With such a saturated marketplace, brands need to win customers over in an instant.
Companies that can do this through creative messages are more likely to fare better. But only those brands that have a strong visual branding that unites all these visual elements are the ones that will succeed.
But what exactly is visual branding? Why is it so important in business? In this article, we’ll discuss the concept and how exactly it can help your business.
What is visual branding?
Visual branding unites all your visual components together so you can convey your brand message in just seconds. When you have strong visual branding, your overall look becomes unique to your business brand. That resulting brand identity allows you to have an emotional connection with your audience.
Establishing that emotional connection is very important. If a brand can stoke customer emotions, it can drive profitability. According to Harvard Business Review, fully emotionally connected consumers are 52% more valuable. That means they make more purchases and use that brand’s product more.
Strong visual branding can get your brand message and values across immediately. When a consumer sees your logo, packaging, and all your other marketing collateral, they’ll know exactly what you stand for, associate themselves with those values, and will be moved to action.
5 visual branding elements
There are five visual branding elements you need to get right to ensure good visual branding. Here we look at each of these in detail.
Your logo is the ultimate face of your brand. It’s often the first thing a person sees that is associated with you. That’s why you need one that’ll make a lasting impression. Your logo should also be easily identifiable.
Nike has one of the most basic logos (it’s just a swoosh!) but it’s universally acknowledged and recognizable. So,how did Nike get to that point? Well, apart from the fact that its visual branding strategy was on point, it chose the right logo in the first place. The Nike logo stands for everything the brand represents: speed, movement, quality.
When choosing a logo, then, pick something that signifies who you are. That presupposes you already know who you are. Your brand identity, in short, should already be clear to you.
Are you a fun brand that values dynamism? Or are you the more serious brand that values luxury? It helps to go back to your mission and vision to determine the answers to those questions.
Finding the right logo for your business is critical. Don’t just draw a mark without thinking and declare it as that symbol for your brand. To pick the right logo, you need to undergo that long process of self-discovery as a brand and as a business first. You may need to go through various stages of brainstorming and designing before settling in on the right logo. It is a long process that may involve several teams. Pro tip: Stay on top of the process with a scheduling software that will help your team be better organized.
Typography refers to the arrangement of letters on a page. It involves the process of selecting typefaces, line spaces, point sizes and line lengths. The goal should be to make the marketing message understandable to the reader.
Just to illustrate the importance of typography,check out this image:
Can you understand the text? Probably not. That’s because whoever wrote those things didn’t take typography into account.
As a business, if you want your audience to connect with your brand emotionally, you need to make sure your audience understands your message in the first place. So, there should be enough spaces between letters and lines.
Font pairing is just as important. It involves choosing fonts that are contrasting but complement each other. Sounds contradictory? Well, yeah, but it really isn’t. Let me illustrate:
The League Spartan font has a strong geometric form. Libre Baskerville, on the other hand, exudes elegance. In theory, they contradict each other. But do they really when you look at the picture above? I’m sure you’d answer no.
There’s no hard and fast rule for determining which typography is the best for your business. For instance, typeface-wise, experts say Sans Serif is the most understandable typeface on a screen. On print, they say it’s Serif.
But that’s just what they say. Really, the best way is to experiment with the different elements of typography to determine which combination works. Once you have your different combinations, ask other people which one effectively gets your business message across.
Your chosen typography should also reflect who you are as a brand. If there’s a contradiction between your message and how your message looks, your viewers will only get confused. Check out the third and fifth lines in this image:
Both the typefaces are the “serious” type. So, when you use those to say “this is not serious,” it’s like you’re saying it is but it isn’t. Confusing, right?
Pampers is a great example of a brand that understands the importance of choosing typography that reflects a brand’s personality.
The smooth-edged typeface exudes cuteness and fluffiness. When you top everything off with a heart, you’re basically screaming you stand for everything related to children.
3. Color palette
Color is everything when it comes to visual branding!
The color palette you use can say so much about your business. So, it should never be chosen in haste. Viewers can take many messages from the colors you use to promote your brand. For example, yellow suggests warmth while blue is calming. There’s such a thing as color science.
You may choose more than one color for your marketing collateral. In fact, businesses usually use two to three. To know if they will look good together, just use the color wheel.
Colors that are directly opposite each other (green and red, for instance) are complementary colors. These are high-contrast so they’re generally not great for text. You can use them, however, to make your call to action stand out. Here’s an example from Ahrefs:
For general text, aim for analogous colors or colors that are beside each other. Analogous colors look pleasing to the eye.
Whatever color palette you use, make sure to test it over several mediums. Check out different combinations with an AB test, too.
4. Graphic elements
There are many graphic elements you can include in your marketing collateral. Lines and shapes are the most common.
Depending on how you use them, you can do at least one of three things:
- Tell the viewer the most important information
- Separate information
- Add visual appeal
Lines and shapes can also be strategically used in logos. Check out the image below:
Notice how the lines guide your eyes to the most important part of the logo, the brand name?
That’s everything you need to know about graphic elements. Before you incorporate them into your branding, determine what you want to achieve so you’ll know exactly the type to use. Is it a straight line? A diagonal one? Will it be a circle? Or a square?
Even if the lines or shapes are just there to add visual appeal, they should still stand for something related to your brand.
Notice the lines in the IBM logo aren’t really there to guide your vision or separate pieces of information. But even if they’re just there to add visual appeal to the logo, they actually represent something: speed and innovation. Those are values IBM stands for.
A picture speaks a thousand words. Including imagery can also get your viewer’s attention.
The imagery you use needs to be consistent with your brand identity as well. If you portray yourself as a fun brand, for instance, use fun images, not serious-looking ones. If you’re a more “serious” brand, use serious-looking images, too.
Check out these examples from two brands that sell clothing. Without clicking on the source, can you guess which ones are from Forever21 and which ones are from Gucci?
You guessed right! The top images are from Gucci while the ones below are from Forever21. The types of images gave the answer away. Gucci is a luxury brand, which explains the serious expressions of its models. Forever21 caters more to the younger generation. Hence, the “fun” expressions on its models.
The imagery you choose should also be consistent across a single marketing platform and multiple ones. Check out this example from Ikea:
Ikea’s images on its Instagram account are immediately identifiable because they keep to the same style throughout.
Visual branding is critical to your business’ success. Without it, you can’t possibly make that emotional connection with consumers. You need that connection to ensure profitability.
In this article, I shared with you visual branding elements you should get right to ensure that strong visual branding. Make sure these elements reflect who you are. Be strategic in using them, too.
Once you have your final look, use it consistently across your marketing platforms. You’ll get viewers to associate that look with you. The result is strong visual branding that will get you ahead of your competitors.