In this blog, The B2B Marketing Lab discusses why the importance of design and how the look of a content asset can improve its visibility and memorability, enabling companies to increase engagement and potentially drive conversions.
If you were to ask us about the importance of design and if the look of a content asset matters, the short answer would be: "Yes."
But let us explain why.
In the digital era of today, everywhere you look there’s some form of digital advertising; buses, cabs, underground TV displays, shop windows, even the bottom of cups! Businesses are pulling out all the stops.
It might sound excessive but it’s wholly necessary for companies that want to stand out from the crowd. Catching the darting eyes of potential customers is a massive challenge – one that isn’t becoming any easier – and attention spans are waning.
Taking this into account, how content looks is, in many respects, the first real impression someone has of a company or brand and plays a considerable role in whether that person chooses to ‘check them out’.
There’s also another important thing to note, dear reader: your customers can recognise the difference between good and bad design. They’re not blind or stupid.
It’s up to you to create aesthetically pleasing content assets that entice them into reading or watching more. If your content looks horrendous, why would they spend time reading or watching it?
But – perhaps most importantly – high-quality design allows you to establish your brand’s identity (when you market your business people will know it’s you), enhance the quality of your messaging and create confidence in your business.
Let's get onto talking about the importance of design with our first step - where do you start?
Where do you start with designing high-quality content assets?
Good design isn’t a ‘nice to have’ it’s a ‘must have’ and a critical part of brand building. But before you create high-quality content assets, you must first consider two things:
Who you want to target
The medium they use to engage with you
The first one relates to your ‘buyer personas’, these are – as defined by HubSpot – semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. Buyer personas enable you to understand the pain points and challenges of your target audience and create content that resolves their issues.
Once you know who you want to target, you can start to create eye-catching designs for your content to appeal to them. For example, you might find that your ideal customers like vivid, striking designs with lots of colours and bold fonts. Once you know what your target audience likes to see (and engage with) you can start to produce more eye-catching designs.
The next one relates to the device(s) your target audience uses to engage with content. This can have a massive impact on the design of content assets. For example, if you find your target audience use mobile phones to consume content, you need to ensure your content is designed and optimised for mobile devices.
Similarly, if your target audience use both their mobile and laptop, your designs and content need to be responsive so they work wherever, whenever. This is one thing many marketers overlook – too often do we see content assets (particularly infographics) that are too large or too small and therefore difficult to read on a mobile device.
Failure to recognise the above points will just make you look silly and demonstrate you have no real understanding of who you want to market to.
Remember those really old, multicoloured websites from 10 years ago? Your content assets just can’t look like that!
How should your designs look?
The most important aspect of design is how your designs look and feel. They need to be user-friendly, but what does that mean? Sure, there’s making sure it works on a device, but what about fonts, colours and highlighting important information?
Before a customer reads your content, good design will communicate to them first. It will guide users, highlighting important information and key areas.
This can be enhanced with the use of typography, increasing font size or creating pull out quotes will help reinforce the context, it can also help the customer digest large quantities of information in a much simpler way, especially if the content is complex.
It is also important to remember the importance of imagery and videos to help support content. Photos and videos are the most shared items on every platform. Take these statistics for example, according to Larry Kim, a prolific internet marketer and founder of WordStream and MobileMonkey:
Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.
People are 85%more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video
Posts with videos attract 3 times more links than text-only posts
Clearly visual content has a place in your content strategy, so why not invest time in creating more attractive assets?
How can you ensure the consistency of design?
Of course, an important part of designing content assets is consistency. Ensuring your visual branding is clearly and consistently applied across all communication channels and mediums will reinforce your brand/company identity, making it instantly recognisable from everything else out there.
As you continue to produce visual content in the same style and format, it helps to build trust (as your audience knows who you are and what they’re getting form you) and sentiment.
As for how you maintain consistency, you need brand guidelines. Brand guidelines are your company’s rules for logos, colours, messaging and content formats. They can sometimes contain your company’s history and mission statement – though these are increasingly included in ‘culture codes’.
(Are you already producing great visual content but need a content plan or strategy to help guide you? Check this out for more information)
To create a brand guideline, start by looking for inspiration – perhaps you saw another company with really cool colours and content formats. Use this to spark some ideas about how you want your company to be portrayed.
Once you have your inspiration (or at least an idea of how you want your content to look), define your essential elements, i.e. what’s important to your company when it comes to the look and feel of content assets. This could be:
After highlighting the essential elements, you then need to create guidelines for each individual element. For example, what’s your colour palette? How large should your logo be? What fonts do you want to use and what size? Do you prefer stock or non-stock imagery?
It’s up to you how you go about determining the above but doing the work in the first place will make it easier for your content creators to create content that catches the eye.
As well as having a guide, you need to bridge the gap between designers and writers. Writers often work in isolation, creating amazing written content, but then the designers have to try and work out how to structure it all.
At The B2B Marketing Lab we ensure designers and writers work in tandem, coming up with content formats and wireframes that accentuate the content and maximise the visual appeal. White space, segmented sections, pull-out quotes, bold headers and sub headers – this approach enables us to make content look and read great!
So, what are the benefits of high-quality designs?
Now that we've highlighted the importance of design, here are the benefits, in summary:
Think John Lewis. For the last 12 years John Lewis have been producing Christmas adverts and every year people get excited about them.
Now you might be thinking “but it’s just a Christmas advert” and whilst you’re not wrong it’s more about the association John Lewis have built with that particular time of year through the content they create. The idea is that when people think about Christmas – John Lewis is one of the first things that comes to mind.
As mentioned earlier, consistency is key to both memorability and brand building. If you’re producing high-quality content assets regularly – all of which use similar colours, formats and images – your company will be much more recognisable and stand out from the rest.
People will be much more likely to look at content that is aesthetically pleasing than content that isn’t. If you’re producing visual content of a low quality, it just won’t catch the eye of anyone online.
High-quality visual content will stand out and therefore drive more engagement. It’s your opportunity to show off your design capability and share great content.
Naturally, if you’re engaging more people via your content you’ll have more opportunities to convert them on your website.
An important thing to note, however, is that once you have people reading your content on your website, a smooth and pleasant user experience will ensure they move on to other relevant content.
You should look to include prominent and well-designed calls-to-action to direct readers of your content to relevant landing pages on your website. This will help you to increase conversions.
Ultimately, you can't overlook the importance of design and the role it plays in getting people to engage with your content. Design can take time but in the grand scheme of things it’s definitely worth it. Take the time to develop a brand guideline (if you haven’t already) and identify a style that represents your business. Use that style to create aesthetically pleasing content and watch how it helps elevate your company’s online visibility and engagement.
If you’re already producing really cool looking content but want to know more about writing content that generates leads, have a look at our eBook below!