You’ve done it – you’ve finally started the business you’ve dreamed of for so long, and now it’s time to decide how you want to present it to the world. A logo is a natural first step in creating your company’s image. So you hire a designer, and at the end of a process end up with a logo you love.
But where do you go from there? Is it enough to slap your logo into social media profile pictures and onto your company stationary? My emphatic answer is no. Your hard-worked-for business deserves recognition, and a logo is only a piece to the puzzle – branding and visual identity encompass so much more.
First things first, what is branding?
Branding is anything that shapes how your business is viewed by your customers. Its basic purpose is to show consumers what you offer and what makes you different from your competition. It’s how you form emotional connections to create lifelong customers and communicate your values. In reality, it stretches far beyond anything purely visual – it’s also advertising copy, pricing, services, store environment, employee attitudes, communication skills, target markets, and so many more things. But seeing as I’m a graphic designer, I’ll focus on the visual aspect of branding, known as visual identity, and leave the rest to someone else.
What is visual identity?
Whether you’ve thought about it or not, your brand has a visual identity. A visual identity is, simply put, any visual aspect of your branding. Your logo is certainly an important part of this, but it also includes things such as photography, typography and fonts, patterns, icons and other graphics, color schemes, and other creative design aspects. Whether it’s an expertly created infographic or an ad thrown together using ClipArt and Microsoft Word, the visuals you put out into the world say something about your business. These things all contribute to the connections your customers make with your brand.
What are the effects of a strong visual identity?
If you think about hugely successful companies such as Coca-Cola, you can see this concept in action. Not only do you know the company’s logo, but you also can recognize its other visual branding anywhere. When you see a Coca-Cola ad, whether in print or digitally, you know it’s a Coca-Cola ad. This is no happy accident – it is the result of over 100 years of intentional and consistent branding and visual identity. The company’s use of its recognizable red color, fonts, and images of happy smiling people all point consumers to the company’s overall ‘happiness and sharing’ values that have made Coca-Cola so well-known and loved.
This is just one of many examples of the immense power that visual branding has to influence how consumers think about brands. Coca-Cola is viewed often in these positive ways because the company has established a visual identity and stuck with it. This is the basis of why thinking about your business’ visual identity is so important, beyond just your logo. It communicates what your customers can expect from you. An inconsistent visual identity can mark your business as unreliable, whereas a consistent and well-planned one will help establish it as trustworthy and dependable – no matter how striking the logo.
Tips for creating a strong visual identity for your business
Start with your clients and messaging
First, you will need to have a deep understanding of who your target market is and what you want to say to them. Moving on from there, you need to ensure that your visual branding matches the feel and tone of voice of what you want to portray to consumers, so it’s important to get that established before any design begins.
Hire a professional
Effective visual branding can be very difficult if you have no experience, so enlisting the help of a good professional agency or individual can be essential to nail down the best approach. Having the assistance of a professional will help make sure your visual identity backs up the tone of your business and message while maintaining beautiful aesthetics.
Collect ideas and examples from other companies. Take notes and save examples of what you like, and just as importantly of what you don’t like. These notes will be extremely helpful in deciding on your visual style, as well as helping any hired professional to understand your goals and desires.
Create a brand style guide
A brand style guide is a reference document that outlines how the visual aspects of your business’ branding are to be used. This document helps you to maintain consistency in your visual branding across departments and employees. The portion of a brand style guide that deals with visual identity can range from very simple to very specific, but usually include things such as:
- Logo variations & use
- Color palettes & color codes
- Use of typography
Looking for some help?
Our team here at Double Up Digital can assist you in creating a cohesive and effective visual identity for your business. Whether you’re seeking a brand new visual style or simply trying to update your current one, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our services.