5 Pillars of Visual Marketing Plus Some Free Tools

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Visual marketing is one of those buzz terms circulating a lot lately. With the way the Internet itself has changed over time, that is to be expected. Users have a certain expectation that you have to meet, and a lot of it has to do with the visuals associated with the content you create. You are trying to engage people around the world with a universal language, one done through images rather than the standards of text.

Able to evoke emotional responses and long lasting associations, visual marketing is a crucial element to any strategy in branding today. Failing to meet this standard could be disastrous, and possibly lead to a lot of work with no payoff.

Isn’t that every company’s nightmare?

Visual marketing can be broken down into five pillars, and knowing them will help you to establish a better plan to increase visibility and generate brand loyalty.

Pillars of Visual Marketing

1. Use Various Media Types

A lot of people will make the mistake of sticking with one form of media over others. There is nothing wrong with having your primary content be a specific type, but you should still try and add in others on a regular basis. I usually suggest a 1/5 ratio. If you are posting five photos with funny captions, remove one of the pictures and add in a video instead.

While you might be sharing a lot of graphic quotes, make one of them an actual infographic. This also applies to shared content versus original content. Try to make as much as possible original, rather than all shared. And instead of making it all original, add in a few things you have found around the Web to connect with other sources. Just make sure people know where it originally came from.

Tip: Content re-packaging is one of the most effective ways to create different media types based on one research.

2. Keep Content Relevant

An occasional off-topic tangent or item is fine. But most of what you present should be relevant to your brand, even if that connection isn’t very strong. Some kind of link should exist, otherwise you are diluting the message you are trying to get across. If you are posting something completely off the subject, try to find a way to link it up to your brand.

For example, a picture of a smiling pig might not have anything to do with a sale your site is holding. But adding a caption where the pig is expressing its excitement about getting 40% off of all merchandise does. You will find you can stretch things pretty far to find relevance.

3. Optimize For Platforms

Certain platforms are better for different forms of media, and you should optimize to match their strengths:

  • Pinterest is great for high quality images and infographics linking to outside links.
  • Facebook is perfect for rapid-fire engagement and the spreading of potentially viral content of all types.
  • Twitter is good for single photos, and linking to media off-site, then discussing it with short bursts of opinion and conversation.
  • Reddit is good for building a real discussion on any media you might have produced.
  • LinkedIn is good for getting visual content out to professionals in B2B marketing.

Remember to take advantage of different features each platform has, like hashtags, proper categorization, enticing titles, etc

4. Cross Promote Content

Most platforms will be good for more than one purpose, or the same purpose across sites. Cross promotion is a good way to get the same visuals seen on a larger scale and to increase your pool of who sees it. Sites like Twitter and Pinterest are more open natured, so you should definitely post any Facebook content on those pages as well. Or adapt visual content into other media formats in order to cross promote it further, like turning an infographic tutorial into a video for YouTube.

5. Make It Easy To Share

Part of marketing is getting others to get the word out for you. This can be encouraged by making it extra easy to share content. Have plenty of social media buttons on your website so it can be posted anywhere. Smartly double post things on your social profiles, such as cycling the same content after a couple of days so more people can see and share it. Ask for a like or share on Facebook if they agree or disagree. Include people to ensure they see they are meant to be a part of the conversation.

10 Free Visual Marketing Tools

Visual marketing is kind of like the industry’s new toy. People are only beginning to really understand and implement it and, as the buzz increases, it is becoming more crucial than ever to get on board. With the Internet more visual than it has ever been before, failing to properly provide such enhancements and engagement is a quick way to lose yourself a lot of visibility on an already saturated market.

There are many of them out there that you can use for free, and these are ten of the best (in my opinion):

1. Image Color Picker

Image Color Picker

The best colors are found in real life. Nature photos, the color of someone’s eyes, the fabrics of a woven blanket…they hold associations in our minds. But they aren’t always easy to break down, and finding the name or code of a color can seem impossible. This awesome tool lets you upload a photo or use a URL to the image, and click on the section you want. It will then tell you the HTML, RGB and HSV codes.

2. Google Fonts

Google Fonts

Once again, Google is sticking their hand into the cookie jar. This time it is with their very own font collection. They have thousands available, and all of them are open source so you can use them without credit or payment. Search for fonts by category, thickness, slant, width, script, style and font family or collection. They are previewed using the sentence “Grumpy wizards make toxic brew for the evil Queen and Jack.” That has to be worth a little smile.

3. Font Space

Font Space

Want even more fonts? This site has more than 21,000 options at the time of this writing, and all of them are entirely free. See what is popular, what is new, browse by category, year published or alphabetically, or find a specific character or letter. There is also a search option, though with how many fonts they have hosted, it isn’t always that accurate. Have some fonts to share? Upload them here.

4. Skitch


A product by popular note gathering application Evernote, Skitch works by allowing you to use fewer words by creating sketches and annotations. This promotes visual content above traditional content, and makes it easy to use. Draw attention to certain points, show instead of tell and share it across the Web.

5. Piktochart


Infographics are sort of the ultimate visual marketing tool right now. People love them, and sites like Pinterest are especially aimed at letting you share them. But not everyone has the time or even skill for making infographics on their own. Piktochat streamlines the process and gives anyone everything they need to get it done. Marketing specialists are using it all the time, as it helps to get the point across more efficiently.

6. Design Seeds

Design Seeds

Find gorgeous and unique color schemes based on photos of nature scenes. Flowers, beaches, forests, mountains…they are just some of the inspirations that create some spectacular combinations complete with codes. They also show similar colors that are slightly different, such as brighter or more understated to give you more options.

7. Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck

This one is cheating a little because while it is free it also has a lot of optional in-app purchases. But I wanted to include it on the list because it is a different kind of visual creation tool. Make stunning and professional presentations using images, graphs, animations and anything else you might like. Show off your data in a dynamic and interesting way that will keep people’s attention.

8. Quotes Cover

Quotes Cover

Another unique kind of tool, this one is all about visual versions of quotes. You can select from the thousands available in their database, or you can create a custom quote along with the optional date it was said. It allows you to select how it is going to be used for better customization, like Facebook Timeline, a status update or print. Then you select the font, color and resize it to fit your needs.

9. IcoMoon


Browse free vectors and icons, import your own, generate CSS Sprites, use a glyph editor and more with this all-in-one icon tool. They also have premium icons if you want to pay for the full app, which gives you more than a thousand more to choose from.

10. Visual.ly


Create infographics, videos, presentations and interactive graphics, browse through those that have already been uploaded by the Visual.ly community, and just get inspired. Not only is this a great tool for creative visual content, but it is an app that can teach you a lot about the process.

Have any good tools for visual marketing?

Pillars Photo via Shutterstock

Ann Smarty Ann Smarty is the founder of Viral Content Bee, a social media marketing platform, and the founder of SEO Smarty, an SEO consulting and link building agency.