Going Beyond Logos And Fonts to Get Visual Branding Right

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Defining who you are and picking out a logo might seem like all you need to do to develop your brand. You might even have a typeface and color palette that you use on your website. While this is a good start, there's a lot more that goes into visual brand than just fonts and colors.

Think of all the marketing channels you have that are being approached throughout the organization, not to mention all the touchpoints within the buyer journey. Every interaction your prospect has with your company probably has a visual element to it and they should all fit within your visual brand.

To give you a better understanding of visual brand beyond your brand assets, read through these examples of places you can develop your visual brand.

The Right Imagery

I am one of those people who watches the Super Bowl for the commercials. I also like to make a game of it and guess who the commercial is for before the end of it – which I bet you’ve done, too. You can spot an Old Spice commercial because of its bright, bold colors, unusual settings, use of a strong voiceover, and punctuating sound effects. A Lincoln commercial by contrast is very dark, features cityscapes, and has a quieter voiceover with orchestral music. You would never watch a Lincoln commercial and halfway through mistake it for an Old Spice commercial, and that is because both have a strong visual brand.

Video is a great way to communicate your brand through content, tone, editing style, and types of camera shots that work together to complement your overall brand message. Video is also a great medium to invest in right now as people spend more time online, and video can translate across multiple platforms and stand out in the endless sea of updates about soccer games and avocado toast.

The visual elements that help define your videos should be the same elements that define your product photography and advertising imagery.

Consistent User Experience

As more and more people experience products and services on screens (including mobile devices), an online experience consistent with your brand is critical. Whether a customer or lead is interacting with an app, receiving an email, or browsing a website, how they digest your content has a huge impact on how they view the brand.

When it comes to UX, you have to design with intentionality and create a consistent experience. Think about what a person’s goal is when they reach your homepage; how can you make that goal easy and clear for them? How a user moves through the website should not change once they reach a product page or checkout process. What about when someone receives an email from you? Does it look like an extension of your website, or something completely different? Your email template should obviously be a rip from your website (i.e., you don’t need a menu in an email) but the layout, imagery, and buttons should be scaled appropriately.

Physical Space

Walk into Ikea and then head on over to Restoration Hardware. Feels a little different, right? Whether you’re designing a branded space for employees or customers, it’s important to make the space match the tone of your product, service, or company.

For retailers we’re talking about visual merchandising. Every choice you make in regards to employee uniform, lighting, colors, textures, material, packaging, and presentation sends signals to your customers. And whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that Apple’s physical locations represent everything the brand stands for – innovation and clean design.

Additionally, your office should visually represent your brand. Open spaces invite collaboration. Bold, bright colors say something completely different than neutral, subdued hues. Should the furniture be uniform or eclectic? Your employees likely spend a lot of time in the office – don’t neglect it.

If you don’t sell products through a traditional storefront, tradeshows are a place where you can easily differentiate your brand through physical space. When you’re walking around the floor of a tradeshow you probably see a lot of tablecloths with logos on them and banners with images of similar-looking smiling people. Think how impactful a booth that really shows what your brand is would be amongst the crowd.

The Clarity of a Fully Developed Brand

In today’s competitive market, you can’t afford to slap your logo on something and call it a day. Just as you have multiple marketing channels and consumer touch-points, you also have multiple ways to define and showcase your visual brand. Think about what makes the medium you’re working with unique, and make visual choices to match the message you’re trying to convey.

Theresa Behrens Goodall is a Designer at marketing agency Element Three.

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