While the vast majority of work associated with public relations is content-driven, don’t underestimate the importance of visuals. For someone to feel an emotional connection with a business, it takes more than text – though that is certainly important, as a company’s voice, or personality, should be consistent throughout all materials, and the verbiage should provide information and value to the reader. But visuals help tie together a company’s brand, and should be informed by the company’s aesthetic.
First, let’s define the word “aesthetic” because, recently, it’s become a buzzword misused in place of “inspiration,” “muse” or “something I like.” As Dictionary.com puts it, aesthetic is “the philosophical theory or set of principles governing the idea of beauty at a given time and place.” So basically, we’re talking about all of the visual nuances of company materials and how they work together both creatively and uniformly to mold an overall enticing aesthetic.
A logo is one of the most elementary, yet vital, pieces of a company’s aesthetic. It represents the sole visual with which you will be consistently associated and should be treated with such importance.
A logo shouldn’t just be a purposeless icon; it should organically reflect the company’s goals and personality. For example, at the Bradford Group, our logo at first glance is a B (clearly for Bradford), but this B is formed out of the number three with three triangle bullet points at the ends. Our company centers around three core values: (1) Hire smart people, (2) Be an active marketing partner and (3) Generate measurable results. In this way, our logo not only effectively resonates with the company name, but also uniquely visually manifests our company principles.
When a visitor enters your website, the first impression is invaluable. In fact, 55% percent of visitors spend less than 15 seconds actively viewing a webpage, according to TIME Magazine. Therefore, your homepage should instantly engage, but remain clean and easy to navigate at the same time.
Consider your audience. As a business, you want to come across as professional and efficient. This means avoiding overused free templates or any animations that may immediately deter or appear amateurish.
When delving into elements of design, I strongly recommend creating a company style guide. Beginning with a look at the logo, decide on components such as fonts, font sizes, main colors, accent colors (listed by specific RGB or CMYK code), etc. and use these as guidelines throughout all visual media produced. This will make your website look immeasurably more professional and put together.
Along with using a style guide for your website, these design principles should also carry over to your company’s social media platforms. This way, each post and graphic produced is distinctly associated with each other, as well as with the brand or company.
Another key component to a well-designed social media presence is high-quality photos. There is nothing worse than seeing a well-written website or regularly updated social media platform with photos on it that look like someone was running with a flip phone. It just screams unprofessional and unresourceful and is highly unlikely to be anything but detrimental to your overall aesthetic.
When social media platforms have a unified visual flow, whether that means color schemes on Instagram or company hashtags on Twitter, it speaks wonders about the unity of the company’s brand image.
As a best practice, all members of the company should be fluent in the style guide and design principles, even if it is not directly relevant to their role. If someone has to make a graphic last minute, even if they typically do not handle this responsibility, they should know exactly where to look to find the specific permissible colors and fonts to combine to create content that coordinates with all other visual materials.
I hope these tips allow you to ace your company’s aesthetic, and to create and maintain a well-formulated, unified presence across all visual platforms.