the nicest-sounding name is nothing but a bunch of letters that they will quickly forget or fail to understand in the first place (this especially applies to acronym logos).

An illustrated logo solves all these problems: it focuses attention, it makes the offer immediately apparent, it is visually memorable. Combined logos that incorporate both image and text are the most popular.

Depending on the type of business and brand goals, the logo can be either a neat, abstract image or an elaborate, detailed picture.

A mascot is your business’s virtual ambassador. It embodies the values of your brand and audience, “talks” to people, and creates positive emotions. Mascots are so memorable you can’t forget them if you tried.

Illustration can help you present your corporate culture, express your brand values, and motivate your team in a friendly way. Employees always like “inside illustrations,” as they bridge the gap between the management and the workforce and help convey the necessary message.

Outcrowd Corporate Design

Branding illustrations are made on the basis of their visual identity (corporate style, logo, color palette, fonts, etc.) according to the brand requirements and current marketing tasks. To be effective, the illustrations must be geared toward specific goals, being functional rather than decorative.

2. Advertising campaigns

An illustrated banner is a perennial trend due to the features of human visual perception. A banner with a creative illustration is often more effective than one with a photo. The reason? Even the most minimalist of photos have lots of distracting details. You can be focused on the drops of sweat on an athlete’s forehead or admire his muscles and not even notice that it’s actually an ad for running shoes.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen with illustrations. Today’s illustrations mostly convey meaning rather than imagery. Any potential distractions are eliminated. It’s a message that goes straight to the heart.

Illustrated business cards, booklets, leaflets, catalogs, posters, and calendars can present your brand in an effective and original way, make an impression that will have a memorable effect. Good pictures can make promo materials so attractive that people will find them hard to throw away — or at least, not immediately. So they will keep your promos around for some time, which is all to your benefit.

Illustrations can also be used to make branded souvenirs, such as printed t-shirts or caps, mugs, pens, notebooks, etc.

Outcrowd Corporate Design

3. Online presence

It’s increasingly more difficult to be noticed among the competition online. Unique illustrations are a great way to make your company’s online presence memorable, whether it’s a website, landing page, or social media profile. Illustrations liven up the design, spark interest in the content, establish an emotional connection with users. Custom illustrations increase a website’s conversion rates at least 7×. They are geared toward a specific audience (i.e. customer-oriented), they are emotionally engaging, and they make the interface friendlier.

NFT Marketplace with Illustrations

An illustrated character, visual metaphors, your corporate style, and the latest trends in digital illustration will all help your website design to make a vivid and lasting first impression on the users.

A presentation implies drawing attention to an object or a piece of information. Illustration does this instantly, immediately winning the audience’s favor.

If your product or service is difficult to describe in words, it should be illustrated. This saves your website from being overcluttered with extra content and makes the information more comprehensible.

Illustration is a great seller of products and services. And it works for free!

We are bombarded with so much advertising that most offers simply go ignored. An illustrated message, however, always stands out from the bulk of formulaic ads, drawing the eye and making us interested in spite of ourselves.

Creative illustrations are an easy way to draw attention to your posts and boost your brand recognition.

If you regularly mail out letters or ads to your clients, illustrations will become a part of your signature style and make your mailouts friendlier and more interesting to the users.

Illustration is also a useful tool for drawing attention to text. Even a small drawing is often more effective than a photo, which is nothing special these days. A drawing is a distinctive visual anchor. It encourages to read the text or at least the first paragraph. For instance, which section is your eye immediately drawn to — the left or the right one?

4. Packaging design

Illustration helps sell physical goods as well as digital products. Illustration is a versatile solution for packaging all kinds of products. It looks equally good on a box of pastries or a box of high-tech gadgetry. It is universally liked by both male and female audiences, regardless of age.

Packaging and Branding — Wendy’s Granny Chocolate

In conclusion

As we have seen, there are many areas of business where illustration can work miracles and make your brand:

- stand out among the competition;

- fun and recognizable;

- easily comprehensible;

- emotionally engaging;

- trustworthy;

- memorable.

Of course, this applies to professional illustration, not just any drawings. Before using illustration in any way, do some marketing research to determine whether it makes sense for your business and which areas will benefit from it the most.

Once you’ve done it, take the time to examine the portfolios of different agencies and pick the style that best fits your business and brand character. The visual concept must always be created by marketing experts, and only then realized by artists and designers. This is the best way to turn illustration into an invaluable marketing tool that will work effectively to your company’s advantage.