Take any number of successful companies of the previous several decades, and one thing you will find common for all of them is a distinct and recognizable visual identity. This is not just about a smart looking logo – it’s about visual brand identity and recognizability in all of their visual representations.
A business’ visual brand identity is a representation and an embodiment of a certain spirit, a little slice of lifestyle that customers and users can relate and align with. The role of visual identity in the success of a business is not quantifiable, but it should never be underestimated.
Just like a strong visual identity can contribute to the success of a business, a poorly crafted one can curtail its potential and push it into anonymity. There are numerous steps in the development of a visual presence, and each one of them leaves plenty of room to slip up. Some mistakes are greater than others, and some will even ensure that your visual branding strategy fails. Therefore, avoiding some of the pitfalls of brand identity gone wrong is the first step in the process of crafting your own brand’s visual identity. In short, if you want to get things right, don’t do these things!
Being all over the place
One of the key requirements of solid visual identity is its consistency, reflected in all the aspects of visual representation. Be it the fonts, the color palette, the logo, the imagery, or any other element of visual identity, you must decide on a relatively small number of defining features and stick to it. If you try to do too many things at once and send too many different messages, the audience will be left confused and unable to discern your defining features and thus distinguish you from countless other nameless brands. It is all about understanding who you are and who you wish to engage and entice. Once you settle on an identity you must insist on it and reaffirm it through all your visual communication. Once you settle on an identity you must insist on it and reaffirm it through all your visual communication.
As we’ve already established, building a visual brand is a multi-step process with various different aspects. Unavoidably, some aspects will take a greater focus, while other will occasionally get overlooked. Focusing too heavily on just one aspect of your visual identity can hurt its overall impact. A good logo is very important, but using it as your sole or primary visual distinction can have detrimental effects. There is a good reason why progressive curriculums dedicate a great deal of time and attention to the area of branding – it’s complicated and multifaceted, and you need to pay due attention to each of the facets. This contemporary master program in visual design, for instance, allows its students to replace top-level design studios during the course, thus enabling them to learn the secrets of branding, concept generation and integrated graphic/communication design from different sources.
There is always a wide variety of messages a business can broadcast to the public, but they are not all equally impactful and relevant. Even if they were, sending them all out at once may not be the best idea. In envisioning your brand identity, you must be determined and decisive, assured and distinct. You should not attempt to be everything, but to be unique and clear about who you are. That’s the only way people will take notice. The “less is more” approach is the golden standard of visual identity, and having a focused minimalist approach is the safest path to creating a distinct visual brand.
Even the most elegantly crafted visual identity will only take your business as far as its basic qualities warrant. Brand identity is as much about substance as it is about style, and the values you wish to reflect must be rooted into the core of your business. There is no cutting corners, and the only way for your brand identity – visual and otherwise – to engage with the public is to reinforce it in your work. This includes having a consistent message across all communication channels and not slacking on any of them, as well as engaging with your clients and customers in the manner that reflects your proclaimed values.
Trial and error is a great way of learning but it takes time and rebranding costs can be expensive. What’s even better is learning from other people’s mistakes and not repeating them. Knowing what is wrong can often make clear what is right, and applying this logic can go a long way in building a strong visual brand. Learn more by reading The 2018 Ultimate Guide To Branding.