Firstly, when thinking about investing in your brand you should consider that the right visual identity design will provide:
- Navigation – potential customers are probably choosing from several possible suppliers, so make it easy for them to choose you over the competition.
- Reassurance – everybody wants to know they’ve made the right choice, souse your brand identity to clearly communicate the level of quality they can expect to receive from your business.
- Engagement — well-designed touchpoints can be used to create meaningful associations and make it easier for people to identify with your brand.
In other words, the right visual identity will help you attract and retain more customers, thereby helping you grow your business.
Consequently, it’s fair to say that the real cost of creating your brand identity may in fact not be the fee you pay to the designer. In fact, you should be measuring the cost of your brand identity in terms of the potential clients you will lose if the visual identity isn’t right.
Investing in a brand identity that matches the aspirations of your business and the level of product or service you deliver is money well spent. Indeed, when combined with the other elements of a brand system, it may just be the best investment you ever make.
Take charge of creating the perception you want for your business or accept that you are probably losing business.
Your brand identity expresses itself with every touchpoint your customer experiences. Here are just a few of the ways in which someone can come into contact with your brand:
- Business card
- Proposal documents
- Email signatures
- Branded workwear
- Vehicle graphics
Any of these can have a negative impact on someone’s experience of your brand and might just be enough to stop them doing business with you. Initially, prioritise those touchpoints that have the highest potential for negative impact and invest in improving the quality of these immediately. Subsequently, you can implement improvements to the other touchpoints as time and budget allow.
Elements of a Brand Identity
Different visual elements make up your brand identity and they all combine to evoke an overall feeling:
The core of your brand identity, your logo can be made up of logotype (words), a symbol (Nike Swoosh) or a mixture of both.
Importantly, you will need variations that create a consistent experience based on placement and usage. For example, social media icons have become increasingly important so a logo that works in a square or circle format will be important. Will it work effectively on all the brand touchpoints discussed earlier?
We all respond to colours. Furthermore, we’re programmed to do it. Just think of traffic lights!
The colour you use in your identity will communicate a subliminal message about your brand. So, be careful not just to pick your favourite colour. You need a colour scheme that will appeal to your customers and match your brand promise. For example, at Fourteen Forty we deliberately chose a neutral colour scheme to allow us to show off our clients’ work.
Fonts also play a big role in creating the right perception for your brand. As with colours, it’s important to stay focused on the right font rather than just the one you like.
- Serif fonts can be used to create a traditional, prestige or expensive brand identity that might be appropriate for a solicitor or investment firm.
- Sans serif fonts often form part of a brand identity that is aiming to create a modern feel, or a more straightforward, simple, and no-nonsense attitude. These fonts might be more appropriate for a technology or clothing firm.
- Playful rounded fonts will help create a fun, childlike brand and would be appropriate for a theme park brand identity.
Selecting the right imagery to reflect your brand is crucially important. The right image will demand attention and help deepen the viewer’s connection with your brand.
Indeed, you can use imagery to set yourself apart from your competitors. The fact that royalty-free yet high-quality photography is so readily accessible, a lot of brands have ended up looking very generic. Really, who needs to see another “business meeting” stock image? So, invest in quality imagery that you will be able to use in marketing for years to come.
Tone and voice
Your tone and your voice drive how you communicate in all your brand’s interactions with clients and potential customers. It’s the words you use and how you use them. Are you clear and concise or are you loaded with industry jargon? Are you bold and brash or helpful and caring?
Whatever tone is right for you, own it and be consistent. Your customer should never be confused. Your tone needs to communicate your key messages consistently across all platforms.
Protect your brand
A lot of time and effort, as well as the financial costs, go into developing a high-quality brand identity. For this reason, it’s essential that you protect it. Ensure that all elements of your identity are always used in a manner that portrays the perception you want people to have of your business.
- Firstly, ensure you have a set of brand guidelines that set out the correct use of the brand identity (including all the elements outlined above).
- Secondly, create a folder including the brand guidelines and all the brand’s digital assets and make it readily available to anyone who may need to use them. A Dropbox folder is a great way to make these resources available to external stakeholders.
- Finally, invest the time to make sure all staff know the brand and can actively play their part in delivering it.
Bring it all together
In conclusion, the right logo, colour, composition, typography, tone of voice and style can all work together to create a visually appealing brand identity that will help attract and retain more customers.