What is visual brand identity?

No matter how great your business and messaging are, let’s face its, visuals are usually the most effective way to capture your audience’s attention and build brand recognition, provided you’re implementing these visual aspects correctly.

Visual brand identity and branding are two terms that are often confused in the process of building a brand. As simple as it gets, visual brand identity is the visual aspect of branding the business. A brand identity is the cohesive, visual look and feel of your organization.

Where as a brand isn’t solely the physical or visual elements that represent your organization. It’s also the feeling people get when interacting with your business, marketing materials, products, services, team members, and physical locations and interaction with a business. Your brand is how your audience perceives your organisation as a whole.

Visual brand identity is made up of the visible images, symbols and graphics associated with your business or organisation. These are the elements that guide customers and clients to their perceptions of your brand. These elements can include:

  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Illustration
  • Shapes
  • Typography
  • Imagery styles
  • Video style
  • And any other visuals helping to convey your brand’s message

These components make up your visual brand identity, but they are made up of more than visible qualities.The visuals represent a larger message and theme. They set the tone for your entire branding.

If you want to be a competitive and a successful company, crafting a strong brand identity is a must. When you can successfully communicate who you are, you can better communicate with people and form strong relationships with customers and build loyalty and in the long run spend less on marketing and advertising.

Why is your visual brand identity important?

From the top of your head think of a brand that you admire and consider successful. When you think of the brand do you get an array of images in your head that represent the brand? For example, logo, colours and imagery? What feeling do these images evoke? Fun? Luxury? Comfort?

If you put your brand’s marketing materials in front of yourself, what would you see?

Would you see a clear, consistent theme and message that blends together? Or would you see a mashup of confusing and inconsistent imagery, color schemes, and tones that don’t fit in the same category or feel like they come from the same place? If you said the latter, your company or organisation doesn’t have a brand identity.

A well-designed and strong brand identity helps to create a professional appearance that builds trust and credibility with your customers, which is essential to growing your business.

Ultimately, good brand identity increases your company’s value, boosts sales, and puts your business in a better financial situation. It builds trust and familiarity among your target audience. Through building trust, making strong first impressions, building customer relationships, and even executing successful campaigns, good design helps make your business more profitable.

It makes you stand out in a sea of competitors. There are a ton of online clothing stores, but who are you likely going to buy from? The most probable answer: the one that has a strong brand identity. Your brand identity tends to be on full display in the way you communicate with your potential customers, the color scheme and the rest of the visual aspects, the values you stand for, and the rest of the brand identity caboodle.

Finding your brand’s identity.

At Studio Nine we follow our process to help you identify your brand goals and mission so we can design a visual brand identity that connects  to your larger brand values. Below is a summary of our process.

1. Defining your audience

Your visual strategy really begins with understanding who your audience is. Keep in mind, the visual aspects of your brand aren’t for you. They are for your consumers, so be sure to have that in the back of your mind at all times. Before you position your brand to connect with an audience, you need a level of understanding about your audience to appeal to their needs and wants. Identifying your desired customer base makes every part of your branding process easier, not just the visual aspect of it. This step helps determine how to talk to your audience with the language and tone best relating to your buyer personas.

We use research to create multiple specific, targeted versions of your buyer personas. We consider the following:

  • What is their age, gender, job description, income, and education level?
  • What is their personality like?
  • What values, hobbies, and interests do they have?
  • What solutions are they looking for?
  • What other brands do they like?
  • What are their day to day concerns?
  • What type of lifestyle do they lead?

2. Define your mission, what is behind your brand?

Once we spend some time identifying your audience, we take some time to assess your business.

What do you offer your customers and clients? You need to consider the products and services your offer, but you also need to think about the way you provide those offerings and why.

  • Ask these questions:
  • Why do we provide these services and products?
  • How do we make their lives easier with our products or services?
  • What do we hope to change for our customer?
  • Why do we think it’s important to do this?

Finding your brand’s personality?

Brand personality is something that a brand portrays if your brand was a human being. Imagine your brand to be alive at this moment, the qualities that you give your brand, is the brand personality.

Brand personality is a set of feelings, emotions and qualities you can give a brand. It is everything that a brand lives to be.

What type of person would be a good reflection of your business? How would they talk? How would they look? If I could have any person be a spokesman for my brand, who would it be?

From there you can create a description of your brand personality. This is the tone and messaging to use across marketing channels, including social media and email.

Competitor research.

This is where we study your competitors. We find out what it is that makes them different? We analyze their social media, email marketing campaigns, events and so on. We research the following about your competitors:

  • The marketing channels they use
  • What their customers say about them
  • Their voice and tone when they communicate
  • The visuals they use and whether their visual identity is consistent or whether they even have one

The goal isn’t to copy them. The goal is to analyze competitors to understand how you can position your brand better and differently with the use of visual brand identity.

Building your brand’s visual identity.

Once we have the answers to the above questions, it’s easy to naturally star building an image of your brand and the visuals that support it.

Each business is unique and will require a different set of deliverables but your visual identity usually comprises the following;

  • Color palette. We use color psychology to pick a shade that matches your identity.
  • Typography. We choose two complementary fonts that represent your brand.
  • Imagery. We look at what type of imagery best represents your brand (i.e., Is it a landscape photo in black & white or a brightly colored animated graphic, etc.?)
  • Logo to match your new brand identity.
  • Website
  • Visual brand identity guide – list all of the elements of your brand identity in one guide that your entire team can access. This document will make sure every element of your branding follows the same consistent guidelines.

Designing a cohesive visual brand identity is a s much about research, knowledge as it is about intuition. That’s why it’s important to choose an experience graphic designer / design agency who understands your business and has a well developed process.

Keeping your brand consistent with substance, style and story.

Consistency is one of the most critical parts of your visual brand identity. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain that consistency in our evolving world of multi-channel marketing.

Unifying all of these communication channels to present a clear, concise, and consistent brand identity revolves around brand style, substance, and story.

If you’ve ever seen a Coca Cola TV commercial, you’ve likely recognised the upbeat music, and young people enjoying themselves and having fun in some beautiful part of the world together with their trademark red colour and guessed that it was advertising their drink long before the iconic logo appears at the end. That’s because Coca Cola is hugely successful with style. Consumers respond to familiarity with overwhelming positivity.

It isn’t just the visual aspects of a brand that connect with an audience, it’s the tone and attitude that speak volumes. If your visual identity is lighthearted and irreverent, but your copy relies on austere, direct statements, it can become confusing to the recipient of the message and work against your mission to build trust and comfort.

Once you’ve created a beautiful visual style and backed it up with the substance of a carefully-crafted message, consider your story.

The story behind your brand relates back to your mission. While your mission should push your organisation in a particular direction, your story should illustrate how you enact that mission in your day-to-day operations. This story should be consistent with the type of brand identity you’re trying to build.

Building on your new visual brand identity.

Once your brand has a clear visual brand identity, you can start to expand on your marketing efforts. You can implement your new brand identity into the following platforms to spread a consistent, clear message from your company.

  • Print Marketing
  • Materials
  • Store/office fit out
  • Signage
  • Menus
  • Social Media etc.

Using strong, consistent, on-brand imagery produces higher ROI for your marketing efforts, connects and resonates with customers, and creates a cohesive and memorable brand experience that makes clients remember you and come back for more.

So, if you’re working with a mashup of confusing and inconsistent imagery, it’s time to make a change and clearly set your visual brand identity!

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