The 4 Cs of Emotion-Driven Visuals on Social Media

By Betsy Osterberger

Marketing is at its best when it causes consumers to catch feels, as the kids say. Whether you’re publishing a television spot or a Facebook ad, the key to influencing purchasing decisions is creating experiences that impact your audience on an emotional level.

Now that we’re telling stories within the context of digital media, we aren’t confined to a singular asset when we want to tap into audience emotions. We can use our entire Instagram feed, Pinterest profile, or Facebook Watch archive to convey a consistent persona and stand out from the onslaught of content fans see on a daily basis.

The 4 Cs of Emotion-Driven Visuals can help your brand create a cohesive visual esthetic that sparks brand loyalty and influences purchasing decisions.

1. Consistency

The first step to tapping into emotion with visuals is consistency. Before you do the heavy lifting of eliciting emotion, it’s crucial to make sure that your audience is going to connect that emotion to your brand.

Visual identifiers like color, logos, and fonts make up your brand’s personal style, and they should be present in all of your content. With consistent visuals, fans can use their energy and attention to absorb the emotional impact of your message and your brand identity simultaneously, rather than as an afterthought.

Lifestyle brand, Ban.do regularly publishes digital content that uses visual consistency to tap into emotion.

Not only does their content include consistent colors, iconography, and type, the visuals they’ve chosen perfectly elicit the personality of the brand. You can tell just by looking at their website or Instagram feed that the company firmly believes in the power of fun, unabashed girlishness and never taking oneself too seriously.

2. Cueing

You’ve heard that attention is the currency of business in the digital age, and you’ve likely been working to shorten your videos, cut your copy, and simplify your website. One of the best ways to create thumb-stopping content with no words at all is by implementing visual cues.

With pops of recognizable color and eye-catching movement, you’re telling your brand’s story and activating intrigue in the user experience. A great role model for using both color cues and movement is DCT mattress brand Casper.

One look at their bright and playful feed shows that their brand isn’t just about their products. They use human movement to show how their products fit into your life and, most importantly, how they make you feel. Bright visuals with a pop of blue will stop loyal fans in their tracks when scrolling through the feed (or even walking down the street) and make them remember how much they love their Casper product.

3. Context

As we learned from Casper, showing products or services in action allows fans to imagine enjoying the experience themselves. While product features are important, it’s even more crucial to show your audience how your product or service can make them feel safe, comfortable, inspired, or whatever feeling you have to offer.

Going to the dentist is a famously unpleasant experience, but Lydian Dental is trying to make the yearly visit more fun. From their Tiny Home Dental Clinic to cavity-free chocolate bars, it’s clear that these dentists are here for a good time and their web content expresses exactly that mission.

Their Instagram feed and website show young, energetic technicians engaging with guests in authentic ways (not your standard stock photos) and beautiful interiors of their unique offices. Just a few swipes through their feed and you just might want to ditch your dentist for this smiley crew.

4. Contrast

Contrast provides balance against consistency — too much of the former leads to noise while too much of the latter leads to blandness. Truly knowing your brand’s visual identity means knowing when and how to break the rules.

CBD-infused sparkling water brand Recess is well-acquainted with the delicate balance of pairing cohesion with contrast. While their Instagram feed features a variety of content types from memes to lifestyle shots, their 90s-themed aesthetic and calming pastel color scheme remain present throughout their content, providing fans with an easy-to-identify emotional experience that perfectly matches the intention of their product.

Emotionally-engaging content starts with a marketer who knows the true emotional impact of their brand. Find the unique emotion your product or service elicits or addresses and use the 4 Cs of Emotion-Driven Visuals to express that impact in your marketing efforts.

For more TSL insights on emotional marketing, check out our latest issue of Trend Tap!

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