Internal communications are strategically important for every organization, and recent research published in the Public Relations Review discovered internal comms can lead to positive organizational outcomes like better employee engagement. If you want to make your internal comms more engaging, consider how to leverage design beyond a compelling headline. Here are seven ideas to get you started.
- Reduce generic stock images and source employee photos. Why use generic stock photos when your employees have authentic pictures on their devices? Sure, you will benefit from professional photography, lighting, and retouching for specific events, but for the day-to-day, ask your employees to submit their favorite photos for real-world employees-in-action images. This personalization can help employees connect with the message and put faces to names. Plus, when you credit the employee who took the photo, they will feel like a valued contributor to your corporate communications.
- Incorporate custom illustrations and infographics. Unique visuals like custom charts, illustrations, or hand-drawn elements can add a more authentic and personalized touch to your messages. Illustrations add creativity to otherwise dry material and make your communications more human. Additionally, illustrations help simplify complex topics, making it easier for all recipients to understand your message regardless of their role or technical expertise.
Interactive infographics allow employees to explore data and information in a visually engaging way. Infographics are also a great way to simplify complex information or to communicate information across cultures and languages. Before you send a textual summary of key metrics, trends, or directions, reimagine your content as an infographic. Visuals can help employees process and store information, helping them better understand and retain your messaging.
- Design characters or brand mascots. Similarly, consider introducing characters or tasteful brand mascots into your communications — something that represents your brand. When done well, corporate characters can help a company showcase its personality while conveying messages, sharing announcements, and guiding employees through important information in a friendly and engaging way.
- Use handwritten fonts, annotations, or notes. Handwritten headlines, annotations, or other aspects of your messages, such as your signature lines— when used in moderation — can add authenticity to your communications and help employees feel like the message is coming directly from a colleague rather than a corporate entity. As an extension of your brand, handwriting can make your comms feel more down-to-earth and help employees form an emotional connection with your messaging. Before you send, ensure that your handwritten elements show up when recipients view your messages on a mobile device.
- Add interactive or animated elements. Engagement and interaction go hand-in-hand. Adding a little motion and incorporating interactive elements like buttons, tabs, or sliders can encourage employees to engage with your content. Interactive design elements used thoughtfully help turn passive readers into active participants. You can use interactive features to foster dialogue, build rapport, or inspire creativity.
- Embrace negative space. Leave ample negative space around key elements to create a clean, organized look. Negative space helps direct focus and reduce visual clutter, and using short sentences, short paragraphs, and more space makes your messages easier to scan, read, and understand. You want your comms to be digestible, so make the content accessible for employees to read while they scroll.
- Experiment with color. Official brand colors are often well-defined and limited. Still, other colors — beyond brand standards — can be used for specific content pieces. It’s worth experimenting with color and color gradients to add a new dimension to your designs. Color gradients can make your communications more visually appealing without feeling overwhelming. When using color backgrounds, always ensure font color contrast is accessible to employees who are visually impaired or have color vision deficiency (1 in 12 men). According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, the visual presentation of text and images of text should have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.
To capture more attention and increase engagement, try refreshing your communications wardrobe. Your audience will notice when you change your communications design and add new art, illustrations, images, and interactive elements.