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Visual Branding 101 – Marketing via Fantasy & Reality

With visual marketing, 2 of the simplest ways to create a feeling in an audience are to:

– captivate them with scenes that they think they can only achieve in their wildest dreams (fantasy)

– relate to them with scenes that recreate their lifestyle (reality)

Now let’s take a look at how to do so.

I’ll be using two different brands for this, and the first is Earth.

Now, from looking at their page you can see they’re about creating fantasy in the eyes of the audience.

This brand is meant to make you *feel* the experience of being young, wild and free – of traveling the world with your friends and living a life that most people could only see a glimpse of in their wildest dreams.

what do they do well?

  • center their visual imagery around a certain aesthetic (young, fit attractive travelers that want to explore the world).
  • use ONLY high quality pictures that make you FEEL as though you’re there, seeing the beautiful sights yourself through your own eyes.
  • create a sense of exclusivity, a “cool kids club” type of feeling, if you will (they carefully select and curate their featured post from submissions on their hashtag).

Now there are a lot more things they do with their branding, but these are some of the key takeaways:

  • show people that people either relate with, or want to
  • show the possibility of lifestyle that most could only dream of
  • make people want to be those who get submitted

I don’t think Earth even sells products, to my knowledge they make money through ad revenue and possibly their email list – but that’s besides the point.

If they launched a product TODAY it’d be sold out by TONIGHT because that’s how powerful their branding is, it connects w/ people.

This is what you want your branding to do, to give people something they can connect to something they can long for and work towards – something well enough within the realm of reality to be believable, but still magical enough to seem like some sort of distant fantasy.

Earth took “I want to explore this big, beautiful ROUND blue ball (because the earth isn’t flat folks) we inhabit I want to see all its wonders, experience all of its amazing sights and scenes, To be young, free and able to go where I want and see what I want” and made it a brand

Now let’s look at the reality part of visual branding with another company: Realtree.

Your views on hunting aside, this brand does what it’s trying to do well – conveys a relatable experience while also showing the reality of said experience, and offering a “level up” for it.

Realtree says directly what it’s about – Family, Friends and the Outdoors.

While not as carefully selected as Earth’s, their visual branding is definitely intended to convey the reality and experiences of hunting and the great outdoors with those who love it.

The thing they do differently with their branding that I don’t see a lot of hunting/outdoors brands do is add in the “togetherness” element.

Think about it, everybody has friends and family they love this page is catered towards hunters and the outdoorsy, so it makes sense that they’d show off the reality of that right?

But by adding in and stressing the “family and friends” aspect they give it another twist.

I mean wouldn’t you love to do the things you love to do with the people you love to be around? who wouldn’t?

Hunting is apparently a very popular family thing anyway among those who do it, so Realtree took this very aesthetic and created a brand out of it those who love hunting, shooting and the great outdoors – surrounded by their friends & family, having a good old time & loving it!


RT took what the audience of a particular market (hunting) already does (spend time with family) and combined it all into one feeling the amazing feeling of being in the places you love, doing the things you love with the people you love – for those who love shoots and boots.

They actually sell products, outdoor/hunting equipment and stuff like that & they could have just simply tried to brand themselves as “The Premiere Online Retailer of Premium Outdoors and Hunting Products”.

Probably wouldn’t have worked, but they could have tried it.

Instead:

– They took a feeling (being able to spend time with your family and friends and cherishing those moments

– Related it to an activity, aka a niche in this case (hunting) and an environment (the great outdoors) and

– Created a brand around it

This is what’s important.

Notice I’ve barely talked about products? That’s because they don’t matter…

Well, obviously you don’t wanna be sellin’ shit quality goods that don’t have the advertised features – but you still want to provide certain benefits as well.

The branding is WAY more important than the product! (I CANT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!)

Earth could sell basic globe keyrings and RealTree could be selling moose paw pens and I GUARANTEE you they’d make tens, probably hundreds of thousands OVERNIGHT.

Why? Because before they decided what products to offer, they offered a feeling,

A want,

A longing,

An experience.

The name of the game is to make your audience FEEL, and if they can’t experience a feeling then it’s a good chance you wont experience the joy of them pulling out their wallet, debit card or whatever and handing over their bread.

Remember, if you have any questions or want to ask me anything feel free to email me, I try to answer and at the very least read every email I get but I apologize if I ever can’t get to yours.

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