Is Your Brand Sending the Right Visual Message?
A brand is an Important foundation to any company, whether it is B2B or B2C interactions. It should be able to catch the attention of your potential customers at first glance. If the colours, typography or the complimentary elements, like photos or shapes, do not have relations to your potential clients, it can create a disconnect in the conversion process. This raises the question:
How do you know if your brand is sending the right visual message?
This question is subjective to each business. Thankfully, there are some key design fundamentals that function as guidelines to critically analyze your brand. Before we get into the methods of reviewing your brand, we need to understand what makes up your visual message. There are a number of components within your brand that your clients and leads will see. This includes:
- Your Logo: This is the root of all brands. It shows the primary colour treatment, shapes and typography that should be applied to the other marketing material.
- Stationary Items: This includes your business cards, letterheads, envelopes, brochures, etc. Business cards create a powerful first impression of your company. You want to be sure that it makes the right one.
- Signage and Banners: This applies to both physical signage and digital banners which function as ads for your company or a marketing campaign.
- Website: Your website is the hub for your online presence which branches off into other online platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, emails or your landing page. Every page on your website needs to compliment the brand, otherwise there will be a major disconnect and may cause users to drop off the site.
- Social Media: Your brand’s imagery does cross over to other websites as well such as social media platforms. Your logo, banners and website all link to your social platforms and often people may look for you on one of these social platforms before searching for your website.
Congruency is key to the items mentioned above. There are also more sub elements that go into your brand, but these are some of the more common ones you may have for your company. Another aspect of your company to keep in mind is the philosophy behind the company. Let’s take a moment to look internally.
Understanding your company’s core values and mission statement
As with all companies, your core values and mission statement express what type of business you are. You’re going to want to attract customers that also align with these values. Because of this, these values should transcribe into your brand’s visual message. Let’s dive into some of the guidelines you can use to dissect your brand and know if it is reaching your audience.
Know your clientele demographic
Knowing your client demographic is an important step and is often seen within sales. Knowing where your clients are located, their age range, gender and general interests will help you better pinpoint how to attract them.
Is your audience below 30? They may be drawn into some of the trending designs seen online. Does your clientele base have municipal ties? A cleaner, professional approach would generally be more appealing to them.
Breaking down your brand’s visual message
Let’s analyze some primary design elements that appear within your logo and sub brand elements to get a better understanding of your visual message.
Every design component within your visual message will have typography. The typefaces used should compliment your brand and the best way to do that is reference the logo. When reviewing your brand, are the typefaces stylized with calligraphy, sans serif or serif?
Calligraphy is highly stylized and won’t often apply to your brand unless you are wanting to achieve a prestige appearance. Sans serif typefaces are some of the most common typefaces for headlines while serif fonts are commonly used for large bodies of text since the extensions (or feet) help guide the eye to the next character.
Picking the right typeface will represent your brand well
Are you using all capitals, lowercase or formal English? Again, these will come the type of theme you are going form. Thin fonts are generally project a more elegant visualization while heavier weighted fonts will be stronger in nature. If you’re using hand written fonts it can come across as more casual.
Is your audience looking for a bold impact? Or are they looking for something more exquisite? Or perhaps more relaxed? This will directly transcribe into your typography choices as it does with your choice in messaging. The copy used within your marketing material also has a major influence on your choice of typography.
Changing the weight and the treatment will drastically change the expression of your message.
Are your brand colours bright and vibrant? Are they pastel? Vibrant colours will be more direct and energetic vs pastel colours which are softer and less intense.
The choice in tone and shading with your brand’s colour scheme will say a lot more than you may realize. Next time you’re out in a store, or a mall, take a close look at some of the logo colours and question – why did they pick those colours?
- Red and Oranges: These colours portray high energy and can be more proactive.
- Yellow: Yellow follows closely to orange as does orange does for red. It is high energy but less aggressive. The human eye naturally gravitates towards bright yellows, which is why it is used for caution tape and on construction equipment.
- Green: This colour is commonly associated with growth, nature or money, varying on the tone of green. Yellow-based greens are more associated with nature where blue-based greens are cooler.
- Blue: Depending on the shading, blues can be warm to cool. This colour is the most neutral used and seen in large corporations. For example, Wal-Mart had switched from a darker blue to a lighter blue to create a friendlier mood.
When you’re taking a look at your brand colours, why are they the colours that they are? The examples above can help guide you to see if the colours are expressing the right message. Is your company high energy or is the focus on growth? Review your core values and mission statement if you’re not sure.
Sub Graphical Elements
Does your brand use icons? Or how about illustrations? If you are reviewing your brand components and notice a lot of graphics vs. photography, make note of this. Why is the brand approaching its visual message with this method? For example, an I.T. or technology-based company may use icons more frequently to reflect the tech nature of the industry. Take a look at smartphones, the interface uses plenty of icons.
Photography and Videography
If your brand is using photography within your visual message, you’ll want to look for some of the same components as you would for colour. What are the pallets used within the photo? These will express the same moods as the solid colours do within icons or logos.
When analyzing photos, examine what the people are doing, the actions poses they are in, what they are wearing and what age range they have. These points are important when picking a photo – or video – to see if it fits within your company’s core values and mission statement.
Stock vs Custom
In a perfect world, custom photos and videos would be applied to every marketing component used within your brand. This ultimately comes down to budget. If it is possible, using custom photographs and videos creates a far more personalized visual message than a stock image.
A brand guide is highly important to help direct the type of design components that go within your brand. Brand guides generally range from 10 -15 pages but can come in a single page sheet as well. Note that not every designer or design firm provides one. That is why this was listed last, as it is not always readably available. When it is though, it can drastically help speed up your visual message review.
Summarize your brand’s visual message
Using the guidelines above will provide insight into what your visual message is saying to your clients. As mentioned, it is entirely subjective to each company. It varies based on industry, demographic and the size of your company.
When you are ready to review your brand, or if you are starting fresh, be sure to review and reflect upon the company’s core values and mission statement. This is the heart of your company and transcribes into every aspect of the corporation, including the visual message of your brand.
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