Colour, lines, texture, shapes…. Entire worlds are created out of pure imagination. Illustration is a medium that blurs the lines between art and business. Illustrations are displayed in some of the most prestigious art galleries in the world, as well as on billboards in Times Square, successfully selling millions of Nike footwear. There are still many outdated stereotypes out there that place illustration squarely in the realm of art, far away from business, marketing, and advertising. That’s not the case at all.

Illustrations, in a business context, can be defined by playful graphics that help a business of any shape or size appear more human, and are used to help communicate often-complicated messages from that business more clearly. Illustrations, when crafted creatively and strategically, can help inform, persuade, and influence consumers and customers, often in a more emotional way than other mediums.

So, why should your business use them?

Allan Wrath

Image © Alan Wrath

1. Illustration opens hundreds of creative doors

The creative process is a little bit like problem-solving. Many briefs require an answer to a problem or require the simplification of a complicated message. Illustration, when brought into the creative problem-solving process, can widen the range of solutions for advertising messages. For example, you can invent anything you want. Illustration, unlike video or photo, can invent a person or place that has never existed, or depict a person whose characteristics, age, gender, or race cannot be identified. Fictional characters can be created too. Need a half dragon half zebra lying on a beach under a Pohutakawa tree with a melting ice cream in one hand? The possibilities for brand storytelling are endless.

2. Illustrations beat stock images. 

Using illustrations in a campaign avoids the need for stock imagery. Stock imagery has its place, however, illustrations give the campaign or brand piece a sense of authenticity. Many stock images are overused, especially if they’re New Zealand shot (due to us being a smaller market.)

You can also never have full control over the look when using stock images. There’s often something in the image you want to change, like people, angle, composition, or slightly different lighting. Using illustrations gives you full control over what the artwork looks like, the mood it creates, and how it communicates your brand or message to the world. You own that piece of work.

3. A great option if you’re WFH-ing.

Working from home during red light setting or don’t want to organise a shoot in turbulent Covid times? Illustrations only require you, us, an illustrator, and a few emails and calls. It can be a lot less admin to get the same beautiful outcome for your campaign. Here’s a campaign we put together for Instant Finance during Alert Level 4 last year.

4. Illustrations are cost-effective. 

Illustration can also be a cost-effective way of producing concepts. Photographic concepts require location, talent, props, post-production costs which can all add up very quickly. On the other hand, illustration can not only visualise concepts that aren’t photoreal but also create photographable subjects at a much lower cost.

So, I hope you’ve learnt something new today about the wonderful, creative, and colourful world of illustration. Remember, at the end of the day, the best creative output is also determined by what the brief is, or what your goals for your company and brand are. Don’t know what those are? Contagion can help you figure that out too.

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