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What’s In A Brand? Understanding Your Company’s Visual Identity

A brand is a combination of a number of elements. It’s a feeling. It’s a character. Its what people will relate to and remember about your business. It’s a logo. The artwork, colour palette, and typeface. It’s also a personality. Your company may be rugged, or sincere, or sophisticated. It’s a reflection of your target market.

When we look at a brand, we see their logo, colour palette, and artwork. But what we don’t see is all the analysis that goes into developing the brand. Now I’m not going to get into all of that in this post but I will write another post covering those topics. When creating a brand, you need to look at your competitors and substitute products, your positioning, and your unique selling proposition. Consider completing the follow analyses:

  • Target Market Analysis

  • Competitive Positioning Analysis

  • Art Strategy Analysis

Once you’ve determine where you want to fit in the market and who you are going to be, you can use this information to create the visual identity of the brand.

Visual Identity Elements

1. Colour Palette

Colour is extremely important to any brand. According to a 2006 study in the journal Management Decision, people can make 62% to 90% of their snap decisions about products based on colour alone. Meaning the colours you choose to represent the company should reflect your brand positioning and brand personality. Are you a luxury brand? If so, blacks, golds, silvers, and purples are good colours. Do you want to reflect competence and stability? Then blue is a good colour.

When picking your colour palette do some reading on colour psychology. Figure out your positioning and personality and also select colours that work well together. Many people don’t realize how much we are subconsciously impacted by colour in our daily lives, so the wrong colour choice can really send the wrong message to your customers. The good news is there’s lots of information available to help you pick your colour palette. Also consider looking at brands you aspire to be and which colours they chose.

No matter what palette you chose, always make you sure you create a black and a white version of the logo. This is a must have for when placing the logo on a colourful background.

2. Typeface (Font)

Typeface isn’t about the company name or the slogan. It’s the scale, font, and arrangement of your text that form your visual identity. Think a serif vs. sans-serif font or bolded vs. italicized typeface. This has a bigger impact on a brand than most realize. In 2009, Tropicana changed their branding (the font rather dramatically) and saw a huge decline in sales.

Two months after this rebrand, sales dropped by 20%, which represented a loss of 30 million dollars for Tropicana. Now, a lot went wrong in this case. It was more than just the font or typeface but it does illustrate how much of an impact it can have on the consumer.

3. Artwork

What kind of imagery do you want your brand to convey? What suits your brand? In some cases, it’s a symbol – think Nike, Mercedes, and Pepsi. In other cases, there is no distinct artwork. It’s just the company name, in a certain font, with the brand’s colour palette – think FedEx and Coca-Cola. If you choose to add artwork with your logo, remember to keep the design relatively simple. Simplicity is on trend right now and it makes it much easier to display the artwork on different digital platforms.

4. Logo

Each of these elements come together to make up a company’s logo. To have a strong, impactful logo, make sure these elements are cohesive and tell one brand story. Once you’ve settled on a logo, it’s important to realize that your logo will have to change over the years. Think of it in a good way – that means your company will have stood the test of time.

5. Bonus: Slogan

Now a slogan isn’t part of the visual identity of the brand but it’s important to think about it as you create the visual elements.

Your company’s slogan is probably not at the top of your priority list when starting a new business. I get it. It’s something I didn’t used to consider either but it can be really important in establishing unaided brand recall. For example, if you hear “I’m lovin’ it,” is your first thought McDonalds? Mine is. Or maybe when you hear the phrase “Maybe she’s born with it,” you find yourself saying “Maybe it’s Maybelline.” A few of my favourite slogans are below:

  • Apple – “Think Different”

  • Subway – “Eat Fresh”

  • Kit Kat – “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”

  • Skittles – “Taste the Rainbow”

  • Red Bull – “It Gives You Wiiiings!”

While these slogans are catchy, they’re memorable because they represent what the brand is trying to convey. Skittles is a candy that features all the colours of the rainbow, each colour with its own distinct taste. Red Bull gives you the energy to do anything, making people feel as though they can fly. And Apple. Well Apple, changed the way we view technology. They thought differently and inspired others to follow suit.

When trying to develop your company’s brand it’s important to understand how these different visual elements work together. It’s also important to understand that your visual identity decision should be based on a more in-depth analysis. However, my biggest piece of advice when creating a brand is to TEST. Test, test, and test again. Make sure this is what your target market is looking for and will identify with. If you test first, you can save yourself a big headache down the road when people aren’t buying your product or service.

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