Visual Disruption

How do you stand out visually and disrupt the marketplace?

Wendy Ruyle 10.1.2019

Disruption is a word that gets tossed around a lot in marketing these days. It’s almost up there with viral. Figuring out how to fit disruption into your marketing strategy is no easy task. But you can start by differentiating yourself using some of these visual tactics.

What is disruption?

At its core, disruption is causing a commotion to interrupt an event. In marketing that means finding new ways to provide a product or service. Making a change in the way you do business in order to get your customers to look at you instead of the other guy. Recent examples in our ever-changing world are streaming video or audio instead of TV and radio, food delivery services instead of restaurants or cooking, ride sharing apps instead of driving or cabs. These businesses found a way to interrupt the way people were consuming media, food, and transportation and provided alternatives.

Changing your whole business model may not be in the cards for your particular organization. But, you can take smaller risks and signal your competitive differences in how you approach your brand from a visual standpoint. How? Here are a few suggestions.

Deliver a color palette no one else is

Standing out means you have to be different from your competitors and you have to look different. Do an audit of your marketplace. What colors are they using? Black and white or vivid color? Bold and brash or subtle and sophisticated?

Look at the trends in your industry and do the opposite. You can stand out by being quiet when everyone else is loud. By being bright when everyone else is navy blue. Of course, your choice needs to be authentic to your brand, but it also needs to be unique.

Commission custom photography

We’ve all gotten so used to relying on stock photography. The quality and variety of images are much higher than they were 20 years ago. And the price is hard to beat. But the same images keep popping up. If you are using the same image as another business, your customers are going to be confused. You will not stand out.

Incorporate a bit of budget to do a custom photoshoot a couple of times a year. Capture your team in action, get headshots for new hires, and document your work for case studies. Establish a style that is custom to you but flexible for multiple uses. A bit of planning can make efficient use of your photographer’s time.

Use a unique typeface

Type is something that we take for granted. We don’t necessarily consciously think about typefaces when we are reading an ad or a website. But subconsciously, we notice a typeface that is not in the standard set loaded on every PC. Google Fonts has made incorporating good typography into your brand a lot easier. Open sourced font creation has given them a vast library of mostly high-quality faces that can be downloaded for free and embedded in your website.

Be sure to find a typeface (or a few) that matches your brand personality. Mix and match serif and sans serif type to create layers and richness in your designs.

Play with size

Using dramatic shifts in size within your layouts can help you stand out. There is a design philosophy based on the Japanese art of flower arranging called Ikebana. It’s all about the right hierarchy of each design element. You need one element that is dominant, one that is sub-dominant, and one that is subordinate.

Try pushing this philosophy to the limit. Make your headline huge. Dramatic changes in size can draw your viewer in and skillfully drive them along a path from one message to another.

Surprise and delight

Who doesn’t want their day made? Small visual elements can make a significant emotional impact on your customers. It could be something quirky that gets you a second look. Like a fun mascot illustration that taps into your customers’ mood. Make it a gif and they’ll share that love.

Consider adding an element of surprise or a hidden image. Loyal customers love to be in on an inside joke. And the longer they take to figure out the puzzle, the longer they are interacting with your brand. If you can make them laugh along the way those good feelings will stick with them even longer.

Changing your entire industry may not be possible, but you can change the way you are presenting your brand to your customers and that may be just the disruption you need.

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