Having a consistent brand identity is a crucial part of business. You have to make sure you can market yourself properly. You have to have a design that aligns your business with the needs of your customers, something that not only reflects what you stand for but showcases the personality of your brand; personal or business.
There is a lot of confusion about branding.
If you put your business’s marketing materials in front of you, what would you see? Will there be a clear. consistent message that connects them all together? Or would you see a cluster of inconsistent imagery, color schemes, tones and fonts that do not feel like they come from the same place?
If the latter is true for you, then you do not have a brand identity.
What is Brand Identity?
Your brand identity is defined by how your audience perceives you.
I like to look at my audience as a person, a friend if you may. Instead of seeing your audience as a nameless, faceless crowd, focus on the one ideal person that you are “befriending” with your brand.
To make friends with that person, you have to influence them positively. If you share the same values, enrich their lives and are consistent, they will continue to be friends with you.
Your brand identity is defined by how your audience perceives you.
An example of a brand using visual brand identity properly is <a href=”http://www.gtbank.com/”>GTB</a>. They have excelled at developing themselves as a friendly, youthful and charming bank through their social media.
So what does this have to do with visual branding?
With visual branding, you influence your audience’s perception of you by showing the type of friend you will be.
For example, if I check out any of your social media page and it is filled with quotes it tells me that you love to be motivated and motivating others.
You can use visual clues to subject abstract ideas. Are you masculine, laid back, fun, fancy? Visual answers this question.
The colour schemes, type of font and mood of the design of your website tells me how I feel about your brand.
If the visuals that you are conveying does not match your values, it might confuse and alienate your audience.
Visual identity is more than photos. It is everything your audience can see when they look at you, all of which tell a story which re-affirms your values or take away from them.
Visual identity covers visible elements of a brand, such as color, form, and shape, which encapsulate and convey the symbolic meanings that cannot be imparted through words alone. In a broader (corporate) sense, it may include elements such as building architecture, color schemes, and dress code.
Steps To Creating a Consistent Visual Brand Identity
Do not fret though. Building your visual identity is easy to do if you are willing to put on the work. Here are 16 ways to influence how your audience perceives you. Follow these steps and you will have a better understanding of your visual brand identity.
1. Define Your Audience
This is the most important step to building your visual brand identity because it guides the others. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, you won’t know what to say.
Defining your audience is the first step to building a successful visual brand identity. If you don’t know exactly who you’re speaking to, you won’t know what to say. Think of it this way, who should want to be friends with your brand?
To get the best engagement from your online platforms, it helps to segment your target audience into smaller groups that share common characteristics.This is called creating a buyer persona. You zoom in closer on the people you want to reach by getting a better understanding of one person.
I have provided a work sheet below for you to fill to get you started.
If you’re struggling with this, think back to people who have patronized you in the past. You can also take a look at your competitor’s social media to see who is active and who responds. You can find out a lot about them by questions they ask, posts they like and retweet.
2. What Value Do You Offer?
Why did you start your business? Why would your audience buy your product? What void do you fill? Is it entertainment or advice? You should understand what your audience is looking for.
If you are into wholesale and retail of iron and steel rods, maybe your ideal customer is a civil engineer searching for quality materials to build strong houses. So, how do you present your brand in a visual way that shows you are the answer to his problem? You can develop a blog geared towards providing answers to his daily needs as an engineer.
3. How Do You Visualize Your Personality?
Ok, so you know who your audience is and what you have to offer. Now, how do you present your brand visually?
Thanks to technology, businesses are more online that offline today. Many brands, mine included, face the challenge of expressing personality without interacting face to face. Even when you post photos of your face and behind the scenes of your business, online has created a barrier.
The barrier is even stronger when you are planning on using text-only to woo your audience.
With visual representation, you can add tone to your words.
Dana’s Cakes and Bakes shows that they are a creative bakery with colourful choices. It’s hard to look at their social media page without salivating.
Play on images on your website or social media to bring out the key points of your personality.
A smart way to reach your audience is by emotion. Does your brand tell a story that will move your customers?
Gerorcare has stirred up the emotions in their customers. They provide health care for the elderly by targeting the emotions of their children.
5. Story Telling
How Often Should You Tell Your Story? Tell your story over and over again.
The way to get recognized as a brand leader is crafting the perfect story and then telling it again and again to anyone who will listen.
6. Keep It Simple
Remove everything from your visual identity that does not contribute to your brand persona. It does not need to be complicated so as not to confuse your audience.
If I stumble upon your site, will I know what you offer? Your visual branding should make sense with your identity.
7. Consistency is Key
Don’t try to mix up fonts, colours and filters. Be consistent across all social media channels so when a customer follows you on Facebook or Twitter, they get the same message as those following you on Instagram.
You should also make sure your username is consistent across all channels so customers can easily find you.
8. Do You Speak The Language?
The content you post on each social platform should be appropriate for the purpose of that platform. Example, Pinterest is for advice, DIY and helpful tips and tricks. Photos you post should be actionable. You want them to pin it to their profile or click through to your website.
Facebook and Twitter are community apps, use them to start conversations and understand the interests of your audience. Instagram is a lifestyle app but can also be used for advice, DIY and helpful tips.
9. How Do You Brand on Social Media?
Use the opportunity on social media to become human to your friends, followers, and customers. It’s important to use every square inch of real estate to perfect your persona.
10. What’s Up With Your Logo?
A lot of people over complicate the design of their logo. It has no real meaning by itself, although it is great to have. When Apptivities started out, our logo was just our brand name on a background.
As you develop your brand identity, people will start to associate your brand with your logo. Keep it simple and let the colors agree with your primary branding message.
11. What Font Are You Using?
I learn a lot about your brand based on the font you use. Fonts convey tone and are not exempt from visual branding.
Which typefaces you choose and the effect they create will frame the way you brand communicates visually.
12. Colours. Colours. Colours
Are you using the right colours? Do you know that there are psychological attachments to each colour?
The colour you use should be easily relatable and provoke certain emotions from who ever visits your social media page or website. You wouldn’t want to have a pink brand colour when your audience is mostly men.
You should stick to at most two colours for optimum visual branding of your logo, website, stationery and social media. Your social media photos can feature more than two colours but you should use the same filter for your photos to create consistency.
13. Do You Interact for Feedback?
Social media makes it easy for us to interact with our audience easily. Run photo contests on Instagram or create a group board on Pinterest and invite your followers to participate. You can use these clues to understand what your audience is interested in.
14. Use a Style Guide
Keep a library of your exact specification. Always use the same fonts, colors and image types. Using templates for your images adds to your consistency. Create a standard template to follow.
15. Unify Your Team Around Your Brand
Sometimes your team consists of you and your brother’s friend who helps out part time as a web developer but it’s never too early to define your visual brand identity and make sure everybody knows what’s up. Create a template and share it with everybody who will contribute to your visual branding.
16. Be Relatable
Your visual identity should show off how accessible you are. Your audience should feel connected to you. Try to be transparent and raw because it makes you more authentic. This draws people closer to you because they can easily identify with you.
Thankfully, You do not have to break the bank to create a visual brand identity. With tools like Canva, Desyner and Word Swag, you can come up with awesome graphics for your social media and blog.
If you have the time, you can also use WordPress to design your website but I would advice you seek a professional web designer out because of the technicality behind designing a website.
Use these steps to create a visual identity that will be embedded in the mind of your audience.
If you have more questions, shoot me an email or leave a message on the live chat requesting to speak to Nkemka and I will reply you immediately.
Are there other ways to create a visual identity not mentioned above? Please, mention them in the comment section and I will be sure to update the list with them.
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Also published on Medium.