If you put four or five pieces of your brand’s marketing materials in front of yourself, what would you see?
Would you see a clear, consistent theme and message that blends together and feels like multiple pieces of one whole? Or would you see a hodgepodge of confusing and inconsistent imagery, color schemes, and tones that don’t fit in the same category or feel like they come from the same place? If you said the latter, you have a big problem.
You don’t have a brand identity.
What Is Brand Identity?
A brand identity is the cohesive look and feel of your organization. It’s the “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers,” as defined by the American Marketing Association.
But brand identity isn’t just the physical or visual elements that represent your organization.
It’s also the feelings that people get when interacting with your business, marketing materials, products, services, team members, and physical locations.
You brand is how your audience perceives your organization as a whole. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”
It’s the lasting impression you leave on your customers and clients, and it’s shaped largely by the visual identity that you present.
What Creates a Brand’s Visual Identity?
Visual identity is made up of the visible images associated with your organization. They are the elements that guide customers and clients to their perceptions of your brand and include your:
- Imagery Styles
- Composition Styles
These elements make up your visual brand identity, but they are made up of more than visible qualities. The visuals represent a larger message and theme. They set the tone for your entire branding.
So, it’s important that you match your visual identity with the overall identity of your brand.
How to Find Your Brand’s Visual Identity
These steps will help you identify your brand goals and mission so you can connect your visual identity to your larger brand values.
1. Define Your Audience
Before you can position your brand to connect with an audience, you need to know who that audience is. Identifying who you are talking to will make every part of your branding easier.
You’ll know how to talk to your audience. You’ll uncover the language, terms, and tone you should use, and you get a clear picture of the imagery and tone that connects to the audience.
Define your audience by looking at demographics and psychographics. Don’t create a broad audience. Drill down to create one ideal customer by asking yourself:
- What is their age, gender, job description, income, and education level?
- What is their personality like? What values, hobbies, and interests do they have?
- What type of lifestyle do they live?
- What are their day to day concerns?
- What solutions are they looking for?
- What other brands do they like?
2. Define Your Brand Mission (The “Why” Behind Your Brand)
Once you spend some time digging into your audience, take some time to assess yourself.
Think about what you offer your customers and clients. You need to consider the products and services your offer, but you also need to think about the way you provide those offerings and why.
- Why do we provide these services and products?
- What do we hope to change for our customer?
- What improvements do we want to bring to their life?
- Why do we think it’s important to do this?
- What do we stand for?
3. Identify Your Brand Personality
When you have a good idea about your brand mission, identify the brand personality that matches that position.
What type of person would be a good reflection of your business? How would they talk? How would they look? A simple way to create a starting point for this imaginary brand representative is to ask yourself the question:
- If I could have any person be a spokesman for my brand, who would it be?
From there you can create a description of your brand personality.
4. Identify Your Emotional Appeal
Infusing emotion into your brand is how you connect deeply with prospects and leave a lasting memorable image in their mind
So, spend time thinking about the emotional reactions you want people to have to your brand.
- How do you want your audience to feel when they see your marketing materials?
- What emotions are triggered when your customers and clients use your products/services or interact with your brand?
- What emotions lie at the heart of your brand story?
- Does it make sense for your brand to be connected with trust, fear, guilt, competition, belonging, or some other emotional appeal?
5. Pull It Together
When you have the answers to these questions, you will start to naturally build an image of your brand and the visuals that support it. From your new knowledge, you can:
- Choose a color palette. Use color psychology to pick a shade that matches your identity.
- Choose your typography. Choose two complementary fonts that represent your brand.
- Define imagery choices. Describe what type of imagery best represents your brand (i.e., Is is a landscape photo in black, white or a brightly colored animated graphic, etc.?)
- Redesign your logo if it doesn’t match. If you uncovered a brand identity that isn’t represented by your current logo, consider a redesign.
- Create a branding guide. List all of the elements of your brand identity in one guide that your entire team can access. This document will make sure every element of your branding follows the same consistent guidelines.
Where Can You Showcase Your Brand Identity?
Once you have a clear visual brand identity, you can start to expand on your visual marketing efforts. You can implement your branding into the following platforms to spread a consistent, clear message from your organization.
- Physical Marketing Materials
- Staff Uniforms
- Store Environment & Atmosphere
- Digital Signage
- Social Media Presence
Using strong, consistent, on-brand imagery produces higher ROI for your marketing efforts, more deeply resonates with customers, and creates a cohesive and memorable brand experience that makes clients come back for more.
So, if you’re working with a hodgepodge of confusing and inconsistent visuals, it’s time to make a change and clearly set your visual brand identity.
Want more proof about the lasting impact of a strong visual identity? Check out this article on How to Use Visual Marketing to Spread and Reinforce Brand Awareness.