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8 Visual Design Tips to Class Up Your Car Ads

There’s no denying it: we humans are visual creatures. Our methods of communication rely more on visual stimulation than ever. Just look at our social media habits.

According to a Hubspot study, Facebook photos get 53% more likes than text-based posts. Photo-based social media sites have also blown up, with Instagram garnering over 150 million users, and Pinterest capturing over 70 million. These are all indications of a visual content revolution.

There is a staggering amount of visual marketing online, and it can become overwhelming for consumers. You have just 8 seconds (according to Hubspot) to break through all of that clutter and reach your customer. That’s why you need to make your visual content interesting, engaging, and relevant. Not every car dealership has the luxury of an in-house designer, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. You can create your own visually-compelling content and integrate it into your online marketing—whether that be your website, on social media, in a blog, or email campaign. Here is an 8-pack of practical design tips for creating quality content on your own.

  1. Incorporate Colour

    Using colour in your imagery reinforces your brand identity. Add it to a simple background, to a border around your vehicle photos, or to a graph comparing fuel efficiency of different car models. Just remember to choose a colour palette that reflects your original brand colours. If you want to venture outside your standard colour palette, try to keep it minimal as a general rule by using no more than five colours.

Good use of colour background (

  1. Use Text Overlays

    Adding words to your images with text overlays is a good way to give context to an otherwise bland image. We often see this technique used in the homepage sliders of car dealership websites. It can also be effective for images in blogs and social media posts. Keep in mind that your typography should be legible and appropriate for your branding style, and complementary to your imagery.

Here’s a nice text-overlay example from Nice text-overlay example (

  1. Ensure a Logical Layout

    Whether you’re making a blog post or social media blast, it’s important to consider the layout of your visuals in relation to your text. The aim is to guide your reader through your content in a logical way. Simply put, only include images that enhance the meaning of your text, not distract or take away from it.

Here’s a logical layout example from

  1. Don’t Fear the White Space

    Yes, visual aids can be great. But it is important to avoid “visual clutter” and allow them room to breathe. You want to keep your content clear and easy for your audience to understand, which sometimes means going back to the basics and befriending the white space, the empty spaces in a design.

Here’s an example of white space done right, by White space done right (

  1. Play with Scale

    While you want to maintain consistency in your visual messaging, it’s okay to vary the size of images and to mix large images with small ones to create visual interest. Play with image composition and use larger “close-up” images to highlight areas of interest like special vehicle features.

Below, Hyundai Genesis plays with image scale to highlight different vehicle features ( Hyundai Genesis plays with image scale to highlight different vehicle features (

  1. Embrace Simplicity

    Overused phrase alert: “Less is more!” Yes, we’ve heard this a million times, but more often than not, it’s true. Don’t just throw in images without reason. Use images that help convey the point of your text, not distract from it. Your visuals should be there to serve a purpose, so keep it simple and to the point.

A good use of simplicity in visuals, from Good use of simplicity in visuals (

  1. Keep It Consistent

    Although you can have fun with your visual content, it’s important to keep it consistent with your brand image and overall communication style. In layman’s terms, all your visuals should have the same style, look and feel. Keep this in mind when incorporating colours, fonts and any other graphic elements.

Chrysler changes up colours while keeping a consistent style ( ­Chrysler changing up colours but keeping a consistent style ( 2 3

  1. Balance the Visual and Verbal

    The best content comes from the seamless combination of the visual and the verbal. If you want to really engage and stimulate your readers, keep your text concise and use relevant, useful visuals to enhance it.

Chevrolet does a good job of balancing visual and verbal elements on Chevy balancing the visual and verbal (

Put these tips into practice!

Now you’re ready to get started on creating your own images. You don’t have to be a Photoshop wizard to do this! Here are some free and easy-to-use image editing tools to help get you started:


Want a professional design team on your side? Contact Strathcom Media for more information on our custom graphic design services.

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