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Illustrations Enhance a Brand’s Story. Can They Help Your Organization?

Melinda Arendt March 22, 2024

For member-driven organizations, your brand has to tell your story and set you apart from the competition. Targeted visuals and messaging help to communicate the value of membership, and engage your audience. As you aim to connect with the next generation of members, you need to ensure that the story is consistent, unique, and memorable.

The logo, design elements, and messaging are critical building blocks of your identity. In this article, we’ll explore a potential visual component of your brand.

Populating your website or any marketing asset with predictable images or generic stock photos adds nothing to your brand’s story. Custom photography, captured to represent your brand and your members, is much more effective. But even that may only get you so far. There are many situations where you should consider illustrations to set your organization apart.

Leveraging Illustrations

One of the biggest challenges for any organization is finding a way to distinguish yourself from competitors in an overcrowded digital landscape. When strategically planned in a way that aligns with your brand, the right illustrations deliver much more than just a visual companion to your content. They add personality and character to the message your brand delivers.

Of course, illustrations are not appropriate for every organization or scenario, and you should use illustrations in a way that’s cohesive and enhances your identity. When applied correctly, illustrations offer two advantages over conventional photos:

1. Create a Distinct Visual Experience for Your Brand

Illustrations provide a way to add character to your overall brand. The personality, color, and texture they add to a marketing piece go above and beyond what a photo or design element can provide. Each illustration is a unique and custom piece of art that has been thoughtfully composed to embody the distinct characteristics of your brand and communicate the idea at hand. The possibilities are endless with illustrations and, best of all, they are completely custom to your organization, so they are highly ownable. For an organization serving doctors or other medical professionals, a suite of clean illustrations can add a note of professionalism, trust, and humanizing compassion. Or, alternatively, more expressive and loose illustrations add welcoming warmth and whimsy to a brand.

Illustrations are available through stock websites and clip art libraries, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. If you are going to make illustration a part of your brand it needs to be consistent and custom to your needs and brand characteristics. Your organization is unique — you need to establish an illustration style for your brand and work with one or more professionals to create unique illustrations. 

2. Capture Complex or Abstract Ideas Specific to Your Needs

Stock images exist because they depict common scenarios organizations like yours need in their communications. But what if you need an image of a concept specific to your audience or a more abstract idea? You’re inevitably left with a generic photo that falls short of and looks indistinguishable from any other organization.

However, the right illustrator can capture the most esoteric concepts without being constrained by the limits of photography. For example, imagine you needed to depict loyalty or perhaps the idea of someone juggling multiple priorities. A custom illustration can cleverly capture these ideas without resorting to clichés or predictable images from a widely available and overused stock library.

Better still, an illustration allows your organization to own the images you use. It becomes part of your brand and adds to a distinctive style your audience won’t see elsewhere.

Are Illustrations Right for Your Organization?

Like any other design element, your organization can’t start arbitrarily incorporating illustrations to enhance your content. You have to first understand your brand to ensure the visuals you choose will make the right impression on your audience.

To gain a clear picture of your organization’s brand, consider who you are, what you’re trying to say, and who you are trying to reach. If illustration is the right format for your organization, you should assess what style is appropriate to communicate your brand’s characteristics and values.

The illustrations should retain a consistent style and fit your overall brand system. Your goal is for each visual to feel cohesive, and tailored specifically to your organization and members.

Incorporating the Right Illustration Style to Tell Your Story

Finding the right illustration style to suit your brand is ultimately a strategic decision. Style isn’t everything — but it goes a long way toward enhancing your brand. The following options are just a few approaches at your disposal:


If your visual presentation lacks a human element, your audience may subconsciously feel your organization is emotionally distant. Relatable depictions of characters or other figures engage your audience and open new avenues for connection. 


A less-is-more approach transforms complex ideas into the simplest, most efficient visuals. These illustrations retain the focus on their subject with clean lines and clear images.

Big & Bold

A form of minimalism, this style uses outsized representations of shapes, forms, figures, and even letters. Applying exaggerated designs and bold, colorful lines is another way to capture your audience’s attention.


Influenced by the shapes and textures from a bygone era, throwback illustrations connect with the viewer by provoking nostalgia.


Challenging the limits of two-dimensional design, 3D illustrations increase user interest by adding depth and a sense of the unexpected to environments, characters, and styles.

Cohesive Illustrations Enhance Brand Identity

Finding the right illustrator to work with your brand is an art, and you should make sure the visuals they create are flexible enough to suit your needs. When you’re working with the right agency partner, you gain access to a rolodex of illustrators and a creative professional who can translate your business needs.You don’t have to tackle it on your own. If you’re looking for a visual approach to your brand that will resonate with your members, we should talk.

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