Visual Communication

How Authentic Content Can Save Your Brand: Part 1

By Daniel Long - 5 min read

Some of the world's largest businesses have successfully experimented with campaign productions that take their visual cues from photo-journalism and documentary-style realism.

Has your business fallen into a classic advertising trap? By this, we refer to campaigns that serve up the same old visual content time after time. In fact, visual monotony is not only the enemy of good product marketing, but it can also render your advertising completely ineffective. Without a fresh creative awareness of how online audiences evolve, brands can become numb to visual innovation. It’s the visual equivalent of Blockbuster failing to see the disruptive effects of Netflix or Kodak failing to predict the rise of digital photography. While technical innovation matters - visual and creative innovation is just as important for the survival of a brand over the long-term.

In marketing, we call this a creative decline, as it marks the final stage of the campaign’s effectiveness in the life cycle of a product. It typically occurs when your audience has already tuned out from your promotional activities - because your campaign lacks the ability to cut through all the visual noise in highly competitive markets.

In the simplest of explanations, audiences will quickly tire of a business when they no longer feel fresh or innovative. It’s a bit like trying to sell ice cream in the middle of a frozen winter when your audience has already decided they are definately not interested - no matter how incredible the flavours or the shopfront might be. If you suspect your campaign has a ‘sameness’ problem, then it’s time to look at alternative creative strategies that actually work. We’ll take a closer look at some of these in Part 2 of this article series.

Woman with tousled hair against wall

Digital Marketing: When The Trend is Your Friend

So how do we solve this common marketing problem? Businesses have a lot to gain by thinking of advertising in terms of cycles. What’s hot yesterday is just as likely to hit as flat as a pancake today. A decent marketing team also needs be a strong creative team, taking the time to consider the latest trends and their potential impacts to ensure your next campaign arrives on-brand and ready to be loved by your customers. Think of it as visual empowerment.

Just recently, we launched our latest Visual Trends Report for 2020. It’s our annual snapshot of the most influential creative trends coming down the pipeline each year. It also provides industry-focused brand strategy that we believe can set your business up with a list of clearly-defined visual themes and ideas to inspire it at the start of the new decade. With ample data to be gained from analyzing each of the visual search terms used by our global business customers, we’ve uncovered an abundant supply of visual insights worth sharing.

As the old marketing phrase suggests, “When the trend is your friend”, your campaign will be better equipped to explore fresh visual themes that your audience will appreciate. Not all trends will apply obviously, so it helps to read up on different creative strategies that your product could benefit from. Timing also plays a part, and so does the quality of your images and videos - but a solid creative overview and vision statement should be among the first elements to consider at the start of your campaign planning.


Have a Genuine Conversation With Your Customers

While researching our Visual Trends Report , we reached out to well-known creatives in the advertising industry, including award-winning photographers who are at the top of their craft. One particular theme that kept popping up in our conversations with each of them was the idea that campaigns were starting to look increasingly ‘real’.

This emphasis on reality advertising is what we at EyeEm call “Produced Realism”. It’s based on a production style that aims to mimic street photography or photo-journalism. Brands should aim to capture real people and real subjects on-location for the strongest level of visual engagement.

How do you capture Produced Realism?

If you want to get a better visual idea of what’s likely to have the strongest creative impact on your brand, then social networks are an ideal place to guage your audience’s interest. It’s the ultimate form of researching brand personalization. Look to Instagram or EyeEm to see what photographers are up to globally and take note of the different styles as they evolve. We encourage busineses to take visual inspiration from multiple sources. The goal is to capture authentic snapshots and candid images using the same visual techniques that we see from contempoary photo-journalists and street photographers.

We implore brands to experiment with overexposed lighting, ample flash photography, increased image noise and a greater use of handheld framing. Within this trend, creatives need to work hard to finesse a technique that imitates the genuine feel of a spontaneous image - it should not feel forced or manufactured.


Why Authentic Content Matters

Authentic content has been described by some marketing experts as the difference between talking to a stranger or having a conversation with your best friend. While the contents of each conversation might be quite different, the communication still needs to come across as natural and authentic in order for your conversation to succeed.

Visual composition follows a similar creative strategy: source elements that best reflect your product’s USP (unique selling point) and communicate these brand values with your customers directly. Audiences want to be engaged, so its our job as marketing and advertising professionals to give them the type of creative stories they are asking for.

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But Wait, There’s Still More…

Still curious? In Part 2 of Why Authentic Content Can Save Your Brand, we take a deeper look at how some successful brands have nailed their campaign briefs and the simple steps your business can take to create more winning campaigns.

*Have you signed up our Visual Trends Report 2020 yet? Click here to download our 71-page report and get access to our top visual and creative strategies to help your brand innovate in 2020 and attract more customers.