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  • Writer's pictureDavid B Townsend

Elements of Visual Marketing

Updated: 2 days ago

Visual Marketing is a term that has being bandied about in Web-Content and email marketing circles for a decade. Wikipedia defines “Visual marketing as the discipline studying the relationship between an object, the context it is placed in and its relevant image. As a key component of modern marketing, visual marketing focuses on studying and analyzing how images can be used to make objects the center of visual communication.”

As it pertains to marketing of a business, web based or storefront; these elements, which play into the visual marketing concept are vital at getting guests to interact and buy into your concept. Here is a punch list of visual elements to consider when developing a marketing plan. Beginning with store décor, merchandising, and color scheme in bricks 'n mortar retail to eye-catching layouts and user-interactive functions on your web page, these elements should all be utilized with great consideration and consistency.


  • Logo ~ Exclusive- designed for you alone. It should evoke some idea of what or who you are as a business.

  • Fonts~ Pick a max of three to use throughout all your marketing materials.

  • Signs ~ There are NO hand-written signs - unless that is the intent and are executed by a calligraphic hand. Sign formats should be uniform. Try variations on color, shape, and use the same fonts throughout.

  • Color Scheme ~ Use two to three colors and always use in everything you produce in print, web, and your physical space. Consider gradations of a base color. Rust, then dark brown or a light amber can be two of the three colors, with a complement of leafy green as the third color.


  • Unique~ You need to have a set of stock photos to draw from any time you need a visual image: storefront, lobby, plated entree, hotel suite, the breakfast buffet, etc.

  • Relevance ~ Images must tell your story, non-generic. Be careful in using web-based ‘Getty’ type stock images.

  • Eye Catching ~ Visually impactful- and this is a matter of personal taste and creative input.

  • Artistic ~ Dramatic or subtle, but always with a sense of appeal and uniqueness.

  • Message ~ Tell a story- the photo must convey who you are and what you do.


  • Consistency in fonts, I prefer a justified text in a brochure or ad, but you may have a reason for going in a different direction. Pictures, if used, in boxed border. Readability~ Font is legible and large enough to read in whatever lighting is present at the restaurant table. Keep in mind and test fonts for readability on smartphones as well as a traditional horizontal web page.

  • Graphics / Font~ Create a consistent look. No more than 3 fonts. Bold headings or titles should be used to highlight categories, i.e. soups, appetizers, entrees.


  • Deli Counter~ Displays must look appetizing and colorful- add height and texture to the displays with wood, cloth, steel, etc.

  • Merchandising Areas~ A good display tells a story. Think of the Christmas tree, with lights, shiny objects, and wrapped gifts, all placed in a very orderly fashion. It tells the story of Kris Kringle and Family's together. In food retail, you can sell related products, mugs, t-shirts, and tote bags with an eye for storytelling displays.

  • Plate Presentation~ Food styling is critical as the guest first eats with their eyes- the plate must create an expectation.

  • Retail Products~ Sauces, cookbooks, and food-related products that add value to a guest's visit.

General Visual Appeal

  • Decor Theme~ You must have a look that also tells a story about your unique appeal or cuisine (i.e. Western, Deco, biker bar, beachfront deli)

  • Color Usage~ As with graphics, pick two or three colors and use them exclusively in your decor and on your web page, brochures, etc.

  • Uniforms~ Appearance speaks volumes as to a server's appeal and professionalism: clean, neat, tucked-in or whatever you intend, it must be 'uniform' to everyone.

  • Traffic Flow~ How your room flows is important for comfort and non-invasive passageways of seated guests.

  • Entry Appeal~ Guest first impression is formed the minute they walk in the door. It must dazzle them. Have menus available to view and take.

  • Merchandising Displays~ Selling items with seasonal display themes, neat, well-stocked, think of the Apple Store. When you walk into typical convenience retail and some of the items on shelves are a bit sparse, aren't neatly stacked face forward, or big holes in a cooler door, it tells a very different story than one of success and abundance.

To leave you with a thought from one of the masters, Peter Drucker. One of his famous quotes: " Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." He often wrote about, as a manager you need to walk your business, through the front door as a customer would do. Open your eyes to see how you present yourself.

The Visual Marketing aspect is this. Look at every picture or graphic on your web page. Does it really serve a purpose, or is it just a reasonable item to fill the space; as with so many people using template-based web builders, you may feel the need to place a picture on the page with no real story behind it. Same for you retail décor, the bar, your entrance, the deli counter; make every element relevant to your food, product or service.

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