The Big Impact of Visual Communication (Bonus EP15)

The best social sharing snippet from this interview is by far… “Part of the problem is, is that you might have a library and then you get bored of it, and then you stopped using it and start going willy nilly on all the things and it gets, it starts getting muddy. And so if you have a broad visual library, it, that interchanges and works really well together. Then you really don’t tend to get bored because you have options to switch out and kind of work with overall.”

In this podcast episode, I chat with Jillfrances Gray, Principal of JFG Visual Communications. Jillfrances talks about the importance of strong visual design, explaining the process of visual communication and how it facilitates better brand recognition and user engagement. She goes into strategies for developing a unique digital identity, the benefits and pitfalls of using AI and stock photography, and provides tips on maintaining consistency in visual branding. She also touches on the creativity and problem-solving aspects of visual communication and how small businesses can effectively implement these strategies.


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Hello, and welcome to the small business sweet spot. I’m your host Barb Davids, and this show is dedicated to helping small business owners like you get more organic website traffic and also to help create and distribute content and analyzing the numbers so that we can make better informed marketing decisions. It is action oriented, direct, and conversational. And if you’ve been looking for SEO or content marketing help, please stick around to the very end where I share about the group coaching program, small business sweet spot. I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s go.

And welcome back to The Sweet Spot. I am here today with Jillfrances Gray, Principal of JFG Visual Communications.

How are you doing? I’m good. How are you? I am good. Thanks so much for taking the time today. I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me. Yeah. Jillfrances Gray is the principal of JFG Visual Communications. She specializes in creating visually driven marketing strategies for B2B startups in healthcare, data sciences, and technology. Jill Francis combines creativity, strategic thinking, and logical execution to support her clients goals.

She collaborates with startup founders and chief marketing officers offering services as a fractional creative director and versatile visual designer. Whether the challenge requires high level creative direction or hands on design work, she provides creative expertise and comprehensive project management support to ensure successful implementation at every stage of an organization’s growth.

, now I’ve read your bio, if you would share in your own words and what your sweet spot is. Sure. I would say visual design. I have a background as I have my BFA in graphic design, but have then translated into web design and multimedia design and production and, you know, Just really honing my skills and visual communications overall.

So I don’t say one particular type of design because it’s more of an overall visual impact. I sort of focus on looking at how can a message, a story, a project and implementation, a strategy, whatever, how can that be relayed visually? That might mean a video that might be motion graphics. That might be a landing page.

How that, how that looks and what the graphics look like. And really try to take the viewer through the visual journey that they might, they might have rather than relying on, on content or written content, like most people are used to. And is it normally like for external content for businesses or internal content?

It can be both. It really depends upon what, what the need is, so it’s, it’s very versatile, but it’s a different way of looking. One of the reasons why I like to do this particular thing is because there’s a majority of people that are visual learners versus those that learn through reading. And so I try to adapt most things of like thinking of that user in mind.

How is one way that they would know that they would need something like this, the visual communication? I mean, I think if they thought about their end user and their audience and think about, like, how, how a person generally intakes information we do know that generally a visual is, takes milliseconds for the eyes to recognize and to be able to process within the brain.

And it also means that people’s attention spans, when they go to websites, they’re skimming. And so they’re not necessarily wanting to read long paragraphs of content or, you know, people are relying on video because they know that they can get their message across a lot quicker. And so it’s understanding how that brain processes the content information, and then relying on visuals to kind of take some of that heavy lift from things so that when people are scanning, they’ll be able to look at it, you know, if you do it correctly.

You’re looking at a visual and getting part of the story and then, you know, continuing on or you’re looking at that video and you’re getting the messaging right away and then you’re moving on. So it’s, it’s trying to help the brain to recognize those certain things so that it puts it in the back and can quickly recognize it when they see it again.

It’s just so fascinating, like trying to put words individual or trying to relay information, especially in like a split second, right? Like there must be, you must know about like how fast people like bring things in or like, Like, can you talk to that part of it?

Sure. There was actually a research research that was done at MIT, and I’m not going to have this specific stat and I’ll have to get that back to you. But people process visuals and like .3 something milliseconds. And so when you’re walking down the street, your eyes are I mean, you might not notice it, but your eyes are constantly scanning and they’re looking around and they’re the brain is taking in information.

And so part of the brain. Once it sees patterns or shapes or something, you can then they go back in your brain to remember them. And then when they see them again, your brain puts them in the forefront. And so that’s why large brands have such good recognition is because not only are they everywhere and they have the, the budgets to be able to be everywhere, but It allows you to know what, you know, Coca Cola looks like and Starbucks looks like, you know, because we see them over and over and over again in many different touch points in many different ways.

And so your brain automatically just sees, you know, the green Starbucks logo and knows, knows automatically as Starbucks doesn’t need to have Starbucks written underneath it. They just see that logo and that’s it. And so part of the visual communications is to be able to create graphics that are so unique to a person that like a particular brand and being able to put them in the touch points where your audience is so that when your audience is seeing them, they automatically recognize them.

It’s really difficult to do, but it can be done. And so, you know, the larger brands do it really well because they have the budgets to do it. And so like, when you’re working with smaller companies, you have to be really strategic about those touch points in order for your audience to start to recognize your brand.

That leads me great into the next question then for our small business owners. What are some of the, the ways that you do that? Well, I try to like make sure that when they’re creating their identity, that their identities are at least unique to them and, and are significant to them and also significant to those they want to work with.

Really trying to be custom with the colors and the fonts. It’s really easy to try to go and use templates or something like that, but try not to look like everybody else and try to make them, you know, have all the elements look like they, they own you. Yeah. And then Then look at the touch points and where your audience is going to be and seeing what is feasible.

Sometimes smaller companies might think that they have to do certain types of marketing, whereas, you know, don’t waste your time on marketing where your audience is not, you know, find out truly where your audience is and stick to those places. So, and how do you feel about the AI situation when it comes to visual communication?

So that is kind of a loaded question just because of all the implications. I mean, sure, you can make really fun and interesting visuals, but then there’s also the legality of it. Where’s it being pulled from, you know, is it looking too fake is, you know, so there’s, there’s other reasons why you shouldn’t use it, but if you’re creating your own images.

And you have that ownership of those images and it’s true to your brand and your style that you’re deciding that you’re, you want to look like and the elements that you decide that you want to look like. And so you’re creating your own versus taking pieces of anybody else’s, you know, items. Yeah.

So I, I am 100 percent on to that. side of things or that perspective. I, I have trouble trying to figure out why people would want to use it as heavily as some people do for that reason, because I feel like, yeah, that not only are they pulling from existing sources, but it’s, It’s everything’s going to start looking the same and it’s, it’s not unique and it’s not you.

It’s, it’s not you actually when you’re generating it from that. I mean, I guess that’s the whole debate, right? Like some of it is, but some of it’s not. Yeah. And that’s why it’s really hard about it was stock photography. I mean, there was a period of time because like the less expensive stock photography was so overused that you could go someplace and you could see it in the same industry, the same image being used.

And that, That’s really not making the best impression because it, it, it’s kind of showing that your lack of care for your brand. And so it’s kind of like you, you still want it to be you. You don’t want it to be somebody else. That’s exactly right. It’s because if you, I always felt like too with stock photography, it looked, I mean, it even looked fake.

It wasn’t even just not them, but it looked fake. It didn’t look like a real person. It looked like a scammy website. Yeah. Yeah.

So in terms of when you’re working with a client, what types of questions do you ask them or should they be aware of that they should know about their own business, maybe beyond the audience? I think there’s that, but what are some helpful things to have in order to get started down the road of , visual communication?

Well, besides the having your, your pillar brand strategy elements of your vision, your values or whatever, as far as like components of a visual brand, it would be a really strong, unique digital identity that would include a multifunctional, logo, but also strong colors, strong typography.

Having visual elements that like knowing the direction of your photography, like being able to tell your photographer, like work with a specific photographer or have a specific direction in which you work with your photographer or videographer. Also having patterns. or shapes or, or elements that you can incorporate within your design library that will be something that’s carried over to all types of things, not only print, but in, in digital that might sound kind of hard to understand, but having a visual, a broad visual library that you can interchange.

And within the colors and typography gives you a lot of different options as far as looking at the media in which you’re going to design. So it’s kind of, yeah, kind of really thinking about that library and then making sure you’re consistent with using it. Part of the problem is, is that you might have a library and then you get bored of it, and then you stopped using it and start going willy nilly on all the things and it gets, it starts getting muddy.

And so if you have a broad visual library, it, that interchanges and works really well together. Then you really don’t tend to get bored because you have options to switch out and kind of work with overall. Hmm. Yeah, that’s a very good point. Very good point. You spoke to consistency. Is there some tips that you can share in order to keep that consistency across all the platforms?

Yeah. I think if it’s a question to start with colors and really just, Work with the colors that you, that you would like and have the complimentary colors that work well together and keep those colors consistent keep the fonts consistent. That’s, that’s the easiest thing to do. I know that that after a while, you can get bored with that.

That’s when you start looking at shape or you look at start looking at pattern or you start looking at. The negative versus positive that’s when you can start to deviate a little bit, but kind of stay with that foundation of what you established. Okay. Is there a type of visual that resonates more with consumers or the readers of somebody’s website? I always thought as long as the visual works with the headline of the content that it makes sense that they’re like, the headline is right next to the visual that they tie in somehow, whether that be an illustration or photograph that they should relate to each other.

in some capacity. I’ve seen trending for illustration. They have a certain style that everybody seems to be copying in the tech space. It would be nice if that got diversified a little bit because everybody’s starting to look the same, but it’s also, you know, if you like a certain illustration style, make sure that it resonates with the audience resonates within the industry that you’re working with and is is professional is, is representing your company professionally.

And in terms of, I mean, it has to be, it’s a very creative area. How do you, how do you keep creative? How do you keep juices flowing? I look a lot on Instagram at other artists, which is awesome. I take art classes. to see what other people are doing experiments a lot with different types of medium and always trying to learn how to do things and figure things out, test work on it until I can’t stand it anymore.

Yeah, I mean, it’s fun. It’s fun to do and it’s, it’s, It’s a challenge to always try to make it something different, but that’s also respectful of what the, what will represent the client really well. I love collage. I incorporate it when I can, but it’s not always going to be appropriate for every single client.

So you have to kind of think, but doing a square up is not very exciting either. Unless you have a really good photographer and then you can art direct what that image content may be, or create the video. Yeah, but it’s, it’s, it’s an evolution. It’s always like, try this, try that type of thing. Yeah.

You mentioned a collage. How can you elaborate on that? Like how would you use a collage in a piece of visual? In generally taking either a, an object, a person, a situation, and then incorporating shapes, patterns, lines colors, overlays, you know, It could be of putting taking a human image and put it in a particular shape and having a pattern that overlays it or taking two opposing images and putting them together and colorizing them or taking a pattern and colorizing an image so that it looks like a dot matrix or it looks like a different type of pattern but you can still recognize what that object is.

Watercolors. I mean, there’s, there’s so many different directions it could go. That’s fun. Yeah. What’s been your most fun project to date?. I, I recently did a website for catch on communications and I was really able to incorporate collage and in colors and different types of photography within the website, not only having the heroes be a certain structure, but also the individual images that went with each of those.

the sections were silhouette mixtures of, of shapes and colors and, and people. So that was fun to work on. Oh, and infographics, love doing infographics. Okay. That’s that, the reason I like those is because you’re taking a complex problem and you’re trying to break it down into a visual that can be kind of like torn apart and takes people through the story.

And so they’re little tiny illustrations that will kind of do that. Those are always fun, like figuring out the problem and then designing what it’s going to look like. Yeah, I imagine I’ve only dipped my toe in a little bit for myself and I get to a point where some of them, which is clearly why I need to call you, where they’re like, it’s like the words and I’m like, I don’t know how to turn that into something visual.

to make it easily digestible. Like it’s just too hard. Yeah. Yeah. And they’re, they’re great for social and it’s great for blog posts and emails and things like that. So it’s like, it’s a good piece of content to kind of send out and kind of like visually entice people to look at it. It’s good. Yeah. If somebody were considering taking a look at their content strategy and they’re like, yeah, I need to add some visual effect to this.

I need to give it some something. I need to make it pop as they say without giving explanation for pop. That’s a very overused phrase, but what do you recommend they start with? It really depends on what, do you want it for social?

Do you want it for emails? Do you want it for your website? Do you want it for a giveaway? Do you have a special event coming up? I guess it would depend on the context of of the end result, I guess. Okay. So it is kind of like by project almost too, it sounds like. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, unless it was I’m, you know, I have my brand, it’s not really working for me, it needs to be updated.

I have a logo, but I don’t have anything else and I’ve been just using Canva and I’m not being, you know, nothing I’m doing is unique. So it could be, let’s look at your identity, and then how can we build a visual library off of that, or let’s look at your identity. And does it need to be improved? Is it truly working?

Is it attracting your audience in the way that you want it to? Is it representing you correctly? And then build a visual library based off of that need. And then with that also too could be, now that you have this visual library, Here’s instructions of how you can use it if you don’t want to work with me, or you want to do it on your own, or, or whatever. , is there something that I maybe am not seeing that you would like to share in terms of what people should consider when it comes to visual communication? I’m just gonna think outside the box and to think besides doing stock photography and templates and things like that because, yes, those are really a good source of an option to do something quick and But to be unique and to really establish a really strong brand of your own, it’d be better to have , a strong brand visual library for yourself that, that you incorporate into your your business and be strategic about it. I love it. That is awesome. And Where can people find you or what do you want to point them to in terms of if they were thinking about taking the next steps? Sure. My website is jfg.

com. It’s super simple. There’s a lot of information on that, that can talk about what I offer. I also have a 30 minute free consultation that anybody can sign up for if they’re interested to learn more and yeah, can find me on LinkedIn if they want to, but I’m. I’m kind of quiet on LinkedIn, so going to my website would probably be the best way.

All right. Well, thank you so much for joining me today and taking the time to talk about visual communications. So thank you. Thank you. It’s great. All right. And that wraps up today’s episode on visual communications for your small business. Stay tuned for more episodes on making your business thrive online.

We’ll see you in the next sweet spot. Cheers.

Thank you for sticking around. I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you’re looking for SEO and content marketing help, consider joining the small business sweet spot. It’s a group coaching program where you can get answers to your questions about your business directly and clarity around the marketing strategies that you would like to implement in your business.

You can find all kinds of information at compassdigitalstrategies. com. And if you liked the episode, please tell a friend. Cheers.

Barb Davids - SEO Consultant

Barb Davids is an SEO consultant and owner of Compass Digital Strategies. Driven by data and analytics, she works hard to get business-changing results for her clients, such as 256% more website traffic and 22% more leads. Connect with her: Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter
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