Digital Marketing Guide: What Makes for Eye-Catching Images and Graphics

5 Tips for Creating Visuals that Demand Attention in the Digital Space

Getting noticed by your target audience is half of the battle in digital marketing.

If you don’t create eye-catching images and graphics, your audience will just scroll on by, and then you won’t see any return on your investment. 

Why? People are visual by nature when online. There is so much content to go through that people will decide to stop and read your post simply by whether or not the visual catches their eye. 

You could have amazing, thought-provoking, or meaningful copy, but without the great visual, your post will go nowhere, particularly with new audiences. 

With so much noise online, many find it hard to break through that noise. So how can you make your visuals stand out? How do you make people stop and take the time to actually read what you have to say, to read your call to action?

Here are my tips for creating eye-catching images and graphics that get people to stop, read, and take action!

1 | Choose a Tool that Works for You

If you are more experienced with creating graphics, you might already be familiar with paid tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. While these programs are packed full of amazing features, they can be daunting if you don’t have some design training. When you use a tool that isn’t user friendly for your abilities, it can make it hard to create visuals that look professional. Worse yet, when you struggle creating a graphic or image, that struggle can be evident to your audience when they see your design! It can come off as juvenile or unprofessional and if it does catch their eye, it won’t be for the reason you want.  

However, there are graphic creation tools out there for all levels of experience! It’s key that you choose the one that works for you and your skills. Platforms such as Canva and Adobe Express are user friendly even for those with no design experience thanks to their library of templates and elements that can spice up your content. Both of these programs offer paid plans, but you can use their free versions to test them out and see what works best for you.

By choosing the tool that works best for your abilities, you’ll be able to create images and graphics that are eye catching and professional. 

2 | Use Photos with Good Lighting

When it comes to photos, you want to make sure that you are using good lighting. This isn’t to say that everything has to be bright and colorful; if your brand or what you are trying to say would be better suited with dark and moody, then use dark and moody. But even dark and moody photos should have good lighting that shows contrast and doesn’t fall flat. 

I won’t go into the dos and don’ts of good lighting here as there are so many tutorials online that go into depth on how to properly light based on the type of items (or people!) that you are photographing and the mood or look you are trying to create. These tutorials often go into how to use natural or artificial lights to achieve your intended image goals. Check out this list of resources from SLR Lounge on studio photography or video tutorials on the Replica Surfaces YouTube channel for great food and product photography tips. 

If you don’t think you are that great with a camera (by the way, you don’t have to have a DSLR; phone cameras have come a long way and work great too), then use a royalty-free image site. There are tons of images to choose from that have been taken by photographers all over the world. Here you can find everything from pictures of landscapes, to people, to food, and more. For truly free royalty-free images, try out sites such as Unsplash, Pixabay or Pexels. If you want to pay for some images that might be more specialized in nature or to get something not everyone else may be using, sites such as Shutterstock and Adobe Stock offer thousands of high quality images.  

3 | Stick to Your Branding

Keep your brand in mind when choosing the colors, fonts, and other design elements for your images. The reason behind this is that you want people to see your visuals and instantly recognize that it is you posting. 

You don’t always have to use the colors in your logo, but incorporating some in your visuals can be helpful. For example, this could be applying a filter to an image with your brand’s main color. When it comes to choosing other colors, try to stick to ones that complement your brand colors. This will keep your visuals from looking childish or chaotic. To help you choose colors that work well together, check out Canva’s color wheel tool.

When it comes to fonts, it’s a good idea to incorporate your brand’s fonts as well. Just like with colors, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to only these fonts. When utilizing other fonts, be sure they coordinate well with your brand fonts. 

The point of branding is to be consistent; that is what allows people to instantly recognize your posts as yours. 

4 | Keep it Simple

While there are some trends lately toward maximalism, it’s important to know that there is a right way and a wrong way to design even maximalism. Maximalism pays attention to every pixel, but it’s not just a bunch of design elements thrown together. Each part of the image has a place and a purpose that takes the user on a journey through the image. 

With that said, you want to keep things simple, even for maximalist graphics. Don’t pack all of your information into your graphic; that is what your copy is for! Let’s take a look at an example of a post about an open position that you are advertising. No matter the style of graphic you choose, you don’t want to pack your image with details about the position. Instead, a “We’re Hiring” title with the job position title is all you need for the text in the graphic. 

When it comes to elements, you don’t want your image to be so cluttered that it becomes unreadable (yup, even for maximalist designs). You want to get your point across without going so overboard that it becomes chaotic. While you have a higher risk of unreadability in a maximalist design, you also want to keep things simple for other styles. If your brand is minimalist, don’t go overboard by using too many elements that end up making your design no longer minimalist. 

5 | Keep Up with Trends

Before we get into design trends, let’s talk about another “trend” to be aware of. That trend is the penchant of platforms to occasionally change their image size ratio. Facebook is a bit more notorious for this, though it generally happens after they have made some changes and updates to the platform. Just remember to keep an eye out for changes in image dimensions for the platforms, and design for each of those ratios specifically so that your images display properly when posted on the various platforms.

Even if your brand doesn’t suit some of the latest trends in imagery and graphic design, it’s important to keep up with the trends. Sometimes you’ll find a trend that suits your brand well, and if you are staying ahead of the curve, you’ll be setting the specifics of those trends yourself!

Many sites dedicated to design and marketing have blogs where you’ll often see them posting about design trends they see for the future. It’s a good idea to check in with multiple sites to see what they agree on as these are most likely going to be some of the future trends. 

Keep your eye on this space as later this year I’ll be sharing what I think are going to be the design trends for 2023 so you can start planning your strategies for next year. 

Final Thoughts

Images are so important to your social media strategy, even for platforms that aren’t solely image based, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Posts with photos get more likes and comments and all the engagement can really help your post get noticed by the algorithm. But you have to get some of that organic play first by creating those eye-catching visuals, and following these 5 tips will have you creating cohesive, on brand and eye-catching visuals that have your target audience stopping to see what you have to say.