Why You Should Use Custom Illustrations In Your Designs

Custom illustrations can help brands stand out and there’s a ton of different ways they can be used. This is because most people look at images first and text second. Basically, humans are very visual creatures. And when we’re getting inundated by so many visuals on a daily basis, using custom illustrations can help your brand stand out and connect with customers. 

Content is king – we all know this, and with the right kind of imagery, your content can have an even bigger impact. So let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use custom illustrations to boost your brand. 

Different styles of custom illustrations and how they can be used 

2020 has brought about a lot of new challenges for businesses across industries. Chances are you’re thinking about how to revamp your marketing so that you can engage with your customers more effectively. And that’s where illustrations come in.

There was a time when illustration was just composed of things like paper, pencils, paint or charcoal. These still exist, of course, but they have also evolved over time. Illustrations started going digital with the likes of  Photoshop and 3DMax. The advent of the digital revolution was something that gave illustration artists a lot to experiment with. Below, are some of the trending illustration styles that you may want to experiment with.

Trending illustration styles to consider

Try Abstract

With more brands adding illustrations into the mix, a unique illustration can go a long way to standing out. To make sure your intended meaning doesn’t get lost consider using abstract illustrations accompanied by text. And use them sparingly to make sure that each one makes an impact.

Go Bright and Bold

Another way to stand out, especially on social media, is with bright and bold custom illustrations. As the colours and elements will do the job in getting your audience’s attention, use this trend with simple, uncluttered illustrations. Fewer details and more shapes are a great rule of thumb here. Be sure to alternate posts that have bright, bold illustrations with simpler posts for the sake of your Instagram grid!

Hand-Drawn Illustrations

Hand drawn illustrations can convey messages in a way that digital designs just can’t. And they can stand out when used because we are so much more accustomed to seeing digital illustrations. Hand-drawn illustrations include textures and a tactile nature that can make for engaging options. Consider them for precision illustrations, that include a lot of detail.

3D Illustrations

3D illustrations can really make a mark. They help bring designs that are typically two dimensional to life and create more immersive experiences as a result. Whether you choose to show off a product in this way, or the experiences associated with your product or service, you’ll make an impression.

Stock imagery  vs custom illustrations

This all might sound intriguing – but what about meeting your project timelines? Custom illustrations take longer to get done and there’s so many stock images, elements, and illustrations that you can take advantage of. This is definitely something to consider, but there are also a few other pros and cons to weigh. You’ll find them below:

Pros of using stock images, elements and illustrations:
  • Affordability – if you want to keep your costs down, stock images can help you. They can also be bought in bulk from some providers which will further lower the associated costs. Do keep in mind though, that the lowest priced packages will also have very low resolution. 
  • Quick access- if you feel that you have limited time to get your designs done, stock images can help. 
  • Variety – there are a lot of images that you can choose from.
Cons of using stock images, elements and illustrations:
  • Non exclusivity –  since anyone can download images from stock sites, you need to know that the images you download will be used by any others too. 
  • Cliche – the stock images that you download may be on the cheesy, exaggerated side. Since the creators are trying to make them as widely appealing as possible, they’re not always on the subtle side.
  • Limitations on customization – when you use stock images you are basically not allowing for as much creativity.
Pros of using custom illustrations: 
  • Exclusivity – you will have the full rights to what you use and your designs will be unique.
  • Personality – because of the fact that you have personalized designs, you will be able to add a lot of character to your brand. 
  • Customization – considering the fact that you’ll be working directly with a designer, you’ll get personalized service and illustrations customized to your needs.
Cons of using custom illustrations: 
  • Cost – Depending on the service you opt for, custom illustrations can add up to quite a bit per project. Of course, if you opt to work with a service like Kimp, you won’t need to worry about that. 
  • Timelines – As custom illustrations require quite a bit of time to develop and iterate, you may want to reserve your use of them to projects that allow enough lead time.

Writing a creative brief for a custom illustration

In order to make custom illustrations really worth your while, you’ll need to write creative briefs that get your vision across. Here are a few things you’ll want to include:

  • Brand and project background – tell your illustrator about your brand and the storyline that you want to express with your illustrations. Give them examples if possible so they can see what you mean. It doesn’t have to be an exact replica by any means, but even a sample that has one or two elements of what you want could go a long way.
  • Clarity – clearly explain the elements that are a must in your illustration (e.g. particular colours, shapes, styles) and those you wish to avoid. Taking the time to explain what you don’t want will help your illustrator understand the boundaries they’ve got to play within.
  • Brand and project assets – provide you illustrator with a set of brand guidelines if you have them, as well as any files that will help them as reference points.
  • Your goals – explain the goal you’re setting out to achieve with the illustration – is to engage? Inform? Let your illustrator know so that they can highlight the most important features of your illustration. 
  • Target audience – be sure to let your illustrator know as much as you can about your target audience. This will help them consider how to most effectively engage them with your illustration. 

The one rule of thumb in marketing when it comes to illustrations is that you do not do what everyone else is doing. You can use custom illustrations on their own or combine them with other design elements to create something truly unique. So get started by taking stock of your brand’s goals, and how you want to express them. And then experiment until you get what you’re looking for – custom illustrations that engage your audience like nothing else. 🙂