Building a brand: Creating a visual identity

We’ve already looked at the importance of authenticity when building a brand. But how does that affect other parts of your brand, like its visual identity?

Developing your brand identity is in many ways, the easiest part of the process, because if your values are truly defined, and you’ve built a profile for your ideal customer base, established your market positioning, and created a formula to tie this all together, it will all help define and shape many of the visuals which come to communicate your brand, through your identity.

They key is to closely remember your values throughout the process, ensuring that they are communicated and etched into the foundations of your brands visual foundations. The values are all well and good, but if you don’t tell anyone about them the time spent on forming them is wasted. 

Creating your identity is in essence a way of visually showing your businesses personality to the world. It isn’t about whether you like the colour pink, or your husband thinks blue is synonymous with financial institutions though, it’s about creating a true representation of your business, offering and utilising the chance to make a great, and impactful first impression.  

A great identity should perfectly embody your passion and values whilst cutting through the noise of a saturated world, one where instant gratification is prevalent, and content is consumed in throw away form. Standing out by utilising your values and message is a seriously underestimated approach when it comes to creating and building an identity that connects you with your audience.

If things feel slightly uncomfortable, because it feels unfamiliar both generally, and within your sector, it can often be the key sign you’re on the right track. After all, you didn’t start a business to operate in the same way as everyone else, did you? So why would you want to communicate in the same way as them? All great brands (Many of which have since inception spawned many imitators) can always be traced back to taking a different approach in their communications and marketing. The highly coveted Apple, for example, often referenced as being the king of standout brands, perhaps no longer stand out so highly, due to the sheer saturation of imitators was driven by the mantra of thinking differently.

Read: Commissioning a re-brand

In 2017 minimalism, and restrained visuals within commercial brands and advertising is fairly accepted and widely used. But imagine seeing ‘Think Different’ on a lonely page in 1997, against a sea of busy, post-modern inspired advertising and branding. It must have been mind-blowing to see a publicly traded company with such a heavy media and general presence pushing such bold, restrained and timeless visuals across international campaigns.

So don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve, show your values boldly, and communicate your point of difference clearly. Then begin to think about in terms of communicating your brand through touchpoints.  

But what next? Building a brand can often seem simple and incredibly overwhelming in equal measure. The first decision you make is who to hire to work with on your brand identity. How do you find an agency or studio? My suggestion, would be to find a studio whose work and ethos you feel fit what you’re trying to achieve. Someone who truly understands your culture and ethos. Chemistry is of as much importance here as visuals. It can be argued that the visuals are the shallow outcome of your work together, and besides which, any good agency should be able to design beautiful things without too much strain. A deeper chemistry will mean the agency really ‘gets’ your company, and what you’re looking to achieve, which in turn will mean they’re not afraid to disagree with you if they feel you’re straying too far from the original vision. Their objective opinion can be hugely valuable in helping to drive you forwards, and pushing your brand far beyond the superficial. 

When creating your identity, it’s worth trying to keep the bigger picture in mind, working with your chosen agency should involve creating a system, which visually embodies your values and proposition, rather than a rigid set of rules. With the sheer breadth of channels, avenues and touchpoints which your brand can be utilised across, it’s important it’s able adapt and remain flexible to enable you to quickly apply it as and when needed, not hinder a responsive approach.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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