4 Ways Visual Design Can Improve Your Social Media Marketing

social media how toDo you have a strong visual presence on your social channels?

Do you want to build better online brand recognition?

Using consistent visual design elements in your social media marketing efforts helps people recognize your updates.

In this article, you’ll discover how using consistent colors, fonts and photo filters sets your brand up for social media success.

Why Visual Branding Is Important

There’s a secret that successful companies know about social media: A strong visual brand helps you connect with your community and effectively convey your brand’s personality. In short, it makes you memorable. Like Twizzlers.

twizzlers facebook cover image

Twizzlers social profile elements match their product branding.

Content calendars, brand personalities and tone-of-voice guides have become all the rage in social media circles, but visual social branding—the way your content looks—is still in its infancy.

Good branding doesn’t have to be complicated. In this article I talk about the essential aspects of visual branding, and luckily, each one is easy to create and implement! Let’s dive in.

#1: Set Your Color Palette

Does your company have specific colors associated with it?

If not, I encourage you to think about your brand’s personality and how you can convey it with color; a strong color palette is a key element of brand recognition.

Are you a fun brand that wants to inspire creativity? Use bright or pastel colors. Or are you an insurance brand built on trust? Use trustworthy dark blues and maroons.

Both Google and Virgin Mobile are examples of successful companies using established brand colors.

Google‘s color scheme is immediately recognizable and is used in all of the company’s imagery. The colors (primary red, blue, yellow and green), as well as their images, reflect Google’s playful, innovative culture.

google's facebook cover image

Google’s Facebook page uses the company’s color palette.

Virgin Mobile also does a great job when it comes to reflecting its brand uniformly on social media. All of its social posts adhere to the same color palette and are consistent with the company’s website and other promotional material such as physical store signage, email marketing and television advertising.

virgin mobile usa facebook updates

Virgin Mobile’s Facebook page uses expected red and black branding.

If you want to be sure you’re using the same colors throughout your marketing materials, write down the hex codes so you have them handy any time you need to create graphics. It’s a good idea to share the codes with your team.

#2: Determine Your Brand Fonts

Like your color palette, your font choice should reflect your brand’s personality. Don’t go crazy. You only need two to three fonts. Any more than that and your audience may be distracted and your message lost.

The 1 Million Women Facebook page combines a fun, modern font with images for its posts. Using the same font for each post trains their audience to recognize the company’s Facebook updates in the news feed, which in turn encourages more interaction.

1 million women facebook updates

The 1 Million Women Facebook page uses consistent fonts to encourage familiarity and reinforce their brand.

Do you have a font you use regularly on your social media posts? If not, pick two to three that represent your brand and incorporate them into your marketing efforts.

#3: Use Photo Filters

Color palettes and fonts may be things you already have in place, but have you considered adding a consistent look and feel to your photos?

Using the right filter for all or most of your pictures can reinforce your brand’s culture and personality and may even make your posts more recognizable in the news feed.

photo filter examples

Using the same photo filter on all your pictures helps your fans recognize your brand.

The first step in picking out your photo filter is to decide which effects work best with your existing design elements (e.g., color palette and fonts). Think about what kind of message you’d like your images to convey. Are you sunny and bright, cool and urban or colorful and fresh?

In their Autumn/Winter campaign, fashion retailer Zara bumped up their images with high contrast and a heavy vignette to achieve this classy black-and-white effect. Easy to replicate, this photo effect is a good one for demonstrating sophistication and a cool urban vibe.

zara pinterest board

Zara’s Pinterest board for its 2013 Autumn/Winter season.

Now, of course, no two brands are the same, and a filter that suits one brand won’t necessarily suit another.

Unlike Zara, fashion brand Tigerlily offers a whimsical charm in its imagery. The company uses a filter that quickly conveys the company’s personality.

tiger lily images

Add similar effects to all of your photos.

Is there a photo filter that would work well with your brand? Consider using one to bring a consistent look and feel to the photos you share on your social media sites.

#4: Design Consistent Templates

Now that you have your colors, fonts and filters (as appropriate), you want to be sure to use them together every time you create new marketing materials (even if that material is just a Facebook, Pinterest or Google+ post).

Oreo is one of the best-known examples of how templates can be used to great effect on social media.

In 2012, the company updated its Facebook page with a new image each day for 100 days. Labeled as The Daily Twist, the brand took a pop-culture reference and imagined it through the Oreo brand.

In the image below, you can see that Oreo created a specific template for the campaign. Each Facebook post included the brand’s color palette and font, an Oreo cookie design, the date, a title and a logo.

oreo daily twist image

Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign used social media templates to great effect.

These consistent elements tied each post together and made the campaign easily recognizable.

Take the time to create templates for quotes, announcements, sale products, promotions or competitions. They’ll make it easy for you and your team to quickly create and post timely content. And they’ll also make it easier for your social media fans to recognize your brand and encourage further engagement.

Some Parting Thoughts

The key to social media is building a relationship with your audience. Increase that relationship by promoting familiarity through branding.

When you use colors, fonts and filters consistently, your fans and followers come to recognize your brand quickly and your content stands out in their social feeds.

Set aside some time to review your company’s online image. If you take away your company’s name, will your fans still know it was you posting? If not, look at ways you can implement the ideas in this article.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these techniques on your social media pages? Do you have additional tips? Share your tips and designs below!

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About the Author, Zach Kitschke

Zach is Head of Communications for Canva, which makes graphic design amazingly simple. He writes about social media and has achieved coverage on Mashable, TechCrunch, NBC and The Next Web. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    I like the idea of applying the same filter to all photos your brand posts. Smart thinking.

  • http://entrebond.com Blake Schreckhise

    It has never occurred to me to make all my visuals have a “theme” with fonts and what not. I do use my brand colors generally on my visuals though!

  • http://www.medesignlab.com/ Matt Everley

    Nice, Zach! I’m a graphic designer and tout myself as a visual branding specialist. I’m always trying to get my clients to make their social media visuals consistent through color and branding. I especially like your comment about the fonts, because so many companies out there fail to create a streamlined campaign. Using the same fonts (especially your brand fonts) can go a long way to make images and campaigns look more professional!

  • http://www.pinprofitpro.com/blog Creative Business Coach

    These are all really important tips. As a Visual Marketing specialist I advise businesses about exactly these principles. Consistency in the look & feel of marketing materials has a subtle but vital effect, and I agree that the fonts are where people often trip up – usually by using too many when in reality ‘less is more’. Great post :-)

  • Reid Rosefelt

    I do believe that branded visual design might be good for social media networks with timelines, but with Pinterest–which rewards evergreen content– I try to make each post look as different as possible from the others. I use different software, design approaches, and sizes. I have found that, over the long run, I get more repins from a specific board this way (than in the old days when all my stuff was designed in a similar way) I believe that most Pinterest users like to create boards that look like they hunted around to find the things they liked the most–it’s theirs, it’s personal. I rarely see a board that is filled with a big sea of color from one blogger’s visually branded content. But I regularly see boards within my industry that have 6-10 of my posts.

    Branding must be essential for some companies, but for my work I only care about getting more repins every day.

    Just my two cents. : )

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  • http://www.pinprofitpro.com/blog Creative Business Coach

    ……and I forgot to say that I have used the terrific filter function on Canva for creating content for Pinterest, but I hadn’t thought of using a specific filter for all photos as a branding technique. Great idea! :-)

  • http://www.mikegingerich.com/ Mike Gingerich

    Great tips Zach! Love the filter idea. I need to get you on my podcast as a guest to talk about these things! ;)

  • Zach Kitschke

    Thanks for reading Scott! Filters are a simple but effective way to build consistency.

  • Zach Kitschke

    Hey Blake, there’s so many ways to build your visual brand through social media! Great to hear you’re using your brand colors.

  • Zach Kitschke

    Thanks Matt! Agreed. It’s so important to use consistent colors, fonts, and brand elements on social media. Would love to see your campaigns!

  • Zach Kitschke

    Thanks for reading. Glad you liked it!

  • Zach Kitschke

    Hey Reid, thanks for the comment! That’s definitely a key distinction with Pinterest, and worth considering when shaping your social media strategy. However there’s still many ways to brand your content using your logo, consistent brand icons and elements etc. Brands like Zara also opt for boards with consistent filters and themes. As always, it really depends on the type of content you’re sharing!

  • Zach Kitschke

    Thanks Mike! Yes, that would be great ;)

  • treb072410

    Great post, it was a good read and very informative. Thanks for sharing @zachkitschke:disqus..

  • http://entrebond.com Blake Schreckhise

    Yeah I need to get on it with the fonts and filters though!

  • Zach Kitschke

    Thanks for reading. Glad you liked it!

  • Nicholas Jacob

    presentation is the important part when presenting brand , visual design plays vital role in marketing, but in proper order,as everything should be in peer amount

  • treb072410

    Your welcome.. I really enjoyed reading it.. Hope to hear from you soon..

  • Ktawila

    Great post, thanks loads for sharing

  • http://www.itscarmen.com ≈ CARMEN ≈

    Great stuff to learn for a newbie like me!

  • Zach Kitschke

    Thanks Carmen! Good luck with your social media journey.

  • Zach Kitschke

    No worries. Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.squirrly.co/ Alexandra Petean-Nicola

    Keeping the same elements of structure gives your audience the feeling of familiarity and consistency. These are just the first elements that can put the basis to a real relationship with your audience.

  • PicPresents

    I hadn’t given enough thought to filters either… will get onto that! I always create a design card to remind me of the fonts and colours I am using. It is easy to forget when you are having fun experimenting with designs! I love the idea of having templates and I also make my visuals in batches (thanks to the sage advice from Donna Moritz!). Thank you Zach for a great post!

  • http://www.brianfarello.com/ Brian Farello

    I believe that creating compelling visual content is extremely important in the social media strategy for companies. Customers want to see something that will catch their eye that will stand out compared to typical ads/posts on their Twitterfeed/timeline/etc.

  • Zach Kitschke

    So true. Thanks for your comment, Alexandra!

  • Zach Kitschke

    No worries, glad you like it. I love Donna’s tip about batching content too. Makes it so much easier to generate content you can post.

  • Zach Kitschke

    Hey Brian, I agree with you. There’s so much other content, so the best way to stand out is with compelling visuals.

  • Jitendra Padmashali

    Good post Zach, According to me Social media marketing is a natural extension to brand-building because speaking to your audience with a consistent voice is imperative. Our social media services include the well-rounded suite of strategic and tactical tools.

  • http://www.shop.graciousstore.com/ Gracious Store

    I like the idea of having a color pallet and font for your site. It makes the brand easily recognizable

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  • Indigofera Beauty

    This was perfect! I have thought about most of these, but having it presented in one article is extremely helpful.

  • amir mohammadi

    hi zach, do you have any additional tips on designing a logo for a newborn business??









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