Creating great visual content on a budget is not only possible -- it's necessary if you want to stand out against the competition.

A visual workbench is a set of graphic assets -- including illustrations, icons, graphs, and other visual elements -- that you can repurpose whenever you need a new visual asset for social media, your blog, other another platform.

A strong visual workbench is like a great pitch deck. If you've got a pitch deck already, you know the drill: you want to spark the interest of potential clients, so you invest a great deal of time and effort into building that deck, which the outlines key elements of your business and explains your value proposition. It might include icons or illustrations related to your product or service offerings, or graphs that show the gains you've achieved for past clients. You probably made sure to follow your brand guidelines, or opted for a similar look and feel to your website.  

A visual workbench is much like that pitch deck. It should include key visual elements that you can repurpose again and again for different uses and contexts.

Invest in a single great workbench, and you could see huge returns. Here are five advantages of creating a visual workbench.

1. A more agile marketing team

One of the biggest bottlenecks that marketing teams face involves their access to great visual content. Visual assets for social media, blog posts, white papers, and other marketing materials can be expensive and time-consuming to create. This can delay the release of new content or force your team to create slipshod, low-quality visuals or release text-only content with no visual accompaniment at all.  

When you have a visual workbench, your marketing team instantly becomes more agile. They can pull simple icons or useful graphs from the workbench to quickly create new visual assets for a variety of purposes. Did you write a blog post about your top three most popular products? All you have to do is pull the icons associated with those three products, and you've got everything you need for a great blog header.

2. Higher-quality visual content

Another big advantage of a workbench is you don't have to settle for lower quality. If your team is creating something from scratch every time you need a new visual, that's time-consuming. Therefore, they might not have the time they need to make truly high-quality designs.

When you create your workbench, devote the time and effort to ensure all its elements are custom-made and thoughtfully designed. You'll only have to dedicate that time once. From then on, you'll know that everything you put out into the world projects that same attention to detail and devotion to quality.

3. Consistent branding

Creating visual content that has a consistent look and feel not only boosts brand recognition. It also makes your company look more professional, organized, and reliable.

So if you've got a large workbench that's all utilizing the same design style and color palette, all the marketing materials you create using that workbench will automatically have a similar look and feel. It's a great way to build a brand that's instantly recognizable, even when your visual assets don't include your company logo.

Alternatively, if you're launching a particular marketing campaign, it makes sense to create a workbench just for that campaign. That way, you'll have a campaign-specific look and feel that will stand out in a careful, controlled way from your company-wide brand guidelines.

4. Lower costs

When you're not designing everything from scratch, you're saving money. So invest the time and money into creating one great visual workbench, and you'll actually spend less on visual content in the long run.

Just make sure to make minor changes to your assets for different contexts. This avoids overuse, and prevents your workbench from becoming stale. Such changes could be as simple as altering the color palette. You might change an illustrated figure from male to female, alter the type of shirt the character is wearing, or put a different object in her hand. These small shifts are still much quicker than creating something entirely new, every time.

5. More engagement

Today's consumers know how to differentiate the good visuals from the bad, and they won't interact with or share bad content. If your marketing team is always scrambling to create enough visuals and often settling for less, you won't get the engagement you're looking for.

Higher-quality visuals don't just translate to better engagement -- they'll boost your conversions. That means more customers, increased revenue, and faster business growth.

It's easy to see, then, how a great visual workbench can offer huge returns for your marketing efforts, and for your business as a whole. Invest in a visual workbench today to make 2019 one of your best years yet.