I'm a visual content creationist. If somebody didn't create it, then it's probably not worth looking at. Take Pinterest as an example. Companies can choose to post all sorts of great visual material that they like, but if they don't have a backbone full of unique content, then how will they stand out as unique? Nobody is interested in seeing the same old stock photos or generic infographics. If you make something new and innovative, then people will start paying attention.
So, how can you begin creating unique content?
My answer: Look to the world of art. In visual medium art classes nowadays, professors often teach Internet storytelling, YouTube optimization, and the way film and photography often borrow from the past to present something completely new. Many artists are acutely aware of how the Internet has changed their medium, and they've found new artistic outlets within that change. Marketers can learn a lot from their philosophy. Too often, we just think of visual content marketing as visual branding. We want everything to look the same, so that people know who we are. However, if your branding gets in the way of producing marketing content that portrays the value of your unique service or product, that's a problem.
Using artistic philosophies doesn't mean that you have to build everything from scratch. Since the 1970s, the world has fallen in love with found footage, and now, more than ever, it's a highly acceptable way to create something new. For instance, check out this video ad from Wonderful Pistachios. It utilizes a found concept from a YouTube viral video, The Honey Badger, then uses it for a totally different brand. Of course, this is an example of outright advertising.
There are dozens of ways to borrow old images for new purposes in more subtle ways:
Envision an infographic that makes use of a skyscraper in your city
What if you created an eBook that explains your business as a meal?
Try blogging about a new product as if it's a prize on a game show
Of course, I realize that some of these ideas my not be appropriate for your industry or the customer base that you're trying to approach. That's why it's your job to find out what is appropriate for who you're selling to and how far you can stretch your brand.
Last month, Weidert Group produced a new content resource that explains how to navigate the new era of search engine optimization (SEO). What did we call it? Well, I'll tell you what. It wasn't Weidert's Manual to SEO. That's too boring and there's nothing visually grabbing about it at all. Instead, we went with a theme that is loaded with visual appeal and reflects how we think we can help our clients.
To start, we looked at how our clients feel about SEO. Immediately, we realized that often, clients are so overwhelmed by SEO that they feel like they can't keep their heads above the water. So, we turned their emotions into a concept — The SEO Survival Guide.
So, how did we create our SEO Survival Guide?
The Answer: By building original imagery that borrows from older themes.
Here's a step-by-step process:
STEP 1: Do a Google search. By searching, you're going to find all the borrowable imagery in the world. Strive to find as much variety as possible, so search for unique ideas, popular memes and great visuals. We searched for "survival guide." Below, you can see one of the images we really liked.
STEP 2: Identify the images you'll need to portray your message. Here's where having a strong marketer on your side is really essential. You can have as much visual imagery as you want, but if you don't know what you want to promote, it won't do you any good. So, here's what we found essential to tell our prospective clients:
Good keyword research
Consistent content creation
A strong social media presence
Then for each of these four, we had to create good images that we could integrate into our overall "survival guide" theme. Of course, we could have used stock images like these:
But honestly, when are generic icons ever smart? If you're trying to brand yourself as unique, make things that are unique without sacrificing symbolic integrity (i.e. what the icons are supposed to mean). So, here's where the third step comes into play.
STEP 3: Build an overall visual appeal by creating small details that are visually meaningful and unique to your brand. It's on this step where we unify our found graphic with images that have particular meaning to what our content piece is trying to say.
To do this, you want a graphic designer who is competent in Adobe Creative Suite or some other set of graphic design tools. We used Photoshop and Illustrator to create the visuals in our Survival Guide.
If you use existing imagery, then change them to your needs, you'll probably end up with something like this: a branded version of an existing graphic that says "Yes, I'm a survival guide, but I'm created by Weidert Group, and I'm highly informational. Trust me."
Included on the right is the final product.
If you're interested in checking out the full visual content within the book and seeing how Weidert optimizes visual content to help your SEO, click below to download the full eBook. Our SEO Survival Guide isn't just for reading, it's for viewing too!