Visual Linings Playbook

Take a journey through some of the best visual campaigns’ playbooks, and start enjoying the rewards to your marketing efforts

Lauren Dowdle
March 24 2018

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what are your marketing images saying? Successful marketers keep the imagery in the forefront of their campaigns, knowing how important they can be to the overall message. As Kim Garst, CEO of Boom Social, said, “Visuals express ideas in a snackable manner.” The trend to incorporate more visual elements in marketing is only going to continue. While the most important type of content for marketers remained blogging at 38%, a 2016 report from Social Media Examiner stated that visual marketing came in close behind at 37%. And blogging actually dropped 7%— while visual marketing jumped up 3%— from 2015 to 2016.

There are a variety of tools and formats you can use to create your visual marketing campaign, but here are five of the top options and examples of how brands have created successful messages with them.

#1 Infographics: Happify

A marketing piece on how to leave worries behind seems like a natural fit for, which focuses on providing resources to achieve happier, healthier lives. More than a dozen third-party sites picked up their design, expanding their reach well beyond their customers.

This infographic is successful for a few key reasons:

  • Simple, balanced design with white space
  • Focuses on one idea/topic
  • Even mix of graphics and text
  • Includes sources to prove reliability and trust
  • Consistent image look and style

Another important aspect of the design is how they used the green bars and white text throughout for the different sections. That keeps the elements from running together and helps people digest the information more easily.

Tip: To best track your infographic’s success, make sure it’s published on its own landing or blog page. Including inbound links can also alert you to any other sites picking up your piece, giving you a better idea about its reach. Or, perform a reverse image search on Google using your infographic to see where it’s ended up.

#2 Memes: Denny’s

You might think of memes as more of a joke than a legitimate marketing tool, but brands like Denny’s prove there’s value with these viral images. They tweeted this meme out in 2017, and it’s gotten nearly 120,000 retweets, 2,400 comments and 171,000 likes.

Denny’s followed the “zoom-in” trend with this one, which directs people to look at different parts of the image before getting to the main point. It’s a simple idea, but one that does its job. Here are some reasons why this meme performed so well:

  • Uses an original, eye-catching image
  • Image highlights one of their products
  • Punchline text makes people laugh
  • Simple, relatable message

Tip: Only use images you own to prevent copyright issues. That also helps ensure your meme is original and won’t be confused with someone or something else. Have fun with the image and text, but make sure it fits your brand: Don’t just post a funny saying on a cat pic unless it relates to your product or service.

#3 Live video: Airbnb

Who wouldn’t want to spend a day in Paris or some tropical location? Airbnb tapped into that desire with its “We Are Here” Facebook Live campaign, which won a Facebook award. With different videos from a variety of locations, they gave people a glimpse into what it would be like to visit those destinations. Its Paris video earned 1.7 million views, 350 shares, 4,800 likes and more than 600 comments. Here are reasons these live videos were so popular:

  • Not trying to sell something
  • Shows real people exploring a city
  • Highlights interesting places and activities
  • Allows users to comment and interact in real time


Live videos also tap into something even bigger. Fear of missing out (FoMO) is a real thing and a concern marketers can use to their advantage. With live videos, you’re sharing something that you want followers to see right now, and sites like Facebook will often notify your audience to let them know you’ve gone live. And there’s proof this approach works: The average time spent on desktops for live videos is 34.5 minutes, compared to 2.6 minutes for videos on demand.

Tip: Don’t use live videos to sell a product or service. Instead, make it about creating an experience. For example, if you have an event going on, show people what they’re missing by not being there. Or, give them a behind-the-scenes look at how you do what you do. Live videos should be personal conversations with your audience, not scripted messages that will come across as disingenuous.

#4 Video: Chatbooks

[Video link:]

With more than 16.5 million views, this video from Chatbooks is a perfect example of how to share about your product and brand without making it seem like that’s what you’re doing. Their relatable humor has people viewing the video for enjoyment, instead of considering it an ad.

Instead of simply talking about their product, they use the video to show who does (and doesn’t) need it, what problem it solves, how it compares to the competition and that it knows its audience. They wait to talk about their product until 1.5 minutes into the video, having built trust and anticipation leading up to that point.

Just a few reasons why this video has been so successful:

  • Less than 5 minutes long
  • Connects with viewers on a personal level
  • Shows they understand customer struggles
  • Provides a solution

Tip: Adding captions to your videos might take a little extra work, but it’s worth it, especially if you share it on social media. People often like to watch videos without sound on, so that ensures they get the full experience.

#5 Images: GoPro

All of the stunning images on GoPro’s Instagram account make one thing clear to followers: It’s all about the exhilarating experiences. They don’t post product shots or your typical marketing posts, but instead, they focus on what makes their brand so special. Their customer-submitted and internal images are amazing to view, like the example above.

The amazing shot of the Great Barrier reef has earned 280,000 likes and 768 comments since it was posted in February, and all of their images are about on par with those numbers. Here’s why their images are catching people’s attention:

  • Highlight the experience (not product)
  • Several provide first-person point of view
  • Feature exciting locations, people and activities
  • Encourage audience to try new things (inspiration)
  • Crisp, colorful shots

Tip: Capture emotions and experiences with unique images. It might not be practical to only ever use original images, but be careful with the stock photos you choose. They still need to convey the look and feel of your brand, especially considering detailed images are said to be important to 67 percent of consumers during their purchase decision. Also, be sure to optimize the image, tagging things like the category, product, brand and message.

Time to focus on visual marketing

You might be surprised what you can achieve with some engaging images, videos and creativity. Just remember to stay true to your brand, instead of trying to create the next viral meme or video. Consumers are pretty savvy and can tell when you’re not being authentic.

Try to create a marketing campaign with a variety of visual elements. Videos might perform well on Facebook, for example, but images will get more attention on sites like Twitter and Instagram. Build a cohesive visual strategy that matches the tools to the targeted audience.


Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

Leave a comment:


Let's Get Acquainted

Chars: 0

Get your free print edition!

Fill out your complete details below

Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0
Chars: 0