What is Key Visual and how can it help your business?


Have you noticed that sometimes advertising is not completely clear, and sometimes it is remembered for a long time from the first viewing? Key Visual is responsible for forming the necessary image of the brand.

I will tell you what it is and how to work with it.

What is Key Visual

Key Visual (KV) is the key advertising image that is broadcast to the audience. It helps people to identify the advertising brand by applying a series of positive associations.

A key image is not just one static picture. It involves several graphic elements that create a complete picture of the product or service, in the form of photos, videos, animations, collages, illustrations, etc. An excellent example is cartoon or movie posters, teasers and trailers.

An example of posters for the latest movie The Hunger Games

In these posters, the main idea is the main character and the mocking jay

Each key visual demonstrates one specific proposition. Accordingly, it has a shelf life of several weeks to several months. For example, during a promotion or sale, the company invents one image, and after it ends, depending on the subsequent strategy, it creates a new one. And it should not be confused with the logo or other brand symbols, which sometimes do not change for years.

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Key Visual task

Key Visual makes it as easy as possible to convey an idea to the end user. In addition, it is easy to remember, affects people’s emotions and allows you to establish a connection with them in this way. And it’s also a great tool for separating from competitors and developing a unique image.

At the same time, this tool is more often used by medium and large brands that spend significant money on promotion. Sometimes they can even create several key looks with the same concept but different productions. For example, Ford with a rearview camera ad. The cars are different, the characters are different, the situations and the principle of the demonstration are different.

An example of KeyVisual in the advertisement of the car manufacturer Ford

Basic principles of creating Key Visual

In order for the key image to be better remembered, it must comply with a number of principles:

  • Simplicity, comprehensibility and conciseness – the easier the advertising message is to read, the higher the probability of its assimilation by the audience.
  • Originality, because it is a great opportunity to stand out among competitors and be remembered.
  • Reflecting the essence of the advertised product or service. If this does not happen, then all communication will go to waste, and money will be spent in vain. A person simply will not understand what he “must” buy in the end.
  • Accounting for emotions and feelings of the target audience. The impact on the emotional part allows the image to take hold in the minds of the audience. Psychological connections, associative lines are created, and this is one of the shortest ways to achieve an unforgettable memory.
  • Orientation to trends. If trends are taken into account, it is possible to ensure much greater involvement of the majority of the population. It remains only to find out whether your target audience is among them.
  • Possibility of application in several mass media and on different platforms. This will allow for greater coverage.

The main thing when creating key visuals is to focus on recognition and wide use. The same image can be shown on different platforms and sites. Moreover, everything is done within the framework of one advertising campaign.

Examples of KV

A recent ad from window and door manufacturer Actual demonstrates the key image well. Looking at these illustrations, one gets the feeling that their products can become an excellent alternative to bars.

Advertisement of the manufacturer of windows and doors in Key Visual

Another good example is an ad for Crest whitening toothpaste. It immediately becomes clear – no matter what product you eat, your teeth will still remain white.

Key Visual in a toothpaste ad

I will also note the Lego ad that I liked, “Builders of the Future.” It is brilliantly shown that children playing with this company’s product in the past allegedly invented advanced products (the telephone, the light bulb and the wind farm).

Key Visual in Lego brand advertising

How to create a key image

To develop a Key Visual for a brand, you must follow these steps:

  1. SWOT analysis of the brand and its communication strategy. This step is aimed at identifying the disadvantages, as well as those opportunities that should be emphasized when creating a key image.
  2. Researching the audience and studying the strategy of competitors. Here you can conduct a full-fledged marketing research to identify more specific features of the market and demand. The target audience should also be analyzed to see what expectations and requests its representatives have.
  3. Come up with ideas for developing Key Visual. Here you should outline several options for how it will look. And then choose the most effective solution. Next, the chosen idea is thought through to the smallest detail, relevant sites where the message will be demonstrated are taken into account.
  4. Development of concepts. At this stage, the main work is done by graphic designers in cooperation with illustrators, photographers, motion designers and other visual specialists. All you have to do is check the layouts for compliance with the original idea. After that, you can also conduct focus group or A/B testing to determine the effectiveness of the chosen strategy and channels.

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Key Visual Development Tips

In order for the key images of your company to really work and bring benefits, I recommend taking into account the following:

  1. Consider different formats. The visual should show up well on all the platforms you use. Therefore, if necessary, adapt one image to different layout options – vertical, horizontal, square, etc.
  2. Do not forget about simplicity and clarity. I often come across advertisements, the meaning of which is not clear to everyone the first time. Don’t do that! Advertising should clearly show how your product or service helps, so don’t overdo it with veiled letters.
  3. Use easy-to-understand fonts. Yes, the calligraphic proposal looks very beautiful. But try to read it in 2-3 seconds – most likely you will not succeed. In order not to be verbose, think about how much time passes before you have time to look at a billboard in transport or scroll through a graphic advertisement in social networks. And you need to attract attention during this time and be remembered.
  4. Keep a common idea while assembling a composition. This is important to consider at the stage of design development. When making changes or creating multiple creatives, you need to stick to a single concept, otherwise your efforts will not bear fruit.
  5. Explain with examples. This is the best way to show how people will be able to use your product and where they will need it. And there is no need to invent non-existent situations. Take real-life cases and spin them, show how the product or service helps solve the problem.

That’s all I have. I hope you understand the essence of Key Visual and can use it effectively in advertising 😉

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