Brand visual identity is a set of characteristics that define the look and the feel of a brand across channels. It includes these elements:
Visual identity is what makes a company’s products or services unique and recognizable among the competitors.
Through a carefully developed and coherent design, the audience comes to associate the brand with its offering and its values. It is the business’s first interaction with the consumer and it is, therefore, important that it creates a positive and lasting first impression.
What Is The Difference Between Visual Identity And Branding?
Branding and brand visual identity are sometimes used interchangeably. Though one is contained in within another, the two concepts are not exactly synonymous:
Visual identity sets the guidelines that promote consistency in a brand’s use of visual elements including logo, colors, images, fonts and more.
Branding is a strategy that refers to the process of creating a brand, from defining its values and archetypes to developing brand voice and communication strategy, visual identity, and more.
What You Need To Do Before Creating Visual Identity For Your Brand
In order to create a strong visual identity for their brand, business decision-makers should define several aspects of their business.
Doing so will shed more clarity on the process, especially, on the desired outcome and final result.
Here are the four factors that will help the creation of your brand’s visual identity.
1. Know Your Audience
Your brand’s visual identity speaks to your audience. Knowing who your audience is and all there is to know about their pain points, desires and personality can help you build a visual identity that they can relate to.
The audience research results will inform you of factors that affect their decision to use your products or services. You can also look at your competitors and their audience to investigate how they react to their offerings.
To find the right audience to message your offers to with brand visuals, define your buyer persona by analyzing their:
Income and education level
The most important thing you want to know about your target audience and consumers are their pain points: identifying their problems can inform the way you approach your solutions and, ultimately, the visual identity that represents those solutions.
2. Define Your Brand’s Purpose
Consider your business roots and think back to why you established your brand.
What purpose did you see it fulfill?
Defining or redefining your brand’s direction and long-term objectives can provide a valuable insight into the essential qualities you’d like your brand visual identity to have.
When reflecting on this, try answering these questions:
Why are you offering your services?
What are your brand’s short-term and long-term goals?
How does your brand and its solutions help the consumers?
What mission, statement and vision does your brand adhere to?
What visual elements, such as colors, imagery and typography reflect our purpose?
Certain fonts, for instance, evoke certain brand personality traits: bold, sans-serif fonts evoke the feeling of modernity and are suitable for IT corporations, while quirky handwritten fonts reflect the more personable nature of business.
3. Evoke Emotions Through A Brand Story
A brand story is a powerful tool that can help you evoke an emotional appeal with your clients and set the standard for your visuals and imagery.
It lets you connect with your target consumers in a way that is meaningful to them and beneficial to you.
Brand story communicates values, history and development of your business that is relatable to you audience as something that feels close to their experience.
To tell your brand story that will serve as a basis for your brand visual identity, try answering these questions:
What is my brand story and how does it connect with customers?
How should the clients feel after interacting with your brand and reading its story?
How can you apply your brand story and your customers’ emotional response to it to your visual identity?
Answering all three questions and, especially, the last one, should inform the direction your visual identity should pursue and the personality and emotion your designers will implement into your imagery.
4. Define Visual Brand Identity Purposes And Roles
Before setting out to develop your brand’s visual identity, you should understand that it covers a wide array of specific platforms that have different demands on terms of approach to design.
The brand’s visual identity applies and can encompass, but is not limited to:
Depending on the type of brand identity, you may want to employ different experts for different platforms.
For instance, the visual designer creates design for wearables, websites, games, movies and designs concepts, artwork and layout for digital projects.
A graphic designer is the type of expert most commonly associated with working on brand identity. They create ads, packaging, promotional displays, signage, corporate identity and other projects.
A graphic designer must possess a strong sense of concept development, in addition to communication, collaboration, research, problem-solving, and presentation skills.
What is important, however, is that various designers are all on the same page and achieve consistency in brand visual design. This is achieved through the use of a brand book or brand guidelines that define the visual standards of the brand.
What Are The Key 4 Elements Of Visual Identity For Brands?
One of the main focuses of building a brand is designing the visual elements that align with your business and convey its values and personality.
At the core of this visual identity are:
A logo is a visual representation of branding and a graphic symbol of your business and its identity.
Brand’s logo should consist of imagery that is memorable and stick into the minds of those who see it. It should also convey what your business does.
This is one of the visual identity components that can evolve as your business grows and it can contain the brand’s colors, typeface and graphic design elements.
Investing time and money in logo design ensures a professional visual presence that gives visual consistency and coherence to your business across all platforms.
A great logo identifies the business in a recognizable and memorable way in the minds of those who look at it.
2. Color Palette
For up to 90% of consumers, brand color plays a key role in their buying decisions.
The color palette should fit the emotion and message the brand wishes to convey - financial enterprises may incorporate greens and golds, while silvers, blacks and golds are suitable for brands that sell luxury items.
When coming up with a brand color, it is advisable that businesses begin with just one color and apply similar ranges of that color so the content looks consistent for different purposes and platforms.
As an element of brand visual identity, color has these roles and benefits:
It differentiates your business: Make sure to check out your competitors’ logos and the colors they use, since these are usually the brand’s primary colors. Think hard about how you can alter your colors to make your palette stand out. Also, differentiated color can command attention and cut through the visual clutter.
It identifies your business:Color can become very closely associated with your business. According to one research, color enhances brand recognition by up to 80%.
It lends both psychology and strategy to your business: Colors affect people’s moods and attitudes and have emotional implications. Brand colors can influence people’s buying behavior, although different cultures react differently to the same colors which is why your colors may need tweaking for certain markets. However, most business services are not reflexive buys and color choice is more a strategic issue in the world of service branding. It might be a better idea to choose a color that strongly differentiates your brand from others than looking for its emotional and symbolic traits.
3. Fonts And Typography
The font and the arrangement of your text affect your brand’s visual identity and the way it impacts consumers.
The best-known brands tend to keep their typography simple, but they also consider the emotions and personality every typeface conveys.
The style of typography, the line weight, the curvatures and spacing reflect and define the brand’s personality. Brand names written in uppercase sans serif fonts will provide a much different visual feel to lowercase serif or script typography.
Furthermore, sans serif fonts surrounded by white space and clean illustrations look very upscale, modern and minimalist. Pairing serif fonts with visuals that are equally traditional-looking can end up looking too stiff and characterless.
In either case, the emotions you are trying to evoke with your colors should be aligned with the style of typography
Learn more about brand typography, font personality and emotions in our article entirely devoted to fonts.
4. Photography And Imagery
Brand photography is a suite of images that represent your business and provides another element to its visual identity.
Photography should fit with the rest of your brand identity, its colors, logos and messaging. Brand photography can include photos of your business’ products, your team, workspace and other things relevant to your business.
Photography provides these benefits to your enterprise:
It makes your brand more relatable: Visual representation of yourself, your employees and your business space make consumers more likely to connect and engage with you, as well as relate to your business as they see the face behind your business.
It optimizes the first impression: It takes only 50 miliseconds for people to form a first impression, so the photography you use in your brand identity has to contribute to positive impressions and do it fast. High-quality, professional photography captures potential clients as they will understand that your business is very detail-oriented, consistent and has good aesthetics.
It increases engagement: As much as 65% of business executives say that photography and other visual elements such as illustrations and videos are key to communicating your brand story. Facebook posts with images contributed with 87% of all engagements on brands’ pages. Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images and articles with an image once every 75-100 words received double the social media shares as articles with fewer images.
Chobani proves that even a line of dairy products can have a thrilling visual identity.
The packaging began trough the use of signature green color that communicated their products’ non-GMO nature and expanded to a variety of gentle colors for yogurts, creamers, blends and drinks.
The backdrops of their packaging allow the main ingredients to pop. The use of typography and font is another successful part of their visual story, because Chobani uses a custom typeface that lends a family-friendly elegance to their items.
Chobani’s brand identity goes way beyond what they produce and onto the web sphere: their Instagram account is full of vivid illustrations and backdrops against which this brand’s products break through in a very effective manner.
The mattress startup is another enterprise that takes a visual identity of a rudimentary, everyday object and takes it to another level with a slick corporate design and content marketing strategy.
The company publishes a quarterly magazine to further bolster their product and raise visibility and awareness of its brand.
Their brand colors are the soothing beige and dark blue, that associate the night and comfort of sleep. They also use hand-drawn illustrations that enhance this feeling of cosyness on their website, social networks and products themselves.
A brand whose business is a very unique mix of selling party costumes, event inventory, swimming accessories, makeup and - ballet shoes!
With such a distinct business angle, the store has become quite popular for standing outside of any niche.
The traditional business model and the sale of items that are normally seen as slightly exclusive led them to create a visual identity that evokes a more modern market positioning.
Simple but classy brand typography, with all letters in lowercase and a family of icons that symbolize brand’s products, complement the pastel lavender and brown colors, accentuated with gold leaf effect.
A coffee roasting business that relies heavily on quirky illustrations and visual identity that provides them with a unique personality that isn’t often repeated in their niche.
Visual identity is founded in their name continues the theme of animal whimsy. The company’s color palette is very clean blue and white and the hand-written motifs expand to the brand’s merchandise.
Little Wolf’s visual identity is very simplistic but it is providing them with a signature look that gives them a distinct quality.
Why Developing A Visual Brand Identity Matters For Your Enterprise?
Brand identity and brand visuals go hand in hand and are intertwined and co-dependent.
Branding is not complete without the visual identity and the visual identity has to follow the branding guidelines to foster consistency and business credibility.
Below are the most compelling reasons why your business should develop a strong visual identity.
Better Brand Awareness And Brand Recognition
Your visual identity is your image. Your brand’s visuals are the first element that people see regarding your business.
The visual identity is important for building a strong brand and it is the key ingredient of brand awareness and recognition.
Customers remember very little verbal traits a brand has. For instance, think about brands such as McDonald’s, Nike or Apple and the first detail that comes to your mind: it’s likely ether their logos or product’s distinctive design.
Brand recognition allows users to recognize your brand’s logo, name and other visual elements and describe your brand based on that.
People that recognize your brand don’t necessarily have to be your customers. Brand awareness, however, increases the chances of successfully engaging with your audience, driving conversions and sales.
It Helps Your Target Audience Relate To Your Business
Your target audience can relate to your company more meaningfully through a visual brand identity that they find appealing and easy to understand.
A brand and its visuals are your company’s face and personality. It lends businesses a relatable, humane dimension and evokes certain emotions and opinions about the brand even before the prospects truly experience your brand.
The audience gains most of these impressions just by looking at your logo, ad campaign or package design.
It Conveys A Distinctive Feel Of Your Products/Services
Think about your brand from the perspective of a customer. It’s not what your brand is, but what your customer thinks and feels about it.
By extending their brand’s visual identity to products, businesses can convey certain feelings with the audience.
In regards to the brand’s products, visual identity can:
Provide a unique feel of your offerings
Convey the emotion you want your customers to feel when using your products
Help convince your customers that your products can solve their issues
It Creates A Sense Of Business Continuity And Brand Consistency
Presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. This consistency applies to visual identity - but this trait is important for another reason other than turnover.
As your brand evolves and grows, there will be certain elements that will support its growth, keep it grounded and familiar: brand values and visual identity.
Customers do not react positively to radical changes and you must consider this as you grow. Brand’s visuals should maintain a degree of familiarity and continuity so as not to alienate the existing customer base.
Some of your loyal consumers may be emotionally attached to your brand’s visuals as it gives them a sense of belonging.
Making a harsh break from the long-standing visual identity is a risky move, while maintaining it and staying true to its core can be rewarding in the long run.
It Differentiates Your Brand From The Competition
Unique visual standards are important for a brand that wishes to maintain a consistent visual identity and differentiate itself from the competition.
Distinctive visual identity creates an eye-catching, striking and memorable branding and effect of the same nature upon the client that encounters your brand.
Regardless of your business type or existing visual identity, you can always aim to achieve visuals that will be outstanding. This will further foster the memorability in the minds of your potential customers.
Takeaways On Brand Visual Identity
Creating a visual identity for your brand comes with multiple benefits. It is an essential part of a general branding strategy of any business and is the most immediate aspect of it that consumers get in touch with.
Brand visual identity
Boosts brand visibility and recognition
Helps your business become more relatable
Gives your products or services a distinctive feel
Creates a sense of business continuity
A great brand visual identity has to have:
No ambiguity, that is the exact interpretation of what your business is about
George Anderson is a marketing coordinator and growth hacker. Extremely passionate about new technologies, usability and UX practices that make the web a better place for everyone.