Illustration and photography: Using visuals to enhance your brand

Learn the strengths of each medium, and how to use each to enhance an emotional connection.


Copywriter & Strategist

January 27, 2023

Humans are innately visual creatures. Research shows that we can process a visual scene in just 1/10th of a second - that’s about the same time as it takes you to blink. It’s therefore in our very nature to make snap judgements as we assess the scenes in front of us. Branding is no different.

As we look to stop people from scrolling past, finding the right visuals at the right time is paramount to our success. Today we’re taking a look at photography and illustration, understanding how they make us feel and how you can use each to strengthen your brand in a competitive market.

When you want to showcase the human aspects of your business, reach for the camera

Audiences are drawn to human stories, they want to connect with the brands they do business with and they want to feel like they are part of the story. Photography gives you the chance to share the characters and personalities that will resonate with your audience.

It’s a good idea to introduce who’s on your team and what they do. Maybe it’s Dan who runs the kayak tours? Or maybe it’s Sacha, your lead engineer. Remember - the colleagues that brighten your day will likely do the same for others!

Don’t forget your customers either. Nothing instils faith like a good testimonial.

When you want to simplify, reach for the pen

What do you do when photographs don’t say enough and words seem uninteresting?

Illustration gives us a great way to visualise lots of information quickly and should be used when you have products or experiences that would otherwise need wordy explanations.

Perhaps you’ll use illustrated characters to explain the process of renting an apartment? Or maybe you could showcase where you source your materials from on a hand-illustrated map?

Whatever the application, designers look to fun graphics and quirky drawings to keep the information palatable and the audience engaged.

When you want people to trust you, reach for the camera

Consumers are naturally curious, they want to know what they’re getting and who they’re getting it from. Photographs give a consumer that ‘what you see is what you get’ reassurance and instil trust in a way other mediums can’t.

They’re also the perfect tool to showcase the aesthetically pleasing. You could spend paragraphs describing the joy of a new culinary experience or the serenity of a seaside cocktail at your hotel, but it’s probably easier to let the images speak for themselves. In this case, the maxim stands true: a picture really does paint a thousand words

When you want your imagination to run free, reach for the pen.

The greatest strength of a blank page is its possibilities.

Not bound by reality or by the logistics of photography, illustrators have the scope to bring your wildest ideas to life. However abstract or however ambitious, a good illustrator can capture more in a drawing than a photographer can with a photograph. With the ability to have multiple ideas in one image, they can craft characters and icons that draw an audience into your world.

Done well and it’s approachable to all ages, inclusive and sparks imagination. Have you ever thought that your holiday cottage feels like it’s on its own island in the middle of the ocean? With illustration, it could be.

Learn from Etsy

No one exemplifies a thought-out, clever use of illustration and photography like Etsy. Head over to their website and look at how they use each medium.

A creative and fun approach to illustrations is used to take you through what the platform does. It’s approachable, inclusive and easy to follow.

But it’s the people and products that drive the platform - and Etsy knows it. Photographs are used to showcase real people and actual products, creating connections with the nearly forty million active buyers.

We’re moving through an increasingly visual world. Our screens are more immersive and our brains are becoming hard-wired to seek out the visual aspects. To be truly unique, we need to keep in mind how different visuals make us feel and when to use them.

If you need some guidance, feel free to reach out. We’d love to help.