What is a visual identity anyway?
Working with a graphic designer is much easier when the two of you actually speak the same language! When chatting about the way your business looks, you’ll likely hear two phrases thrown around – ‘brand’ and ‘visual identity’ (or ‘branding’).
Let’s have a little chat about the difference between the two, and what makes a great visual identity (you can read that as ‘great branding’ if you want) so important for your brand.
What’s the difference between a brand and a visual identity?
Imagine ‘you’ for a second. Yes, you there, blog article reader person. You’re the sum of a whole bunch of stuff that makes you, you. The things you like, the things you don’t, your relationships, the way you treat people, the things you do in the world, and so on.
You’re a brand. A complex, living thing that does and means lots of stuff.
Now imagine your clothes. Your shoes. Your hairdo. Those are visual choices that you’ve made as part of how you represent ‘you’ to everybody else. There are lots of other, more meaningful ways you do that, too, but those are some of the visual choices.
Those visual choices, that’s your visual identity (or your branding).
See the difference? One is the thing, the other is how the thing is shown off to the world.
Cool. Now let’s chat about how you use your visual identity to help your brand and why it’s so important.
Building trust and loyalty: The hairdo of your business, the wardrobe of your brand.
Your brand needs clothes, just like you do. If your customer is looking for you in a big crowd of people, they need to know the types of clothes that your brand normally wears, so that they can spot you easier.
Plus, the more your customer feels like they know and recognise what’s in your brand’s wardrobe, the more trust it builds up with them over time.
When you spot your friend in a café because of that ugly jumper they refuse to get rid of? It’s that same sense of comfortable, friendly recognition.
And who do you wind up loyal to? Your friends.
Your brand’s visual identity is so much more than just the logo
Think of the logo as your shoes (functional, always there, matching your clothing). But it’s your entire outfit that tells the story – with the colours, the accessories and that quirky quote on your t-shirt.
Your logo is the same as the other ‘pieces’, like a font used, particular words and phrases, icons or illustrations, types of imagery. They’re all accessories and bits of clothing that build on the same narrative to create a distinctive look.
Design your brand’s perfect look, then show it off everywhere
As well as fast-tracking customers to trust and loyalty, a good visual identity reinforces everything that your brand stands for.
Those ‘brand values’ that you spent ages brainstorming? Get them off your dusty hard drive and wear them on your brand’s sleeve (or vest top – you do you!).
Your website. Presentations. Business cards. Banners, flyers and posters. The list of opportunities to show off your fancy visual identity is pretty much endless. It’s just really important that every visual touchpoint with your audience is consistently representing your brand. Ask yourself – are all my touchpoints reflecting the same values and quality that I want my brand to stand for?
A good visual identity = a stand-out superstar of a brand
Here are a few big wins you get for free when your visual identity shows off everything your brand is about (and does it at every touchpoint):
- People recognise your brand faster
- They remember it more
- They understand what you do and what you’re about more quickly
- They relate to it heavier – they’re more likely to feel like you ‘get’ them
- They trust you faster – because you look like you know what you’re doing
Is your visual identity turning off your customers?
Here’s a few quick steps to get your visual identity hitting all the sweet spots for your brand:
- Decide: have you defined your brand – do you know what it stands for?
- Review: Do you have a clear visual identity that shows off all those lovely values?
- Check: Is that identity rolled out across all your touchpoints?
- Act: Get the changes in place you need to tantalise your customers with a stunning visual identity!
Still a little confused?
No problem I’ve created the brand bible checklist for everything you need for the perfect visual identity, along with a few pointers on brand philosophy and brand experience. Download it for free now!
Decided your brand needs a make-over? No worries, that’s what I’m here for!
Knowing whether your visual identity is showing off your brand and appealing to people is tough. Especially when you’re so close to it everyday!
Don’t you wish someone had told you that fringe (thanks, 15 year-old me) wasn’t doing you any favours? Book in a chat with me for my ‘brand up-cycle’ session and we’ll rifle through the deepest, darkest parts of your brand wardrobe!