Marketing and branding is an exercise in futile frustration. The results are dictated by the amount of cash that is invested in strategies that are best summed up in “spray and pray.” Whether it’s SEO, ads, content marketing, a website redesign, or social media marketing strategy, for most, the bottom line depends on getting so much volume of exposure that it ultimately makes a profit.
The problem is that most business owners get too tired of spending money on something long before they reach the volume of traffic needed for the strategy to be successful. Then another professional comes along and offers some compelling data as to why another channel will solve your problem. More money is invested, the result remains the same and goes to the next.
The channel, platform or strategy that is implemented to grow an audience and attract potential customers has little to do with achieving the desired result. They can all work, but they all lack a key element that makes them work: art direction. Most websites, ad campaigns, and branding efforts don’t pay attention to art direction and thus struggle to make a profit.
Art direction creates a specific emotional response by intentionally coordinating all content, from graphics to video to text, into one broad theme. It means that instead of putting things together that “look” or “sound” good enough and hope they work, it’s about first seeing what emotional response we want a person to have and making decisions that coordinate everything to work toward that goal.
People are driven by emotion. Even the most logic-oriented person makes decisions based on how they feel. The difference is that the logical person presents technical reasons to justify her decision.
Start with how someone should feel, not the end result you want.
We’re so engrossed in trying to land a prospect or customer that we don’t even begin with the basics: capturing someone’s attention and taking them to action. To grab attention in a world with an endless stream of content, you need to focus on how you want someone to feel when they view your content.
Do you want them to feel empowered? Inspired? Afraid? Comforted? Glad? Emotion creates connection and is a powerful psychological motivator. To get where you want to go, you need to have an idea of what emotions you want to elicit from your audience.
Think about how your customers feel before and after doing business with you.
To establish an overall approach, we need to create a brand “essence” rooted in the emotions people experience when doing business with you. The easiest way to find them is to look back at your own sales calls and customer experiences and think about what their emotions are before they do business with you and how they feel afterward.
Knowing what their feelings are that motivated them to seek you out in the first place gives you valuable insight into the emotional feeling you need to evoke in your marketing. Emphasizing how they will feel later allows you to create a “plot” that takes them from where they are now to where they want to be.
Coordinate content to reinforce the emotions you want to elicit.
Once you know the emotions you want to elicit, it’s all about coordinating graphics, images, video, audio, and text to reinforce and support the elicitation of those emotions. Instead of putting things that “look great” for the sake of being great, you’re approaching your website, ad campaigns, and marketing with intent under an art direction that’s met by your content.
Then, with your art-led materials, it’s all about implementing them into the right channels. This is where you decide how you want to approach reaching people: SEO, ads, social media, etc. Except the difference is that you have much more powerful and compelling content to really connect with people instead of bombarding them with more boring reasons to “buy now”.