What is Brand Visual Identity and How Can You Build Yours?

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A brand’s visual identity carries a lot of clout. A visually attractive brand has the power to intrigue and entice. But a company with unappealing visuals, dreary colours or a dodgy logo can make customers turn away at the drop of a hat.

You see, us humans are a visual, fickle bunch. We can decide whether we like or dislike the look of something in a matter of seconds. When time is up against them in this way, a brand’s visual identity needs to stand out, persuade and speak to an audience on an emotional level from the first glance.

Along with a few choice insights from Banc’s Creative Lead, Niki, we’ll lift visual identity up to the light and look at why it matters, as well as how you can get started creating a visual identity that’ll speak to your customers the right way.     

What is brand visual identity?

A brand’s visual identity is a collection of visual elements that represent a brand and make it stand out from competitors. Think of them as a wardrobe of clothes that a brand wears to alter their appearance.

And just like clothes being an extension of a person’s personality and character, a visual identity is an extension of a brand’s values, products and services. “A good visual identity relays the brand’s core brand values and tone of voice throughout the customer experience,” says Niki. “It influences a customer’s opinion of the brand on an emotional level.”

Done right, an effective visual identity will use logos, colours, typography and images to project a brand’s personality that customers will immediately recognise and associate with you.

team meeting

The melting pot of a brand’s visual identity contains these four primary ingredients:

  • Logo: Your brand’s calling card; an instant identifier that embodies the brand. Whether it’s a wordmark, a lettermark or a monogram, your visual identity should include a logo lockup. This is the final form of your logo with all its elements placed together in various set positions which you can adapt to various contexts.  
  • Colours: A colour palette of specific hues and shades can create a powerful emotional response from an audience, so they should be chosen wisely. Yellow might leap off the screen, but copy could get lost in such an eye-catching colour. Elsewhere, red signifies danger – something you probably won’t want your brand to be associated with. Whatever you go for, be sure to have Pantone, CMYK and HEX references for printing and digital purposes.
  • Typography: Back in 2010, Kanye West tweeted “Sometimes I get emotional over fonts”. And if you’re typeface nerds like we are, then you’ll know exactly what got ‘Ye in such a quandary.

Typography can say a lot about your brand. It evokes mood, sets the tone and fosters recognition, so getting it right is vital. At the same time, your chosen typography must be accessible, versatile and functional. A fancy font is no good if your audience can’t read it.

  • Images: Photography can be highly emotive, and depending on the content of the image, can add a human element that’s great for connecting with customers. Images and videos can strengthen your visual identity in a big way, keeping things consistent and identifiable wherever it sits on site.

But even if it’s just product photos you’re relying on, high-quality, well-composed photography will reflect strongly on the brand, so it’s well worth taking the time to make sure your products are shown in the best light.

colleagues reviewing notes from creative meeting

Why is brand visual identity important?

It sets you apart from your competition

Niki says: “Your visual identity is the target audience’s first point of contact with a brand, so first impressions matter. A unique and memorable visual identity is what makes you different from other brands. And in the mind of consumer, different is memorable.”

It enhances brand recognition

When consumers can recognise a brand based on its aesthetics alone, then the visual identity is doing what it’s supposed to. And since it’s the first element that people see in a business, something powerful stands a better chance of driving conversions and sales.

It increases trust in your brand

A considered, appealing visual identity won’t go unnoticed. Visual elements have a knack for establishing credibility, giving a brand an air of authority that has a powerful effect on customers, and goes a long way towards building valuable relationships with your audience.  

creative designer working at her desk

It creates consistency

For some consumers, consistency provides a comforting familiarity. It allows them to recognise your products, creates an emotional attachment and, ideally, makes it easier for them to choose you over others. Support the customer experience by keeping your visual identity consistent across all your assets.

How to create your own brand visual identity

Get to know your audience

Without understanding who your audience is, creating a visual identity is going to be difficult. “It’s the most important aspect of building a visual identity,” notes Niki. Sans context, you may end up designing something that is completely out of sync with your audience’s beliefs and attitudes.

Get to know your target market by drilling down into their age, gender, income, education, lifestyle and values. Once these things become clear, it’s far easier to know who you’ll be talking to.

From here you can begin to create a visual identity that’s going to resonate with your audience. “Flea treatment provider Itchpet are a great example of this,” Niki says, “they use humour and fun visuals to humanise pets. In isolation, it’s an appealing look, but it shows they know and understand their audience as an affluent, image-savvy and tech-aware bunch.”

colleagues discussing creative ideas

Understand your brand’s purpose

Why did you build your brand in the first place? What were you hoping to achieve with it? What is its short and long-term goals? Answering these kinds of questions can energise the process, providing valuable insights that give your brand’s visual identity a real sense of direction.

Tell a story

Who doesn’t love a good story? By attaching a tale to your business, you can connect with your customers and evoke certain emotions which you can then apply to your visual identity.

Along with its history and evolution, a brand story can also clue in your customers to the values you hold dear, allowing them to relate to you in a more meaningful way.

“Look at Brewdog”, Niki says. “Their visual communications are ballsy, anti-establishment and boundary-pushing. That disruptive, rebellious side of the brand appeals to their target audience in a big way.”

Formalise your identity

Depending on your business, you’ll be designing everything from ads and packaging to websites and brochures. Each of these mediums comes with its own subtle differences, which will inform their design.

Although different designers will be working on these assets, they need to be on the same page regarding the use of your visual identity. A brand book or brand guidelines will set the visual standards of your brand, providing information on everything from logo design across different mediums to the right colours to use at the design stage.

Struggling to link your brand’s values with its visuals? Our branding specialists can help with that, combining their skills to create a visual language that nails first impressions – and beyond. For more information, head to our Branding page or call us today on 0345 459 0558.

Avatar for Oliver Urwin
Oliver Urwin
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