Using Illustrations in Marketing

By Lauren Rogers-Martin / 17 Feb 2021

Fine artist Lauren Rogers-Martin shares how illustrations can help captivate your audience

If you are trying to grow your aesthetic business, then it’s important to stand out from the crowd. You likely use various types of imagery in your marketing to achieve this such as photos and videos. But are you using illustrations? Incorporating illustrations in your marketing could improve your current or future patients’ response of a new treatment or provide learning material for patient education.

Why illustration?

Throughout history, illustrations have been used as narrative images to tell stories. When the cave man wanted to share what he had for dinner he grabbed his stick and illustrated it. This simple method of storytelling has been used throughout the ages and has been integrated into our everyday lives in ways that you may not have noticed; yet has had a subliminal effect on our consumer experience.

Remember the animated Red Bull adverts from the early 2000s that featured loosely drawn characters with big noses who grew wings and flew away after drinking the product? Of course you do. The style and humour were unmistakable and became essential to the Red Bull message in many ways. Those goofy ads were a precursor to a rapidly growing practice in today’s world of branding. Other big companies such as PayPal, Dropbox, Apple, not forgetting many fashion brands, also use illustrations effectively.

Illustration is all about problem solving and telling a story, and isn’t that exactly what your aesthetic company is aiming to do? Solving your patients’ problems and then sharing their story and experience to potential new customers? I have seen a massive spike of new customers in the aesthetic field that are commissioning illustrations to do exactly that; tell patients their brand story. So, what are the benefits of using illustrations for your marketing? Let me break it down for you.

When it comes to stock art or photography that everyone has access to, there’s no guarantee of how many other brands are using the same imagery as you. Your brand’s story is unique and deserves to be communicated in an authentic way rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Creating bespoke illustrations and utilising them in your marketing will set you apart from your competitors and visually shows your patients that you are different.

Many clinics use before and after images to market themselves, and although they may show great results they are not always visually appealing. Using stock images of models looking fresh or rejuvenated might be more pleasing, but again could throw away your individuality and could also be deemed as misleading if the model isn’t an actual patient of your services. Illustrations can have the ability to capture nuance through gesture and transform the graphic representation of the face or body into a softer and more playful object of desire, with less chances of being misleading or offensive, as well as being more pleasing to the eye. This is not to say that there is no place for photography in your marketing. In fact, I believe the best campaigns for aesthetics include a happy medium of both high-quality photos and videos, as well as relevant illustrations that align to the specific brand. Illustrations can also be found via stock image websites online, however to really set yourself apart from the crowd you should consider bespoke illustrations. Unless you are extremely creative, talented and have the time to create your own illustrations, working with an illustrator can be a good option to create bespoke imagery for your marketing. Here I outline the things you need to know before embarking on this journey.

Finding the perfect illustrator

Finding illustrators online via a simple web search is easy and Instagram is especially great for this. However, finding the right illustrator suited for your brand may be more difficult. I suggest looking at the illustrator’s portfolio and Instagram posts to discover their individual style. Reach out to them to provide you with examples of similar work and explain what you require to determine if they feel the project is right for them. Once you find the right illustrator, they will be able to thoughtfully and strategically create designs that will have a unique association with your brand and goals. This will help your business stand out from the crowd whilst also creating brand awareness, familiarity and earning trust through distinct custom artwork.

Write a detailed brief

Any kind of commissioned work usually involves a brief, so your illustrator has clear instructions of what to create. Remember, they can’t just go and create illustrations that will automatically be perfect for your individual brand! They need your input to understand your desires and how their work can align to your brand. It’s a collaborative experience where you both hold a wealth of opportunity for the ultimate outcome of the illustrations, so get creative. Make sure your brief is detailed and includes what you would like to achieve and, most importantly, what your brand message is. Most illustrators will supply you with their own brief template. To help you write your brief, you may want to do some brainstorming. I usually advise my clients to think of where they believe their brand sits in the market. What are your values? What is your agenda? What are your USPs? Who is your target patient? Now share your perspective with people, get feedback and if you create a story you believe in, your audience and potential patient will definitely respond. Pull this story together in well thought-out arrangement of images, materials, text and colours. This is called a mood board and is often used in the creative world to evoke a particular style or concept. Keep your mood board simple but effective and attach this to your brief. Include some rules and guidelines within the brief. For example, streamline your colour palette and fonts, or even mention that pictures should incorporate different ethnic diversities, genders, ages and sizes. I believe this approach is the best way to first present your ideas to your chosen illustrator as, if they don’t have all of this information in the brief, they will need to constantly ask you further questions which can slow the process.

Prices

This is a difficult subject; prices vary from project to project. However, the old saying ‘you get what you paid for’ can also be applied when commissioning any artist. You should always have a conversation with your illustrator and agree upon costs at the beginning. Some illustrators work on an hourly rate or per project and prices will be determined on the brief/project size. It’s important to understand that illustration is complex and requires a great deal of problem solving. Illustrators pour hours of research, concept ideation, sketching, and more, into their work to ensure you get the best possible visual solution to fit your business needs. Therefore, to help to reduce your costs, I recommend you do most of the research yourself and present this clearly to your illustrator, saving them time and you money, because it is likely that you will be charged for additional edits.

Legal and copyright considerations

Hiring an illustrator for commissioned work means you’ll be purchasing artwork that you can own exclusive copyright to. However, note that this is not automatic and is where many go wrong. For freelance artists, the copyright remains with the artist, and for illustration companies, the copyright would remain with the company.1,2 That is unless the artist or illustrator signs over the copyright for the artwork to the person or company who commissioned it. It is paramount that you have this conversation with your illustrator at the start of commissioning if you wish to own the copyrights to your images. It is important to own the copyrights to any illustration that you want the full rights to so that no other company inside or outside of your industry can use it. It’s normally a very simple contract and your illustrator should be able to guide you of the process. For further information on copyrights and trademarks, you can seek guidance from firms such as Trade Mark Wizards.

How to use your illustrations

Once you have your illustrations ready, share them! You can strategically place them on your social media feeds, add them to your website, incorporate them within your hard copy marketing materials like price list, leaflets or business cards and more. You can even use them for an advert in a print publication. I have seen my illustrations used for so many things, from Instagram highlights covers, gift and loyalty cards, and YouTube banners, to large window coverings in clinics and animated videos and gifs. The limits are quite literally endless. I do recommend that you regularly review your illustrations to ensure they stay on trend and are fresh. You also don’t want to be overly repetitious, so you should look to get new images and designs as needed.

Start standing out through illustration

Illustration can be a powerful tool to distinguish your brand from competitors and, at the same time, create a strong connection with your audience. Hopefully, this article has helped to shed some light on how you can take advantage of this asset to help elevate your aesthetics company and successfully create a brand with originality and personality.

Disclosure: Lauren Rogers-Martin creates illustrations for Harley Cosmetic London and SEV Laser Aesthetics.

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