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Mapping the Visual Marketing Landscape

The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is still alive and true. Increasingly, companies are turning to visual marketing to establish their brands and spread the word. But producing these eye-catching designs and images aren’t as simple as you would think, so it’s no wonder that visual marketing companies have been growing.

New companies and platforms that make design more accessible to people who aren’t designers are rising. These platforms are helping individuals build images using only a set of templates, images and fonts — avoiding the costly step of investing in designers.

Here are some brands that have made a splash in the visual marketing landscape and the money they’re attracting from some of the top VCs in the world:

Canva (July 2014)
Venture capital raised: $6.8m

What it is: Canva’s free online design tool allows users to build Facebook images, flyers, posters, and more by simply searching for images and dragging and dropping them into templates. Premium images cost only $1. It also has an image editing tool and a collaboration feature that allows you to easily share designs with colleagues.

Highlights: The Australia-based company recently reached 2 million users on their platform in just 18 months. Their product has created over 18 million designs since its inception.

Chute (2013)
Venture capital raised: nearly $10m

What it is: Chute provides consumer insights and trends and social analytics giving the user access to important audience data and key influencers. It also has a platform that streamlines the ideation, production, and amplification of visual media with a workflow creator, library of images and publishing tool.

Highlights: A Y Combinator alumnus, Chute launched Chute Ads in 2013, which allows companies to create interactive ads with easy-to-change creative.

Visage (Nov 2014)
Venture capital raised: $2.1m

What it is: Visage is a platform for creating visual content such as infographics, charts and graphs. It aims to cut out both the cost, but more importantly, the time invested in building designs so users can create visuals for timely content.

Highlights: It’s still in its beta version, but already boasting clients like Google, Mercer and LinkedIn.

Piqora (April 2014)
Venture capital raised: $11.2m

What it is: Piqora is focused on visual marketing via the image-heavy social media powerhouses, Instagram, Tumblr and Pintrest. Their visual marketing suite includes a photo editor, automated pin recommendations, analytics of how your posts are performing, a collaboration tool and a scheduler.

Highlights: The photo-sharing social media marketplace has uniquely high engagement rates, and Piqora has made it easy for businesses to target this audience. Currently working with over 300 brands such as Crate & Barrel, AMC and Etsy.

Visually (Latest round March 2015)
Venture capital raised: $15.7m

What it is: Visually provides on demand content creation such as ebook, infographics, videos and presentations. Rather than designing through automated tools, users create a project and are connected with a team of designers, writers, producers and analysts to build the content.

Highlights: On top of raising more than $15 million in funding, Visually touts clients like Visa, Huffington Post and Twitter.

The Future of Visual Marketing

Marketing as a whole is going in a visual direction with the growing popularity of photo-based social media like Pintrest and Tumblr. Companies are leaning towards creating marketing memes, original video content and hyper-personalized advertising that’s sticky and socially sharable.

Some trends we’ll be seeing is micro targeting that speaks directly to the consumer on a more personal level, emphasis on mobile marketing and real-time marketing that jumps on news and trends (some user-generated via tools like Periscope and Meerkat). To make their message stand out in the saturated marketplace, companies will naturally put even more weight on visual storytelling to make their story more eye-catching and easier to digest.