Building a strong visual brand can feel overwhelming and unnecessary when all you really want to do is perfect the quality of your product or service and focus on selling it. But if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already accepted the reality that a strong visual brand is an important part of both. It’s the foundation of product development and the catalyst for making that sell.
What is a visual brand?
A visual brand (VB) is a big part of your marketing strategy. It’s made up of all the visual elements (colors, fonts, and images) you use to represent your business. It reflects your vision and mission and helps to streamline marketing in a way that a fragmented visual identity cannot. Here are five key reasons why your visual brand is more than just for decoration.
1. Clients can easily identify you by your VB.
What’s your fashion style? Are you a casual t-shirt and jeans person with a laid-back personality, a slacks and blazer type who approaches life like you’re at the head of a conference table, or that person who dawns the latest, over-the-top trend every chance you get? Your fashion style is part of your personal brand. It’s one of the ways others identify you. The visual brand you establish for your business has the same effect. It gives your clients and potential clients a strong idea of your business’ identity. If each type of collateral you distribute is visually independent of the next (i.e., your social media posts have a completely different color palette than what’s used on your business card and each of those items uses a different family of fonts compared to the ones used on your digital flyer), clients may find it difficult to know it’s you from item to item. On the other hand, if every piece of collateral you present uses the same combination of colors and fonts, high-quality photographs with similar lighting, and/or unique illustrations, clients are more likely to immediately remember to associate each of your promotional pieces with your product or service.
2. Your VB inspires clients to feel emotionally connected to your business.
As humans, we often have an emotional connection to a strong visual brand. Not only do we tend to associate a favorable (or unfavorable) experience with brands we’ve come across, elements of brands we are just seeing for the first time can inspire us to feel a connection as well. For example, a shade of turquoise that reminds you of the ocean you saw on a relaxing beach vacation that’s used on a spa flyer, might cause you to associate those fond memories with that spa and inspire you to patronize it. It’s not just colors that move us, other visual elements like fonts can have a similar effect. Heavy bold fonts with thick serifs might make us think of college sports while thin serifless fonts might remind you of your favorite perfume or beauty product.
3. Your VB clarifies what you are selling.
One of the characteristics of a strong visual brand is a clear message through imagery and text. Potential clients who can understand beyond a doubt what you are selling can easily determine whether your product or service is a good match for their needs and are more likely to patronize your business if they are in the market for it.
4. Your VB helps your business run more efficiently.
A strong visual brand is representative of your business mission and vision. For that reason, once it’s established it empowers you to navigate through a sea of otherwise time-consuming business operations like developing new collateral, expansion, and even helping clients to decide favorably on whether you are a good fit for their needs.
5. Your VB helps your business stand out from the competition.
Let’s face it, your visual brand is only part of what makes your business unique, the quality of the product or service you’re selling plays an even bigger role. But even before that first sale a strong visual presentation of your business makes you recognizable when compared to your competition.
Ways You Can Strengthen Your Visual Brand
There are lots of ways to establish or improve your visual brand is an ongoing process, but some key initial steps are:
- Audit Your Materials
If you’re an established business, one of the first steps you should take to strengthen your visual brand is to perform a communications audit. A communications audit involves pulling together all your existing marketing collateral, displaying it side by side in the same space and comparing each element, and taking note of the colors, fonts, and imagery you use. If you haven’t already come up with a mission, doing so before you choose your VB elements is best.
- Choose Your VB Elements
The next step involves selecting the colors, fonts, and imagery styles that best reflect your mission and vision.
- Create a style guide and decide what promotional items you’ll need.
You can hire a graphic designer to develop a professional style guide for your business. In its most basic form, a style guide is a listing of all the visual elements you’ve selected to represent your business. You’ll use this guide for the life of your business even if you decide to rebrand years down the road.
- Choose your marketing collateral.
Determining what promotional items will be the most useful is another important step. Every business is different, most start-ups need elements like a logo, social media graphics, and a business card.
Whether you own a start-up or an established business, a visual brand is always within reach. To learn more on how to strengthen your VB, take The Bulb Graphics Visual Brand Challenge.