People today want to feel a connection to the brands they buy from. Maybe not every single purchase. But the ones they become loyal to, engage with and share with other people. These are the ones they feel connected with. The brands they love, rave about, buy from regularly, engage with their social media and share with friends and family they think could also benefit or would love what they offer.
It is also just human nature that we want to feel a deeper connection with others. We want to feel seen and heard, we want to feel understood and cared for. So when we find a brand that gets us, talks to us on our level and uses our everyday language and makes us feel seen and heard. We gravitate to it. We feel more connected.
There are a lot of ways to build that connection in your own brand. Including showing your face, how you speak, your copy, and your products. You can also build this connection in subtle ways using visuals. Both in your brand identity and the graphics you put out.
Design communicates a message, using psychology. This means we can use design to communicate to our audience in a way that makes them feel more connected. It helps you build loyal fans.
Know Your Audience First
Before you can create designs that connect with your audience, you have to get clear on who they are. You need to know them on a deep level, just like a close friend. If you want them to feel just as connected to your brand as to a friend, you first need to get to know them on that level.
First, define who they are. Start with the simple demographics, such as age, gender, lifestyle etc. Then dig deeper and get more specific. Choose one person. This could be a past or existing customer/client, or you can make one up based on who you want to attract.
It may seem crazy to only focus on one person, but when you can picture and speak to one person, your communication, both words and visuals will feel more intimate and one on one. This is because you created it as if it was speaking just to one person. That’s what creates a deep connection. It makes people feel seen and heard.
Once you have defined who that person is, and have a clear picture of them in your mind, the next step is to get clear on what they want. What are their deep desires, concerns and worries. What are they struggling with that you can offer help with. What are their aspiration and dreams? What hurdles are getting in the way from them getting what they want? How are they feeling before they find you and how will they feel once they discover you and what you have to offer them?
Knowing these things will really help you create visual messaging that resonates and makes them feel seen and heard and therefore more connected with your brand.
Lastly, you want to define exactly how you can help them. You don’t want to be vague about this. Get really clear on what it is you offer and exactly how that helps that person. Does it change how they feel, does it inspire an action, does it solve a problem, does it spark and emotion, does it give them a sense of identity or help them work toward a goal or solidify their values.
Dig deep on just what it does for them both physically and emotionally. If you have a product or service that doesn’t offer an obvious transformation, you just need to think more deeply about the reason why someone would want what you offer and how it impacts their life and emotions. Remember it doesn’t have to be big and life-changing. Little things still spark emotions and can make small impacts on our lives.
What emotions do you want to evoke?
Emotions make people feel connected. It connects us on a more intimate level, as we attach a feeling to something, rather than seeing it indifferently. So the stronger the emotions you can evoke in people when they come into contact with your brand the more they will feel connected to it.
So you need to be asking yourself, what do I want them to feel when…
- They first come across my brand?
- As they interact with my brand?
- When they use my product or service?
- As they interact with me and my team, at all touch points (think initial contact, working together, support, customer service etc)
Once you have a clear idea on what you want them to feel, then you also need to consider what action you want to inspire. Do you want to make your audience feel empowered? Take the first step? Get organised? Feel confident? Take a stand? Give something a go? Try something out? Start a new routine? Challenge themselves?
Really think about what that base first action is that you are trying to inspire in your audience. What do you want them to start doing?
Remember that everything inspires some sort of base action.
- If you sell cards, you want them to start writing and sending more cards. Or maybe you want them to up their gift wrapping, and inspire them to create the most gorgeous wrapped presents with decadent cards.
- If you sell face cream, you want them to start a skin care routine and get in the habit of caring for their skin
- if you sell a recipe book, you want them to start cooking at home more, perhaps you also want them to start becoming more conscious about what they eat.
- If you sell art, you want them to start filling their homes with things that inspire them and bring them joy.
Knowing the emotions you want to evoke and the actions you want to inspire in them, it then becomes so much easier to create compelling visual communication.
How do you express and evoke emotions with visuals?
You can evoke emotions with the use of colour, layout, space, typography, images and graphics.
There are many ways you can do this, and as you select and use each design element, you should keep in the back of your mind that message you are trying to get across. Here are a few things to consider;
- Study colour psychology. Select brand colours based on the emotions that they evoke. Keeping in mind how you want your audience to feel and the kind of action you want to inspire.
- Choose fonts based on how you want your audience to feel. What them to feel confident and classy? Use beautiful serif fonts. Want them to feel professional and intelligent? Use traditional serifs. Want them to feel calm and relaxed? Use thin san-serifs and gentle cursives. Think carefully about the message your font choices are sending and if that aligns with the message you want to get across.
- Keep in mind the feeling you are trying to create when designing layouts and your use of spacing. Do you want it to feel fast-paced and exciting, or do you want it to feel calm and controlled? Design layouts that create the right mood.
- Choose your photography and stock images to set the mood and evoke the right emotions. If you are unsure, show the image to someone and ask them how it makes them feel. They may say things you didn’t expect, which can give you insight into the message you are putting across.
- With any other graphics you use, such as icons, illustrations, patterns and shapes, think about how it leads the eye, the energy it creates and the feelings it evokes.
Share Your Personality
People want to connect with real people. Much like the days when you knew the local grocer. We love it when the barista remembers our name and order. We appreciate it when we open an online purchase and find a little hand written thank you card inside. We like to follow people we admire and are inspired by online.
We crave personal interaction. We love to feel seen and heard. We like to build trust by seeing a face, and seeing a persons personality shine through. We want to know who we are dealing with and handing our money over to. Anyone can be anyone online, and we are wary. We want to get to know people, and build trust.
We also want to feel a connection. Two people could be selling the same thing with the same message, but some people will resonate with one personality, and some with another.
This is why it is so important to share your personality in your branding. That way you can create a deeper connection with your audience. It will build up trust, loyalty and connection.
How to Share Your Personality through Design
When it comes to sharing your personality through your graphics, you need to go back to who your audience is again, and look at what you have in common with your audience.
While you may want to share other little quirks and interesting things about yourself, the key is focusing on the things you have in common. The quirks are the fun things to throw in, but just like building a friendship, you first find what you have in common.
Then you can add some of your personality into your visuals. It may be colours that reflect your personality. It could be graphics that reflect your style. Use photos of yourself that let your own personality shine through. Use your own handwriting or illustrations. Create graphics with common phrases or sayings you are known to say a lot.
List out elements of your personality and character that your audience can relate to, and then brainstorm ways you can reflect that in your design. Just simple adjectives can spark ideas.
Let YOU shine through. Don’t create designs based on industry standard, and what seems normal and well received. The brands that really stand out from the crowd and grow an audience that feels really connected to it and loyal, are the ones that are willing to stand out, be different and be themselves. Don’t try to replicate what works. Show your own personality and style and attract the people that really want.
Why Empathy Matters
As I said, people want to feel heard. So show your audience you understand their struggles and desires. Really get to know what they are struggling with and what their fears are. What holds them back? What do they need to overcome? What are they tired of? Then what is their dream solution? What do they desire deep down? By really understanding these things you can show empathy toward your audience.
You really understand what they are dealing with and where they are coming from, and what they really want. You can set your communication at a level of understanding and empathy, rather than looking down at them telling them what to do.
You can paint a picture, of how they feel and what they are dealing with, and shine light on ways to overcome it. It’s that ‘me too’ factor. ‘I get you.’ ‘I know what it is like.’ ‘We have all been there’. This not only makes them feel more connected to you but also builds trust. They know that you are genuine in your desire to help, and you really understand. They want to know you are in this with them. You have found a way and can show them.
Customers want to know that you get them. So show them you do. It could be images showing everyday life and the things you deal with. It could be sharing a behind-the-scenes, or mistakes, or your process. It can be visually showing your own transformation.
It is also about making your graphics on their level and relatable, and not trying to be too clever, abstract or obscure. Don’t isolate your audience. Be warm, inviting, relatable, understanding and real.
Show compassion. Show them it is ok, and they are normal. But also don’t insult their intelligence. Make your graphics clear and easy to understand, but you can also assume that your audience will get certain things, and they don’t need to be over-explained.
Finally, know what you stand for and your brand values. These things build community. It gives your audience common ground with you. Don’t be afraid of putting some people off and trying to please everyone. Having and sharing strong values means you attract more of the right people and they feel a deeper connection to your brand. Rather than being a wishy-washy brand, you stand firm in Your point of view and stay consistent with it in all aspects of your branding.
Design and create a brand that connects, and communicates on a deeper level.
Let me know how you use visuals to connect with your audience.