Defining visual identity

brand strategy

The way you talk to your customer or client as a business can make or break your next sale opportunity. Through communication you have a great opportunity to explain (or signal) what you stand for as a business and how your products solve your customers problems.

I see many businesses with inconsistent visual messaging a lot! And, I don’t mean only on social media. I mean across the whole board.  If you imagine that a car is your business and you are the driver, and the engine is your purpose and fire in your belly (your values, mission, vision), its bonnet and the body are your website, wheels are the marketing and sales (getting you going) and the number plate is your business card. Everything underneath is your operations and day to day business. Now, overall it’s one car model, one colour, one shape, one style. Same values / spec, same mission / purpose.

So if you look at it that way, you should see that all messaging must be cohesive.

When it comes to visual communication especially, you have to have something which joins everything together. Well beyond your logo.  The idea is that when you remove the logo, your customer or client still knows that it’s you, through pictures, photography, signs and symbols.

How to define your storytelling visuals

1/ Corporate identity – colours

The easiest way to define your visuals is to go back to your corporate identity. Your graphic designer should have provided you with a colour scheme. I usually recommend to have 3 core colours and 3 additional (lighter or darker) tones, so in total a colour scheme of 6. You can start with your 3 colours as your guide for visuals.

2/ Corporate identity – typography

When it comes to fonts, you should always use your brand’s type of fonts given to you by your designer. There may be 2 font types except your logo, plus Italic for quotes. Do not take shortcuts and substitute fonts on social media or in your newsletters. Take time to find the closest match otherwise you’ll be unintentionally diluting your brand.

3/ Your values

The next step is to understand your values. As I said before you should have them (keywords) written down somewhere  or having a tagline which describes what you stand for and what you’re about as a business. Those keywords should guide you through brainstorming sessions on what visuals to put together and use across different touchpoints.

4/ Your customer

When creating visual content, you should always have your customer/client in mind. Not only visualise the person but also understand:

a/how they act, behave, live

b/ what kind of language they use

c/ what kind of storytelling content they would most likely respond to

Think about the colours, style and vibe. Do they need a lot of colourful stimulation or minimalistic, clean and clear message?

Think about what would make them stop and look.

5/ Your industry/market

Every industry or product category has defined visual identity, if you look closely. Analyse your market and see if there are patterns, symbols or specific visual elements that make the industry recognisable. Think about how you can stand out by maybe doing the opposite or doing things differently to the standard norm.

Cover: business card design for ROOM London – a luxury furniture brand translating archived prints onto considered furniture pieces

words by Karolina – Chief Storyteller