“Branding is not merely about differentiating products; it is about striking emotional chords with consumers. It is about cultivating identity, attachment, and trust to inspire customer loyalty."– Professor Nirmalya Kumar, London Business School Cultivating identity... what does that mean, exactly? Your visual identity is the face of your brand. It's how customers will recognize and remember you. Think about some of the most well-known brands in the world. Coca-Cola. McDonald's. Nike. They all have strong visual identities that are immediately recognizable. Your visual identity should be more than just a logo. It should also be a cohesive system of visual elements that work together to create a consistent look and feel for your brand. This can include everything from your color palette and typography to your iconography and photography style. Developing strong visual branding is essential for any business, big or small. It adds depth and dimension to your image to stand out from the competition, it's the hook that entangles others in joining your tribe, and it boosts your bottom line. So how do we go about constructing a visual identity? In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about visual identity and how to build one for your own business.
Brand Visual Identity 101
A brand's visual identity is the collection of visual elements that represent the brand and help to communicate its message. This can include things like the brand's logo, color palette, typography, and overall visual style. A strong visual identity can help a brand to stand out from the competition and build recognition with its target audience. This recognition is successful when a visual identity is well-designed and used consistently across all of the brand's touchpoints, from its website to its physical products. When a visual identity is strong, it is easily remembered and associated with positive feelings, which can lead to strong customer loyalty.
Visual Identity vs. Brand Identity
Visual identity and brand identity might sound like the same thing, but they are actually quite different. Both are important concepts in the world of marketing and design, and both help create a unique and recognizable image for a company or product. Visual identity is the visual aspects of a brand, such as its logo, color scheme, and overall look and feel. Brand identity (or brand image) on the other hand, is the totality of a brand's meaning, including its values, personality, and positioning. While visual identity is important in creating a strong and recognizable brand, it's only one part of the puzzle. A truly successful brand must also have a well-defined brand identity that resonates with its target audience. Only then can a visual identity effectively communicate the essence of a brand. Does your visual and branding identity need a refresh? At Wizard of Ads®, we help brands find their voice and build a visual identity that accurately reflects their brand message. We believe in the power of branding and its ability to build trust, create loyalty, and drive growth. If you're interested in learning more about how we can help you build a strong visual identity for your brand, book a call with us today.
Visual Images vs. Mental Images
Humans are constantly bombarded with visual images. Everywhere we look, there are pictures, paintings, photographs, and other visuals vying for our attention. And while these images can be eye-catching and sometimes even memorable, they don't always have the same impact as mental images. Mental images are those that we create in our own minds, often based on our experiences or imagination. Unlike visual images, mental images are not constrained by the laws of physics or what we can see with our eyes. This means that they can be much more vivid and detailed than any visual image could ever be. For example, what comes to mind when you think of the word, "home?" Maybe you start imagining your childhood home, complete with the smell of your mother's cooking and the sound of your father's voice. Or, maybe you think of your current home and all the happy memories you've made there with your family. Either way, what you're really doing is creating a mental image based on your personal experiences. Good branding goes beyond visual imagery and creates those mental images for its customers, so that they think of the company not just when they see its logo, but also when they think of the values and feelings that the company represents.
The Primary Goals of Visual Identity
Your visual identity needs to check a lot of boxes, but three primary goals need to be prioritized over everything else. For your visual identity to truly come through to your audience, you need to:
- Have an emotional impact on the target audience: Laugh, cry, or make ‘em angry, you need to evoke some kind of feeling in your audience. This will help them connect with your brand on a deeper level and remember your visuals when they see them again.
- Educate visitors about the nature of the brand and the services/products offered: A good visual identity will give people a general understanding of what your brand is all about just by looking at it.
- Integrate many areas of a business through uniform and effective graphics: Everything from Printed Materials and Advertisements to Websites and Social Media should maintain a consistent look that accurately represents the brand.
When you can follow these simple guidelines, you will no doubt have a powerful and persuasive visual identity that will take your brand to the next level.
What Constitutes Visual Identity?
When it comes to establishing a seamless visual identity system, three main elements are integral to the process: consistency, frequency, and anchoring.
Consistency is key when building your visual identity. It allows your brand to be easily recognized and remembered by your target audience. By using the same colors, fonts, imagery, and overall design across all your marketing materials, you create a strong brand image that will shine through no matter where your customers encounter your business. The easiest way to maintain consistency is to create a brand style guide. This document should include guidelines for all elements of your visual identity, from the colors and fonts you use to the overall tone and feel of your materials. With a style guide, you can ensure that everyone who is creating content for your business is on the same page and using the same standards. This will help you create a cohesive visual identity that will make your brand easily recognizable.
The more often people see your logo, the more they'll begin to recognize and associate it with your brand. That's why it's important to use your logo consistently across all of your marketing materials, from your website to your business cards to your social media profiles. You also want to do this with your content, advertisements, and any other collateral. If you frequently showcase your brand, your audience will begin to remember it. “Great brands rely heavily on a very specific minimum frequency to ensure their brand embeds into their target audience’s long-term memory.” Think about how many times you see the Target logo or the Starbucks Mermaid. You don't even have to think about it — you just see them and automatically think of the respective brands. That's the power of frequency.
Combining the previous two facets, anchoring involves creating a consistent look and feel across all touchpoints, from your website and social media presence to marketing materials and product packaging. By establishing a cohesive design scheme, you can help customers easily recognize your brand and what it stands for. Plus, it makes your business appear more professional and trustworthy. For example, say you want your brand to exude luxury. In that case, you might use high-end fonts and images, as well as a sleek and sophisticated color palette. On the other hand, if you want to come across as more approachable, you might choose friendlier fonts and colors, along with down-to-earth imagery. The key is to be intentional about your design choices and make sure they reflect the overall tone you want to set for your brand.
Create Your Brand’s Visual Identity
Developing the visual identity of your brand is hard work. It takes a lot of time, effort, and thought to create unique brands that are memorable and authentic. However, we've made your life much easier because we've provided you with six tips and steps that you can follow to create your brand’s visual identity.
Understand your target market
To create a visual identity for your brand, you need to first be able to understand your target market. Who are they? What do they like? What do they want to see from your brand? You can also learn more about who your target market is by doing some market research. This can be through surveys, interviews, or even just informal conversations with people who you think would be potential customers. Once you have a good understanding of your target market, you can begin to create a visual identity that will appeal to them. This can include things like choosing the right colors and fonts, as well as creating a logo that reflects the values of your brand.
Establish your brand's image
There are a few key elements that go into establishing your brand's image. These include your brand's name, logo, color palette, and overall aesthetic. To determine these elements, ask yourself what you want your brand to communicate to its audience. What are your core values? What feeling do you want your brand to evoke? Answering these questions will help you zero in on the right elements for your brand. Once you have these things in place, you can begin to create a consistent visual identity for your brand across all of your marketing materials. This will help people to easily recognize your brand and what it stands for, which can ultimately lead to more sales and loyal customers.
Make a story
Your brand story is the foundation of your visual identity. It's the Why behind your business, and it's what will connect you to your audience on a deeper level. To create a strong visual identity, you need to start with a strong story. Here are some tips for crafting an effective brand story:
- Keep it simple. A good brand story is concise and to the point. It should be easy for your audience to understand and remember.
- Make it relatable. Relatable stories are more likely to resonate with your audience. Find ways to connect your story to your audience's experiences and feelings.
- Evoke emotion. A good story evokes emotion in the reader or listener. This emotional connection is what will make your story memorable and effective.
By following these tips, you can create a brand story that will help you connect with your audience and build a strong visual identity for your business.
Identify the feelings you wish to evoke
Not only does your brand story need to pull at the heartstrings of your audience, but so does your visual identity. How does your brand image make your customers feel? Do you want to evoke feelings of happiness, trustworthiness, or sophistication? When thinking about the feeling you want your visual identity to convey, consider both the literal meaning of color and the more metaphorical associations we make with different shades. For example, blue often signifies trustworthiness and loyalty while green is often seen as peaceful and calming. Of course, these are just generalizations and there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating a unique visual identity for your brand. The important thing is that you take the time to think about what feeling you want your brand to evoke before diving into the design process. Doing so will help ensure that your final product is a true reflection of your company's values and mission.
Match product or services
Your brand's visual identity should be an accurate reflection of what your business offers. If you're a fun and trendy company, your products and services should reflect that. For instance, you might use bright colors, have an unconventional logo, or use edgy marketing materials. On the other hand, if you're a more traditional business, your products and services should have a classic and subdued feel. This might mean using a neutral color scheme, a simple logo, and clean design elements. We all know the famous packaging of Tiffany & Co. – it's simple, clean, and elegant. This reflects the company's upscale and classic image and ingrains in the minds of its customers what they can expect from the brand.
If you haven't heard it enough already, consistency is key when it comes to branding. Choosing and sticking to specific colors, fonts, and other design elements will help create a strong visual identity for your brand. While it may be tempting to constantly switch things up or try out new trends, resist the urge! A consistent brand is a recognizable brand. And a recognizable brand is a successful brand. To check your brand's consistency, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do all of my marketing materials use the same colors, fonts, and overall design?
- Do I have a style guide that outlines my brand's specific design elements?
- Are there any inconsistencies in my branding across different channels (e.g., social media, website, Google Business Profile, print collateral)?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, it's time to get consistent!
Create Your Tribe
So, what's your brand’s visual identity? Playful? Quirky? Unique? At Wizard of Ads®, we believe in embracing these qualities and helping you bring them to life in a way that dazzles the eyes (and minds) of your customers. Quirks and taste, oddness and flaws, these are the very essence of branding. They are the feathers and robes of your tribe, so wear them with pride! Are you ready to take your visual branding to the next level? Let us know and book a call with us today – we can't wait to help you create a tribe of fans who love your brand just the way it is!