Your brand’s visual identity is about so much more than your logo and your website’s color scheme. While different businesses, of course, have differing needs when creating a visual identity, there are a few basics that apply to all brands.
Use our guide to discover the basics of visual identity, including how it impacts conversions, how to create original visual assets, and top ways to make use of your new visual identity. Understanding the various components of your visual identity is crucial to your marketing efforts, and this applies regardless if you’re a new business or in the middle of rebranding.
Why Do You Need a Visual Identity?
From the moment a consumer or business comes into contact with your brand, they develop an opinion about you. For most brands, the impression they leave is insignificant. Think about how many brands you know. Now, think about all of the brands you’ve came across that you can’t remember. Some researchers say there are at least half a million big recognizable brands and countless little ones.
You’ll need an effective visual identity to ensure your brand image sticks in the minds of consumers and other businesses. The impression of your brand’s image is not going to come as a result of your audience sitting around and thinking about it. This impression is going to come as a result of small interactions that the audience has with your marketing campaigns. With a visual identity that sticks in a person’s mind, you have mastered the ability to instill brand image recall.
The key to creating an impressive visual identity is to resonate with your audience on an emotional level. This is why color psychology is so important when building a visual identity. Using certain colors, you can trigger emotions that build a bridge of trust and dependability with your audience. Make sure to read Color Psychology: What Colors Mean in Marketing for a better understanding of using colors to trigger emotion.
Why Does High-Converting Visual Marketing Matter to Visual Identity?
A high-converting visual identity isn’t all about what it looks like. In fact, it’s more about what it accomplishes. Your visual identity needs to have a purpose, and this purpose needs to help you achieve both your current and future objectives. To create an effective visual identity, you’ll need to make it:
- Flexible: Make sure the identity can expand as you scale your business and start offering more products and services;
- Reflective: It should align with your brand’s personality, values and mission;
- Intuitive: Partner with a visual marketing agency to help you create an identity that doesn’t look amateur. All elements should complement one another while achieving a purpose.
Even if you’re a one-man band operating as a successful solo entrepreneur, you’re going to need a team of professionals in your corner who excel in high-converting visual marketing.
To create a high-converting visual marketing campaign that enhances your visual identity at the same time, follow the tips below.
Use Various Forms of Visual Content
Numerous marketers fail to leverage their existing content to its fullest potential. Don’t be one of them!
A high-converting visual marketing campaign is going to make use of each piece of content in multiple ways.
Let’s say you have a blog post that is performing really well. You can take that blog post and repurpose it into an infographic, whiteboard animation, explainer video, interactive content, and so much more. This gives you ample opportunity to achieve the highest conversion rate possible for that specific piece of content.
Appeal to Your Audience’s Emotions
High-converting visual marketing appeals to the audience on an emotional level. You can use mood boards to help you refine your visual marketing efforts so that each visual asset evokes your intended emotion and response.
The image below is what a mood board looks like.
All buyers — including yourself and your customers — base purchasing decisions on emotion. This is why it’s so important to appeal to your audience on an emotional level. In fact, in B2B buying, logic and reason go out the window. Emotions fuel B2B purchasing decisions. Check out the image below for a better understanding of how emotions influence B2B purchases.
Since your audience’s emotions are at the heart of moving them through the sales funnel, you must ensure all of your landing pages focus on their emotions instead of being overly-promotional. Always make your audience and their pain points the central focus of your landing pages and not your product.
Evernote does a good job at creating landing pages that are focused on emotion. The landing page shown below appeals to the audience’s emotions in several ways: It showcases a smiling woman, and this woman is smiling because she is meeting her quarterly goals by using the product’s budgeting, planning and scheduling features.
Use Mood Boards for Your Visual Identity
Not only can you use mood boards to shape your marketing efforts, but you can also use them to build your visual identity.
Let’s say you’re in the process of creating a logo for your brand image. Many professional designers and marketers use mood boards on a regular basis for design purposes. Without a mood board, you and your designer are essentially left at the mercy of hoping that the final logo turns out like you expect it. And here’s what usually happens; the designer brings a logo to you, it doesn’t perfectly align with your expectations, so back to the design table the designer goes to make some tweaks. Sometimes, the designer might even start from scratch; this process is time-consuming.
Ultimately, without a mood board, there is no clear vision as to what you and the designer are hoping to create. With mood boards, a clear vision comes to life. Before you hire a designer, you should create a mood board to help him or her understand what you want your logo to look like. The same applies when you are creating new visual assets for marketing purposes. You and the design team can create a mood board to ensure everyone is on the same page.
When creating a mood board, you’ll want to identify key trends and moods that you want to evoke. Then, you’ll research the strongest images that bring those trends and moods to life. Here’s a look at a few amazing mood boards. As you look at them, think about the emotions that they trigger.
Always use a mood board that reflects your visual identity when creating your other mood boards for advertising purposes. Check out the image below. It depicts several mood boards that are used for different marketing and branding purposes. All of them complement one another, which is pertinent for creating a positive visual identity.
The Secrets to Creating Original Visual Content
With your mood boards in place and a solid idea of what you want your visual identity to look like, you can now head to the design table. If your brand operates solely as an eCommerce store, your visual identity will appear almost entirely online. If you have brick-and-mortar offices and/or stores, then your visual identity will appear both online as well as in the real world.
Keep in mind, your visual identity is all about the way your audience perceives you. There is a difference between brand identity and visual identity.
Your brand identity consist of:
- Your messaging
- Audience perceptions (both internal and external)
- Online presence
Your visual identity consists of your:
- Marketing materials
- Color palette
- Collateral materials
A major part of your visual identity is determined by your visual assets, like infographics, explainer videos, social media video ads, interactive content, and more. It cannot be stressed enough that you need to create and use original visual assets on a regular basis. Many marketers (42 percent) agree that original visuals garner the best performance rates. Your customers (92 percent) WANT you to communicate to them through visual storytelling. There’s no better way to tell a story than through an infographic or explainer video.
Creating an Original Infographic
Always use credible sources when creating an infographic. The research alone for your infographic will likely take a couple of days. Infographics are not a 20-minute asset, even though lots of sites say you can create one in that amount of time. Infographics that engage the audience and are share-worthy take much longer to create.
When creating the text for your infographic, remember that it needs to be somewhat minimal. Your text should support the visuals and not the other way around. To keep text to a minimum, use short sentences and lots of bullet points. Here’s an example of a finished infographic versus what your text should like when you’re putting together your research. Notice how in its finished form that the text supports the visuals.
You can team up with a professional visual marketing agency to create your infographic, or you can use an infographic template. The latter, of course, costs less, but the finished product probably won’t be nearly as engaging as it would be if you let a team of content and design experts create the infographic for you.
Check out How to Create Original Visual Content to learn more about creating various types of visual assets that will help you build a positive visual identity.
Measuring Your Visual Identity Efforts
Remember how we said that you need to use various forms of visual assets to create your visual identity? Well, using them isn’t enough. You must measure their results to ensure you are achieving the highest ROI. More so, when you measure them, you can improve conversion rate optimization.
Measuring your visual media marketing efforts is also crucial because it allows you to refine your visual identity.
Let’s say you have two social media video ads that you’re testing against one another. One version of the ad is performing at a much higher rate than the other version. The only difference between the two ads is that one has a green background and the other has a blue background. So, you start testing your other visual marketing efforts against one another using those two background colors.
After three months of testing, you realize that almost all of the assets with a green background perform better. Knowing this information is of the utmost value when creating a logo or when you’re in the middle of rebranding. It shows you that you should definitely incorporate more green into your visual identity.
Check out How to Measure the Results of Your Visual Marketing Efforts to learn how you can use metrics to improve your visual identity.
The Top Reasons You Need to Use Visual Marketing
Your visual media marketing shapes your audience’s perception of your brand image. Your customers, in turn, then spread their opinions of your brand image with other consumers, which further increases the effectiveness of your visual identity.
Why do customers love visual marketing so much? Because it helps them understand your message.
If you publish a blog post explaining how to do something and you pair your instructions with visuals, your readers will find them 323 percent easier to follow than trying to follow them without visuals. Plus, text paired with visuals is easier to remember. Only 10 percent of text is remembered three days later. When you pair visuals with the text, roughly 65 percent of the information is remembered three days later.
Helping your customers remember what they read or look at is essential for brand image recall. Any time you have a key takeaway or an important piece of information you want your audience to remember, make sure to pair it with a visual. You can do this with infographics, graphics, photography, explainer videos, and more.
Here’s a closer look at reasons to use visual media marketing for visual identity purposes:
- Infographics are shared 3x as much as other forms of content.
- 74 percent of marketers include visuals in their social media posts.
- An article with an image receives 94 percent more views when compared to those without visuals.
- Infographics drive site traffic by 12 percent.
- 30 percent of marketers create their own visuals.
For more on the many reasons your audience WANTS you to use visual marketing, check out Why Do Your Customers Love Your Visual Media Marketing Efforts.
Top Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Visual Identity
Just because you have a visual identity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an effective one. If it doesn’t result in brand image recall, you should definitely head back to the brainstorming room to refine your visual identity.
There are many mistakes that brands commonly make that blur the effectiveness of their visual identity. Some of these are small mistakes while others are large. From bad fonts to poor color choices, these mistakes make it hard for brands to create a consistent visual identity that builds a bridge of dependability with their audiences. Even some of today’s major brands make these mistakes and don’t even realize it.
Here’s a look at the top eight visual identity mistakes and how to avoid them.
Failing to Use Your Buyer Persona
Always use your buyer persona when creating any type of visual asset. When leveraged correctly, this persona ensures that your visual identity speaks directly to your audience, which is pertinent to building loyalty and achieving higher conversions.
Carelessly Designed Logo
You can have a lot of fun when creating a logo, but there’s a lot of seriousness in making one as well. Anyone can use digital tools to create a logo, but if it doesn’t resonate with your audience and genuinely reflect your brand image, then it’s meaningless, and it most definitely won’t help drive conversions.
Your logo should reinforce your brand image, including its visual identity, mission and values. Here’s an example of three logo designs that truly reflect the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, which is an organization that helps eliminate five types of tropical diseases. Notice how the bars — one for each disease — are in the shape of Africa. Also, notice how the different versions are used for specific types of marketing materials.
Not Using Your Brand Style Guidelines PDF
Any time you create a visual asset, you should refer back to your brand style guidelines pdf. These guidelines will serve as the foundation for all of your visual asset creations. If you don’t have the brand style guidelines pdf, you need to create them; this ensures your visual assets complement your visual identity. Designers are incredibly grateful for the brand style guidelines pdf as it helps them move forward knowing they are headed in the right direction.
Poor Web Design
Your website is at the heart of your visual identity. Unresponsive websites, poor favicons and low-resolution images are just the beginning of poor web design. You should not only carefully plan your visual identity, but it should be flexible, as well. Just because your logo looks good on your website doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work well as a small social media profile image.
Also, just because your website performs good on a desktop doesn’t mean it’s been optimized for mobile viewing. These are crucial elements you must address to ensure your visual identity leaves a positive, lasting impression.
Failing to Be Diverse in Your Imagery
Take a look at your images that you use on your website and in your marketing materials, including infographics, videos, and social media posts. Are you representing diversity? When choosing and creating images, always do your best to be as diverse as possible.
Typography gives you a way to add vibrancy and life to your marketing message, but it can also quickly steer people away. If it’s too big or too small, your audience will click out of your site and go elsewhere to find what they are looking for. Just because a certain font is pretty and complements your visual identity doesn’t mean it’s easily legible by everyone.
Jessica Hische provides a great tip for helping you choose font that can easily be read by just about anyone.
Poor Site Navigation
Your visual identity is greatly impacted by your audience’s ability to navigate your site. To ensure your website is improving your visual identity instead of hurting it, give five random people the address to your site’s home page and ask them to do the following tasks:
- Find a blog post in a certain category
- Find the Contact page
- Find the company contact information (this should appear on every page on your site)
- Find the Product/Services page
If the five people can’t easily fulfill all of those tasks, then there’s a good chance your website has poor navigation. Your web design team will need to revisit the site’s structure, including your use of headers, subheaders, imagery, tabs, body copy, etc. When a person lands on your site, they should find it easy to navigate to whatever page it is that they want to visit.
Complicating Your Visual Identity
Colors are pretty. Colors trigger certain emotions. But too many colors will only complicate your visual identity. At the core of your visual identity should be:
- One main color
- Two primary colors
- Three to five complementary colors
- Two accent colors
Are You Ready to Create a Visual Identity?
Creating an effective visual identity takes a lot of time and planning. If you need help with creating visual assets that complement your visual identity, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.