Creating a Strong Visual Identity: 5 Tips for Small Businesses
Your brand identity consists of so many things. Customer service, product quality, brand messaging, location, size — the list goes on. These factors contribute to how your customers or audience perceive you.
You could be a luxurious, rare service, or an easily-accessible commodity. You could be an overpriced product or just right. You could be an emotionally resonant company or a combination of so many cultures.
But if you’re a new entrepreneur, trying to build a new customer base, it is essential to invest in the visual identity of your brand.
This includes your logo design, your typography, images, font hierarchy, and website patterns.
If they’re visually beautiful, then your chances of captivating larger customers will skyrocket. Ultimately, your visual materials and assets will affect your sales, brand loyalty, social media following, and overall value.
Now that we see visuals as that big spark in your business, we’re here to help you how to make it stronger. Here are some tips to try:
1. Invest in a great graphic designer
Forget about this tip if you’re a good graphic designer. But if not, here’s the truth: a good graphic designer is essential in growing your brand’s visual identity. So if you’re not a strong designer yourself, don’t skim on this part, rather invest your time and money on hiring high-quality graphic designers.
You see, almost all of your content needs a graphic designer for it to work — from social media posts to a product catalog. An experienced designer can produce better results by combining colors well, placing images correctly, and uploading the right format. They also consider consistency of all of these visual elements which are essential for a strong visual identity.
When hiring a graphic designer, go for a talent whose aesthetics and experience go with your taste. This way, you can communicate your ideal visuals easily, and in turn, they can deliver it accurately as you want it. No disconnect in your branding whatsoever.
But remember, these types of graphic designers might be expensive. But in terms of what they can produce for your business, it might be a golden investment.
2. Create a brand style guide
Your trusted graphic designer might make a good job in creating consistent images all the time, but how about other members of your team? The social media writer, the website manager, the tech assistant? This is where a brand style guide comes in very handy.
Brand style guide or brand guide can be in many formats and styles. But the goal of this item remains the same: to implement a consistent branding in all of the business processes from marketing to customer service, from product design to brand partnerships, and many more.
What does it contain? The most important is the logo, typeface, and slogan on the front cover. The rest of the pages should detail the rationale behind all of the design choices from the choice of font (e.g, why it's serif and not sans serif) to the choice of color combinations (e.g, color psychology) and more.
Here are some other content ideas for a brand style guide
There’s more to it depending on your industry, but you get the idea. This informs all present and future employees about what the visual elements that make up your business are. By then, they’ll be able to produce everything in a manner that falls in line with this guide.
3. Make the onboarding process efficient and comprehensive
While brand guides attain consistency, they are not perfect. They don’t include every tiny detail such as the owner’s value proposition or the target audience (note that this might change from time to time). And so the new employee might not have any idea regarding this — unless you craft an efficient and comprehensive onboarding.
The person tasked to do the onboarding should be updated on all of these brand changes.
And why the need to be efficient? Efficiency is just covering as much information but saving as much time.
This helps you eliminate roadblocks in onboarding. Not to mention, this makes sure that everyone is properly oriented on the kind of visual identity your brand is going after.
How to make it efficient? Keep it short and simple. That’s it. Once you’re able to onboard your new and potential employees with a comprehensive and efficient brand guide, they will be effective marketers and brand ambassadors.
4. Keep it consistent on all platforms
All of the ideas we presented have the same goals, and that is to achieve a consistent visual identity. Consistency is a marathon game that not all brands tend to win. First, because they change their minds easily when it comes to their design choices. Second, because their designs are not visually compelling enough. And lastly, because they don’t communicate their visual style in all of their brand partnerships and employees.
Why care for consistency? Consistency breeds trust. Take a brand that you love and you’ll see that its aesthetics are the same whenever you find them — on Facebook or even on Pinterest. Type a random business name online and you’ll see that just in one platform, their content materials are disoriented.
Moreover, consistency is related to high quality content and products. People would associate your brand to quality once they notice that all of your content is curated well. Your services and product will seem more alluring and worth taking the risk.
5. Develop your visuals over time
As much as we want our visuals to stay the same, some aspects of the business change. Either you get into a merger or you expand your product lineup. In such cases, the brand has to adapt to these changes. Your email newsletters, your Facebook advertisements, and your Instagram posts might have to be modified to get in line with the brand changes.
Also, over time you might find that some of your visual strategies are ineffective. Or sometimes, you find that your target audience is slightly changing. These factors are reasonable enough for you to alter and develop your visual proposition.
Note that not all businesses have to change their visuals but for growing business, it might be necessary. So if you find that it’s the right time to modify your visual branding, here’s how you do it right:
Do it gradually - too fast might be too disruptive and people might feel a sudden disconnect in your business and they might assume the owners change or that the products have been altered (they might not like it.)
Add small changes - Only small changes to the visual aesthetics might be acceptable. For instance, don’t change the whole color palette — only one color. Or shift to a different color but stick to the same family.
Announce the changes if it matters to your audience — if a merger happens and you’re a part of some company, your visual identity might change and this matters to your loyal customers. So take the time to announce it and the further changes that might happen.
Your brand identity is directly tied to your visual choices. Your logo, color, font, style, photography, icons, mascots, and more contribute to either a positive or negative brand perception. That means your decisions leading up to your visual materials need time and careful consideration.
Remember that most people are visual buyers. While the experience and quality of your product are leading factors in customers’ purchase decisions, you cannot make them try your brand first without beautiful packaging and a captivating social media presence.
If you haven’t given your visual identity a thought, then it might be the new change you’re looking for. Ramp up your visual designs. Consider logo makers, business card makers, and other inexpensive design tools online to get started.
Once you have the budget, hire strong designers and make all of your materials consistent. If you do all of these, then it won’t take long before you attract more customers and develop a loyal following.
Interested in starting a business? Check out these helpful digital marketing resources for small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs in 2023.
Written by: Pamela Dionisio
Edited by: Andrew C. Belton, MBA
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