dark·​room | \ ˈdärk-ˌrüm  , -ˌru̇m \

noun

 

: A darkroom refers to a space where art and science come together to create something complete before premiering to the public. It’s where process and creativity combine to form a final product.

 

This is why we’ve chosen it as our name.

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Consumers Crave Creative Brands — Does Yours Fit the Bill?

You only have a few seconds to make an impression with potential or returning customers — on average, only 1.7 to 2.5 seconds, to be exact. A creative approach can make all the difference.

A generic, run-of-the-mill ad simply isn’t going to deliver the return on investment you desire. Instead, you have to think outside the box, both with the manner in which you market your product or services and in the way you present your brand as a whole.

Sure, authenticity may get a lot of attention, but I’ve seen plenty of evidence in my time at Darkroom to suggest that creativity still makes a big difference for the average consumer.

With personalized, attention-grabbing storytelling, you can make your brand fit the right creative mold in today’s business world:

Let’s Get Personal

Personalization, rather than an exclusive focus on traditional “large-scale” campaigns, is an essential part of today’s creative approach.

Just how big is personalization? A whopping 62 percent of millennials prefer to discover content on their own, because they feel it is personalized to their interests — the exact opposite of getting force-fed a standard ad. Even more importantly, these “discovery” users become very engaged, with 60 percent saying they’re more likely to buy a product after viewing this content.

In these situations, the personalization doesn’t necessarily come from the brand itself — rather, it is the result of consumers organically discovering content that interests them. This is where content marketing and SEO efforts matter — any why you need to invest in them.

Rather than serving as a direct ad, this content instead focuses on providing educational or entertaining information tailored to a specific niche. When users find this content, they view it as being personalized to their tastes.

Of course, content that is truly personalized can be even more effective.

An incredible 75 percent of consumers prefer buy brands that make recommendations based on previous purchases or know them by name — nobody’s worried about Big Brother here. With web analytics, email lists and other digital tracking tools, such practices are within reach for brands big and small.

What’s the Story?

Storytelling is central to creative branding. But today’s customers don’t want to see made-up stories like you’d find in a traditional advertising campaign. Instead, they want to feel a personal connection with your brand. They want to see how your services solve their real-life problems.

Authentic storytelling matches your company personality and attributes.

As Marketing Land’s Peter Minim explains, “Consumers perceive authenticity in what they see as genuine. Brands can achieve this with content that highlights a tradition of quality manufacturing and delivery or by expressing how their mission is reflected in products and company culture, all within the context of the brand’s perceived social role.”

To better understand how your story can appeal to your target audience, you have to dig into the data. Each audience is unique, and pairing your brand attributes with the right messaging is crucial for making an appealing pitch. Research and customer insights will allow you to fine-tune these advertisements for quality results.

Without this, your story will fall flat.

This is especially important if your brand targets multiple unique audiences. You must develop creative marketing materials that are specifically focused on each group. When quality messaging is paired with effective targeting, you can become a desirable brand for multiple demographics.

Keep in mind that demographic targeting needs to look at much more than standard items like age or gender. Narrowing down your target audience based on additional factors such as interests and hobbies, income or even occupation can lead to further personalization of marketing messages as you craft a compelling brand story.

The Crucial First Seconds

Social media use has made the average person more “visual” in their media consumption than ever before, a key consideration when trying to maximize your creative potential.

While an informational article on your website can be helpful, quality visuals are going to be what first captures someone’s attention — whether that be in a social media ad or a YouTube clip.

To be perceived as a creative brand, your visuals need to tell a full story in those crucial initial seconds. You have to start with an attention-grabbing visual hook that gives your audience a reason to keep watching.

Whether they think they’re going to be entertained or learn something new, delivering this value proposition early on will dramatically increase engagement.

Though what serves as an effective hook will vary among different audiences, there are a few best practices that have been shown to help capture audience attention.

The right emotional tone is especially important — unsurprisingly, humorous ads tend to yield higher engagement, but emotional and suspenseful ads have also been shown to have higher recall.

Though working your branding into the ad can be a tricky proposition, research suggests that recall and engagement improve when the brand logo is shown on a product, rather than as a standalone feature — such as in an ad that shows a consumer using your product.

Of course, all of this needs to be communicated in those crucial first seconds.

While this can prove to be a challenge, it’s one that we at Darkroom find especially invigorating as we develop campaigns that combine personalization, authentic storytelling and engaging visuals. You don’t have to be from a creative industry to be perceived as a creative, authentic brand.

As you use these principles to guide your marketing efforts, you’ll be able to make a stronger impression on potential customers, capturing their imaginations and generating positive growth for your company.

How (and Why) a Brand’s Strong Visual Identity Appeals to the Human Psyche

While ensuring that you provide the highest-quality service possible is a key part of cultivating the right public perception, I’ve seen time and time again that crafting a strong visual identity is just as important in achieving the desired outcome.

Ultimately, your visual identity is what sells the perception you want to create for your brand. 

Whether you want to be perceived as high-tech and reliable or rugged and tough, the right marketing and branding is essential — in large part because it has a direct impact on the human psyche.

Do You See What I See?

Though there are many elements that can go into creating a brand identity, there’s no denying that we as humans are primarily visual consumers. Our brains process visuals an incredible “60,000 times faster than text,” while 90 percent of all information that gets transmitted to the brain is visual.

These visual components don’t just allow our brains to quickly consume information — they also play a crucial role in our ability to learn and recall that information for future use. Even creating a visual association for a word or phrase can make it easier to recall later on.

Needless to say, all of this makes a significant difference in your own branding efforts.

No matter what your business does, you need potential customers to remember who you are and what you do. When you have mere seconds to capture and retain someone’s attention, the ability to quickly deliver important information through a strong visual identity is crucial to driving brand awareness.

The results of the brain’s visual processing power are perhaps most easily seen in social media and other digital content. Even something as simple as including images in social media posts can yield 650 percent greater engagement than text-only content — both in grabbing your audience’s attention and helping them remember your ad.

With stats like that, the power of visual marketing is fairly obvious.

We are visual consumers. With so many different media sources fighting for our attention, the brands that stick in our minds are those that can communicate a message or identity through easy-to-consume visual cues.

Visual Identity Building Blocks

It’s one thing to understand that a strong visual identity is important — but it’s quite another to ensure that you successfully create a distinct identity for your brand.

You can’t pick colors and fonts at random. Each element that goes into the visual design must be carefully considered based on the psychological messages it sends to the audience.

Simplicity is key when creating a strong visual identity — particularly when designing logos and other branded materials. A simple design reduces the viewer’s cognitive load, making it easier to recognize your brand — and buy your products.

Color is a crucial starting point in crafting a visual identity.

As Thomas Dawson explains, “All colors create a specific frame of mind for people–it’s called a mood. Having people be in the most receptive mood is essential for their engagement with your brand. Color sets the mood of brand expression, and more importantly, creates mental associations to the meaning of your brand within the context of the world it lives in … Color is foundational to the visual identity of your brand in all its expressions and executions.”

For example, Coca-Cola is forever linked to the color red, while Pepsi, its top competitor, primarily focuses on the color blue. UPS even incorporates its primary color (brown) into its marketing slogans.

These colors cause different emotional reactions, but because they are used consistently throughout the company’s branding, we come to instantly associate certain colors with certain brands.

Fonts and other visuals will also contribute to this overall visual identity — but only if you’re consistent with it.

Fonts and graphic designs can likewise evoke different emotional responses in viewers, and as such, should be closely aligned to your selected color scheme. Even non-branded images that go on your blog or website should evoke the same emotional response you hope to achieve with your logo and other marketing materials.

Becoming A People-Pleaser

To select the right visual identity for your brand, you have to start by knowing your target audience. After all, the emotional traits that would appeal to tough, outdoorsy workers is going to be significantly different than what would appeal to a hardcore video gamer.

Start with research and get to know your target audience based on their likes and dislikes. The more you come to understand them on an emotional level, the easier it will be to select color schemes and other visual elements that elicit the desired response.

The colors and imagery that deliver fantastic results for one brand won’t necessarily do the same for a company in a different industry.

At the end of the day, your brand’s visual identity has to foster an emotional connection with your target audience by tapping into the inner psychology of the brain. By understanding the emotional attributes that best appeal to your target audience, you can then guide your visual branding efforts to build a strong psychological foundation.

By crafting a strong, consistent visual identity, you’ll be able to create a brand that sticks in the minds of your customers and drives revenue.

As you come to better understand the psychological elements of design that most appeal to your target audience, you will strengthen public perception of your brand and lay the foundation for lasting customer loyalty.