Want to know how to cultivate a winning visual identity? Here are 7 tips for crafting a unique yet timeless visual language for your marketing campaign.
The non-verbal visual cues we use in marketing can communicate with our audience much faster and more effectively than words can.
For example, in color psychology, yellow can communicate positivity and energy, whereas blue can evoke feelings of calm or stability; using angular lines and shapes or soft, rounded ones can send very different messages about a brand’s personality; and abstract imagery can evoke a totally different response than authentic, realistic imagery. All of these choices we make about our visual identity can affect the viewer on an emotional level, and make them perceive your brand differently.
One of the most important elements of marketing a brand or business is to develop a strong, recognizable visual identity – which is made up of shapes, colors, and themes that convey specific messages to our audience. Whether you’re starting your visual identity from scratch or just brainstorming ideas, here’s some key things to consider.
Too many colors or elements happening at once is a bit like lots of people talking at the same time – it makes it harder to pick out what everyone is saying.
If you think of political slogans, they’re always simple and catchy, things like “We deserve better” or “Change, now.” Humans tend to latch onto simple designs and concepts. This doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy complicated, deep, and interesting subjects – it means that the way we refer to those things – such as words and imagery – tends to be simple.
While variety truly is the spice of life, when it comes to your marketing, you want to maintain a coherent, consistent theme. You want your brand to be instantly recognizable – if a customer sees your product packaging, they should also be able to recognize that it’s from you.
Some people call it a “vibe.” Other people call it consistent branding. For example, when you see someone wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a wood bead bracelet, you might say they have “beachy vibes.”
Your brain associates those items and that aesthetic with a particular place, activity or mindset – and your brand should have the same effect on your users. An example of this is Coca Cola, surely one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Their branding is consistent across all touch points, and instantly recognizable from the red color palette and iconic font.
While it can be super tempting to experiment with different aesthetics, fonts, and colors, for the sake of brand consistency, you should try to stick to one style across all platforms. For example, McDonald’s constantly repeats its color scheme of yellow and red across its website, logo and social media platforms.
Your website should match your Instagram, which should match your emails, which should match your products. Consistency in marketing is just one of many ecommerce growth strategies you can harness.
Just as humans have distinct voices, and authors have a recognizable way with words, your visual language should be distinct and coherent across the board. Unified communication, or UCaaS, is crucial for your visual language design success.
An example of a unique design is the Street Rebel logo pictured above.
We’ve talked about how your design language should be familiar and recognizable, but also timeless across all of your platforms. It’s definitely a juggling act. A good designer will create something that’s aesthetically pleasing, time-resistant, or unique. A great designer will create something that’s all three.
It can be very hard to create something that’s truly unique and sets you apart from the crowd – especially when competitors are quick to recreate your visual identity and repackage it as their own.
As long as you stand out from your main competitors, though, you’re golden.
This is why so many podcasters and YouTubers have a jingle at the start and end of their videos that only they have the right to use. Copyright is your friend when it comes to cementing your brand.
You want to be careful when choosing the colors for your brand. Think about not only your general color scheme, but also specific hues. The warmth of the colors you choose (how much blue vs. yellow they contain), as well as saturation and blends, are also things to consider.
You will of course want to choose colors that complement each other. You’ll also want to think about the cultural significance of your chosen colors. Marketing for the same brand can vary between cultures for exactly this reason – a color in one society might have very different connotations in another. Consider what your chosen colors are communicating about your brand – the choices you make can be pretty powerful.
Some examples of fonts that form an integral part of iconic logos.
While fonts might seem more about writing than visual language, they actually play a big role in aesthetics. For example, how would you feel if you saw a medical document written in comic sans? Or a children’s party flyer written in Times New Roman?
The fonts we opt for have particular personalities – some are fun and lighthearted, and others are conservative and serious. You should be careful with which font you choose for your visual identity, and ensure it complements your brand’s personality, tone, messaging and name.
Often, simple is better. Anything that can withstand, and that has already withstood, the test of time is likely to look good five years or more down the track.
Perhaps you and your team feel like you’ve really nailed your visual identity. However, it can pay to run it by some objective observers. Whether you do this by asking your colleagues to fill out a survey, or take to social media to get feedback from your followers, this can be a good opportunity to find out what works, and engage with your customers to find out what they like. Plus, it’s pretty much free, which can help to optimize your marketing budget.
And at the end of the day, it’s your customers’ thoughts and opinions that you care about. Are they picking up what you’re putting down? Are they digging your aesthetic choices still?
We’ve always communicated through art. Cave paintings are a testament to this. Cultures around the world have adorned themselves with tattoos, clothing, and jewelry to communicate, visually, who they are to the world.
This subject is immense, but hopefully, this article will have given you some clear tips to take away and use to curate your visual language design library and invigorate your marketing game.
Sam O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer for Affise—a Global SaaS Partner Marketing Solution. He is a growth marketing expert with a product management, partner strategy framework, and design background. Sam has a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology. Sam has also written content for Cincopa and VWO.