The quickest way to make a connection with people is through relatablity. Friendships are started from that simple ‘oh me too’. Finding common interests, experiences and memories. So when it comes to branding and trying to create a connection with your audience and making them feel like your friend, means finding those common grounds, so they feel they can relate to you. Being relatable builds trust and likability. It makes marketing and business feel less like a transaction and sales. You want your audience to feel like ‘she really get’s me’. You want to create an environment that feels warm and friendly, where you can laugh together and share.
You Can Make Your Brand Relatable through Visuals.
Visuals are a powerful tool to communicate and evoke emotions. So strategically using visuals in your branding can create relatability. This can be using photos and images, colour, design style, icons, gifs and more.
You can make your core brand elements connect and feel relatable to your audience, and then create marketing and social media posts that add an extra layer to that relatability and add story to your brand. People will more be more drawn to a brand they feel they can relate to, then one that is super perfect and polished and feels totally unrelatable. This is why real, raw, imperfect, playful and authentic is beautiful. It makes you human, it makes you real and it makes people feel more connected to you.
This doesn’t mean you can be sloppy and unprofessional and just throw up any old thing. It’s about being a little more real and letting go of the odd mistake, or even just being upfront and having a laugh about it. For example, I have seen people post lovely pictures of themselves on Instagram, but their nail polish is a bit chipped, and so they point it out, and say hey I have been so busy, might be time to re-do my nails, or ‘mind the chipped nail polish’. They have put up quality work, but let go of the perfection and just been real about how sometimes we just don’t have time to keep our nails perfect all the time. And their audience related to that, because they to have that struggle.
Use Images Familiar to Your Audience
Just like the nail polish example, using images that your audience find relatable and familiar, will create a connection with you. This can be as simple as images that depict familiar scenes, places, objects, actions or more complex ideas where their is a story behind the image that your audience is familiar with and can relate to. You want them to think things like ‘I do that to’, ‘looks like my house’ ‘I know how that feels’ ‘sounds just like me’.
This also means being careful not to use images with unfamiliar things, that your audience can’t relate to. For example using an image on your website of vintage tools of the trade, that only people in your industry might recognize if they have been around a while or just know the industries history well, but your client has never seen before and doesn’t know what it is, will not help them connect to you. You might think it is fun and clever and that you like it, but if it leaves your audience confused or saying to themselves ‘what is that?’ then you will isolate them and make them feel they are not part of your world.
You also need to be careful about things you reference, such as pop culture, tv shows, movies, music, books, events etc. If your audience isn’t into those things, they will find it harder to relate to what you are saying and showing. So take time to get to know your audience and consider what is relatable, and what is better kept to your personal life.
Don’t Use Anything too Obscure or Only has Meaning to You
Similar to what I mentioned with the familiar and unfamiliar images, be careful not to use images, graphics, or visual references to things your audience won’t understand. Obviously not everyone in your audience is identical, so there will always be a few people who are not familiar with something, but the aim is for the majority to understand, and those who don’t, to at least get the drift of your message.
So be careful of personal jokes, obscure media references and things with deep meanings that would only make sense with research. While research and giving things deeper meaning is great, going too deep and obscure, will only confuse people. If the message isn’t obvious, then it won’t communicate anything, it’ll end up only meaning something to you and no one else. If you have to explain it to people all the time, then it is likely that it is too obscure.
Connect with Colour
Colour is a powerful communication tool as it evokes emotions and feelings, plus everyone has colours they love and colours they hate. So research your audience and not only consider what the colours you use communicate, but also if your audience connect with them and love them. If your audience loves feminine fun happy colours like pinks, yellow and bright blue, then using muted tones and all neutrals will not relate well with them. However if your audience loves earthy muted tones and things that look calm and natural, then using bright colour would turn them off.
Don’t get too ‘Arty Farty’
Sometimes as creatives it is fun to play around, get really creative and create really arty cool things. While it can be fun sometimes, if your audience don’t get it or the message isn’t clear, then they won’t relate to it. Getting all abstract and cool, should be kept for artist purposes and not for critical communication branding pieces. Remember that you are trying to get a message across and connect with people. So know when it is appropriate to go nuts and when it is best to keep things simple and clear.
The design needs to be on your audiences level, create a style that is the kind of thing that they are into. Think about their personal style, what they have in their homes and things they buy. What aesthetic styles appeal to them.
Just be Friendly
Make your branding and visuals feel warm and inviting, easy going and friendly. If things feel cold, lacking character and personality then it won’t connect with anyone. The way to set yourself apart, is by infusing who you are into your visuals. Let your audience get to know you, add little quirks, character and personality to what you do. Make your brand feel welcoming. I think people often think that if they want their brand to feel high end or exclusive, that it needs to be super slick and professional. But you can create something that feels both inviting and luxury. It’s be adding that warmth and character to it. it could be a little quirk, something clever or even cheeky or funny.
Get to Know Your Audience
Outside of what your business does and offers, get to know what your audience is into. This can help you come up with fun ideas to create relatable visuals. Are they fans of ice-cream? Do they eat zoodles? Do they always wear sun glasses? Do they own a lot of shoes? Do they shop at target? Do they love to read? Are they coffee addicts?
These simple little things that your audience is into are great starting points for ideas. How many coffee related posts do you see on social media from people who don’t sell coffee or own a coffee shop? It’s about that relatability. So get creative and get to know the lives and habits of your audience.
Share Behind the Scenes and Real Life
Everyone loves a peak behind the curtains, and seeing reality. While professional photo shoots are great for your brand, it also helps to share some of the real life unedited stuff too. Social media is often the best platform for this. Let people get to know you better so they can relate to you more. The more of the real life stuff you share the more people will feel they know you and it will create a much stronger connection. Think about sharing daily life, work life, what is on your desk, office tour, things that happen, what you are working on, places you go, events you attend, thoughts you have as you go about your day, something that arrived in the mail, your outfit or what you are eating.
Use Humor and Funny Gifs.
Nothing connect people more then humor. Give your audience a laugh from time to time. Humor is a shared experience, so posting something funny that your audience really gets, will create that deeper connection, as it’ll feel like you are laughing together. It makes things a little more light hearted and down to earth. It also makes your visual content highly sharable, as your audience will likely want to continue sharing that experience and show others. You can create your own graphics, or Meme’s or use gifs. If you are using things like gifs or memes, be sure that the characters or clips used are something your audience can relate to and are familiar with.
Get nostalgic. Make them Reminisce.
Finally, send your audience down memory lane. People love seeing things that make them say ‘oh I remember them’. With technology moving at such a rapid pace, the current generation is said to be one of the most nostalgic. When your world is changing at such a fast pace, things you had and did only a few years ago can feel like an old distant memory. Memories evoke emotions and make us reminisce about what things used to be like and how we felt back then. It is a shared experience, as your your audience will be excited that ‘you remember that too’. So throw in the odd throwbacks and flashbacks that relate to you, your business and your audience.
Raise Your Visibility with Relatable Visuals
Using relatable visuals makes your brand marketing and media more sharable. The kind of content that tends to go viral and get re-shared is things people can relate to and evokes an emotional response and they want to share that experience with others. This could be humor, nostalgia, pulling at the heartstrings, a ‘that’s so you’, motivational, sweet, wise or clever. It’s this kind of content that can grow your brand’s visibility.
So start brainstorming and think of ways you can create relatable visuals for your brand.