Key Visual Elements of Brand Identity
As an agency firmly rooted in brand development, we choose to define brand as “story” – a story that makes an emotional and visceral connection. So, that means the intricate web of words and what it means to the intended audience is all that matters, right? Wrong.
Although the story is the core of your brand, it’s really a mix of your values, your message, your strategy, your product offerings, and your value proposition – it’s everything. Brand is all those things – some of which are intangible in ways – that create the impressions and experiences that tell your story to your potential clients. But, to guide your audience through the story as you want it understood and embraced, you must utilize quality visuals. Yep, you have to make people to want to hear your story. This is where (good) design helps define brand.
So what are the key parts of your visual branding?
Everyone knows what a logo is. And every business – no matter how large or small – has a logo. Your logo is your business’s “face”, and is the most recognizable single element of your brand. Logos can be symbols, pictures, just words, or any combination, but they should in some way convey your company’s personality. A great logo will also tie into your story in a way that makes people say “aha!” when they get it. Your logo should be well-conceived and well-designed in order to be simultaneously modern and timeless. A good designer is key to a killer logo, but in the end remember that without a solid brand strategy, a logo is something nobody will understand or care about.
The choice of typefaces that support your brand actually say more about your brand than you think. Too many differing fonts or fonts that don’t compliment your logo convey hastiness or lack of organization, while using the same font for everything may lead people to think there is a lack of imagination. And, yes, fonts age – using certain typefaces may give the impression your company is not modern. The best rule of thumb is to choose a font family or several complimentary font families and use them consistently. That means the fonts for your brochures and business cards and signs should match as closely as possible to your website text and headlines. To be really brand consistent, your email body text – and certainly your email signature – should use the same font families. Most importantly, when deciding on typography for your brand, choose font styles that are pleasing, readable, and scale equally well when used in anything from mobile applications to billboards.
Though all these visual branding guidelines are subjective, color is probably the one piece that draws the most emotion. It’s been proven that color – and color alone – can drive a person to an outcome. With that bit of information in mind, think about how important it is to properly pair your color palette with your brand’s story, personality, and desired audience. Also, think about how you can use color to create an immediate attention-getting moment (think: Yellow Trucking Company whose corporate color is….orange!).
In this age of countless free stock photo sites, it’s easy to compile a rather large library of imagery to support your content marketing efforts. However – and this is often overlooked – it is crucial to use photos with the same look and feel. Now, this doesn’t mean that once you and your designers have decided on a style of imagery, you can’t ever change without “re-imagining” the brand, but it does mean consistency for a period of time. For example, your current brand strategy uses imagery with bold, primary colors, but your product launch features grey images with lots of cleanliness and whitespace. Can the two live in harmony? If executed properly the answer is yes. The better answer is to invest in some brand/lifestyle photos so every image your audience sees is unique to your brand. The bottom line, once again, is consistency – don’t be as concerned about how literal the imagery is in relation to your subject matter as you are with consistency of look and feel of that imagery.
You have a logo. You have a series of fonts. You have a great color palette. What else is there? Icons, shapes, styles layouts, patterns, and textures all play a supporting role in your brand identity. This is pretty easy stuff that often gets completely overlooked. Tie elements of your business card design into the Powerpoint template for company presentations and make sure all publically-facing communications are consistent (invoices, proposals, fax cover sheets, etc.). And while you’re on the brand consistency role, bring branding “inside” your company so every employee sees and understands the brand guidelines and the brand message. That means keeping all things consistent, like lobby pictures, inter-office memos or even break room announcement board pin-ups.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – proper brand development does not have to be difficult. But it does take organization, consistency, and…great design.
761 had a better feel for the branding and marketing of my company than any other firm I interviewed. Always using the freshest, sleekest, and most modern design, I have never been more happy with our image and the way our marketing conveys the message I want to deliver to the public.