Effective Design Doesn’t Happen Without Talent
I can say with full confidence that every list ever posted promising content tips for improving your social media message, including blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, will include a requirement for “great visuals”. This post is typical, recognizing the need without acknowledging the talent required to produce art that motivates.
It’s not a heavy lift to reach that fundamental conclusion. It’s the how that usually ends up badly, as simple lip-service from the aesthetically challenged on what constitutes professional graphic design begins from a standpoint of basic ignorance of the subject.
Real guidance on achieving that lofty goal gets murky real fast. There’s very seldom a follow-up discussion on how compelling art is actually created, or how to make the subjective design judgements that are the essential DNA of an art or creative director’s job description.
One good place to start is with an appreciation for the differences between an illustrator and a designer. These are not interchangeable, even though they often overlap, and expertise in one area is no guarantee that talent carries over to the other.
It’s as if those great visuals so easily referenced as the mother’s milk of social media marketing are created with the wave of an intern’s magic kittens and string GIF wand, or by HR invoking a binding PNG spell, aided and abetted by Word’s draw extension.
The reality? Effective art isn’t an off-the-shelf commodity. It’s specialized talent that knows there’s never, ever a time to use Comic Sans if the goal is to be taken seriously. Or that Bevel and Emboss with Texture, added to a logotype of sorts sourced from an obscure MS Office font, doesn’t so much sing gloriously about brand originality as it cries out in all to painfully obvious embarrassment to everyone about the creator’s shortcomings.
Invest in Original Graphic Design for Great Results
Your friends won’t tell you, but I will: ugly doesn’t improve with time.
Within the context of social media, visuals are usually derived from photographs, illustrations, or a combination of the two. They can be used as is or modified, combined, or sampled and combined with type elements and shapes. This series of PRSA event promos I designed illustrates the point.
Colors can be shifted, shapes and objects distorted. The best visuals are unique to their specific environment, not warmed over leftovers. From social cover art and profile badges to press release supplements and web site assets, creative visual is not only desirable, but essential.
The Difference? Superior Engagement Versus Abandonment
And where are the sources for that exceptional visual content everyone is looking for? Begin with a creative director for concepts and execution. Art directors turn an idea into a finished product using various visuals, distinctive styles, and element arrangements. Pick a copywriter for a well turned phrase or snappy tagline that can catapult a campaign. Graphic designers. Illustrators. Photographers. Typographers. All play a strategic role in creating effective content of value.
So while everyone pretty much understands the role of visual content and what it brings to a message, greatness is achieved through actual talent and training, not just by proclaiming the task done and hoping for the best.