Imagery is essential in your marketing communications; it can make a notable first impression and influence the perception of your brand. While photography is one of the most commonly used types of imagery, illustration has many benefits, too, and should be considered in some cases.
Your goal is to create a unique and memorable personality for your brand, and illustration can achieve that. Like your brand’s fingerprint, a very distinct illustration style can become instantly recognizable. With an endlessly broad variety of illustration styles to choose from, it’s easy to create a unique and cohesive look with illustration. Furthermore, illustration is used less frequently in advertising and tends to stand out more for that reason.
Some examples of iconic and memorable illustration use. Left to right: Apple Computer, Coca-Cola, Shepard Fairey
Illustrations are also great for representing abstract ideas and concepts. They offer the opportunity to create a visual metaphor more effectively than a photo. A less literal approach can engage the viewer’s mind in clever ways.
Some examples of conceptual illustration. Left to right: Davide Bonazzi, Brian Stauffer, John Holcroft
Compared to photographs, illustrations can convey a broader range of tone or mood – from somber to silly. Extreme ends of the color spectrum, unrealistic proportions, and surreal elements might look out of place in photographs. However, these characteristics are right at home in illustration and can serve to enhance the message. Illustrations allow us to suspend our disbelief.
Some examples of illustrations that convey mood. Left to right: Daniel Stolle, Coca-Cola / Office, Joyce Fan
While photography may be important if you are advertising a physical product, illustration can be useful to represent an intangible one, such as cell phone service, computer software, or Wi-Fi. Mascots, which are used to represent many brands, often employ illustration.
Some examples of mascot illustrations. Left to right: Planter’s, Michelin, Kellogg’s
Whether you use illustration, photography, or a blend of the two, the imagery you and your marketing team use can be a key element in your brand’s success.