What to consider when creating your brand’s visual identity?
A simple guide with the most important topics to consider when building a visual identity for your brand.
What you see is precisely what you get when it comes to a brand’s visual identity. This is, at the very end, how potential customers will feel. The fact that a brand is visually unappealing will not persuade consumers to trust it; it is the company’s job to gain that trust in the first place. We often define the visual identity of a business as “what you see”.
With over 10 years of experience in the design field, I can assure you that the best brands are the ones that have a clear vision of what they are, what they do, and how they do it. So let me guide you through the most important parts to consider when building a visual identity for your brand.
But first, what does it mean to have a visual identity?
The term “visual identity” refers to all visual and graphic assets that communicate a brand’s essence and set it apart from its competitors. This implies that everything a customer may see, from the logo to the establishment’s interior design is considered part of a brand’s visual identity.
To give you an example, a coca-cola bottle without its logo is as recognizable as with it, and that shows exactly how strong a brand’s identity can be.
So, where to start creating a brand identity for your business?
Rather than the other way around, the graphics should be driven by your brand identity. It seems to reason that because your graphics are supposed to represent your personality, you should figure out what you are all about before you start designing them.
Regardless of the fact you do not need to have every aspect of your brand thought out (since brands evolve over time), you should settle on the basics of your brand strategy: what is your objective statement? What do you believe your core values to be? What is the social impact of your brand? What are the qualities of your buyer personas and who are they? Which method of communication do you prefer?
These, and a bunch of other questions, will help you view your brand as a character, and imagine what it sounds and look might like if it were a real person. When creating your visual identity, it will be much easier to determine which visual “outfits” are suitable and which are not if you conceive of your brand as a person.
Brand identity and visual identity, what’s the difference?
A company’s visual identity is closely connected to its brand identity.
On one side, a company’s brand identity is a complete depiction of everything that sets it apart from its rivals. It includes both visual and non-visual components, such as a brand voice, copy editing standards, a mission statement, fundamental values, and so on.
Visual identity, although distinct from brand identification as a whole, is a discipline that requires a different thought process and approach than the latter. Despite some overlap, the professions that are involved in each are usually different.
Brand identity is handled by marketers, whereas visual identity is handled by designers and creative directors.
In a simple way, brand identity describes who a company is on the inside, while visual identity depicts who it is to the outside world.
Now, what do you need to have a strong visual identity?
A business’s visual identity is essentially the visual language of the organization. As a result, its different components, function as building blocks from which the sender may create meaning. In this part, we will look at the many elements that come together to form a unified visual identity.
After an in-depth study of the brand, market, and competition, the strategy for the brand’s visual identity is defined and the identity elements are created accordingly.
Logo and variations:
Developing visual identity begins with the development of a logo and branding. A company’s logo is its most visible symbol, and it affects many of the design, color, and font choices that will be made as part of the visual identity in the future. Additionally, since their main goal is to distinguish the brand, identifying objects such as business cards, letterheads, and social avatars/cover images would come under this category.
As color is commonly used to identify a brand, this is one of the most important decisions in the visual identity process. This process consists of developing a color scheme with very specific colors, tones, and tints that resonate with the brand concept. Colors have the potential to evoke some of the strongest emotional responses from the audience in a short amount of time when used correctly.
Color is a powerful tool, it can bring the whole brand together. One of the best examples of the use of color as a brand asset is Tiffany & Co. Tiffany’s turquoise blue is no ordinary blue, not only it is called Tiffany Blue, this takes a huge part in the brand communication strategy. It is one of the brand’s most valuable assets.
So when it comes the time to build your brand’s color palette, take time and explore the color meaning. I often recommend reading “The Psychology of color”, by Eva Heller.
Many different types of fonts may be used, and each one has a different effect on the spectator as well as varying degrees of readability. In terms of visual identity, nothing beats a custom typeface for your brand. But if that is not possible, try to find the one that better represents the brand values. Just like any other topic, choosing a font is a really important step. Also never forget that fonts are like food and wine, they need pairing to work together, so choose a combination that’s readable and communicates the brand essence and style.
Graphic elements are visual assets designed to complement the visual identity. The graphic elements exist to provide consistency to the brand even when the logo is not present. You can walk into an Apple store without any visible logo and still know you’re in an Apple store. Graphic elements and the way they’re arranged will relate to the brand. they can range from patterns to specific designs crafted to help the brand communication.
When it comes to visual identity, designers must choose just the images that best represent the brand’s personality and, more importantly, the preferences of its customers.
People connect with people as well as naturally like to see them mirrored in the companies they purchase and support, thus images are the most relevant element to the target audience. Depending on who your images are meant to communicate to, creating guidelines around whether any stock pictures or videos used should be perceived as corporate or showcase regular people is one example of how to accomplish this.
The deliverables are where you apply all we’ve talked about so far. When designing the main deliverables focus on the brand’s fundamental values, purpose, and vision, as well as the deliverable goal. Deliverables can be stationery or any other medium of communication.
It’s everything you need upfront to start showing your brand to the world, from business cards to landing pages, a deliverable is any layout outcome you agree with the designer, therefore there isn’t a definitive list of deliverables but they will be the first branded materials you’ll work with.
Visual identity guide:
When talking about visual identity, we repeat to our clients the word consistency a lot… And there is a reason for that, each time we don’t follow a consistent path we might end up lost. Brands, like humans, can get lost when communicating, but even worst they can get unrecognizable. That is why all brands need a visual identity guide. It is where every aspect of your brand’s visual identity comes together and is explained for any future or current user of the brand. This will reinforce the design concept, the way things should be presented and represented, and ultimately keep your brand’s communication consistent.
Design for the web and digital media:
When your visual identity is created for the web, consumers have the chance to interact with it right away. Hero or website images, interface color schemes & layout, social media content, animations, symbols, buttons, and other similar elements are often used to communicate visual identity components in this context. Because digital goods are intended to be used, visual identity in this context must be unobtrusive in assisting the user in completing their task.
Tell a fascinating and engaging story:
Although graphic design is useful to visually communicate thoughts, these ideas must be combined to create a captivating story about your company’s brand. Visuals can grab attention, but stories can encourage the audience to participate.
Last but not least, try to keep things simple:
There are plenty of ideas, thoughts, and stories which may be transmitted through your brand’s visual identity. A multitude of options may be a blessing as well as a burden.
To avoid misinterpretation, it is better to focus on a single message at a time. Consumers will absorb visual information about the product or service in a couple of seconds and they will continue to seek your brand until they actively find it. So keep it simple.
Now it’s time to start working on your brand visual identity:
A well-thought and well-designed visual identity is a powerful tool for communicating a brand story and for communicating with customers. Because communication is so strong, the wrong message may have serious consequences. Understanding your own brand identity may take you on an amazing visual journey. So start shaping your brand today, take your time to explore and define the personality and strategy and start from the inside out. And let me know if you need any help!