Some things are synonymous with a brand or colour. For example, green crosses usually mean pharmacies, and the orange smile is indicative of Amazon. These icons are so familiar because they are targeted, defined, and recognisable to their audience. They tell the audience instantly what is on offer, and that’s a powerful tool. To help your branding tap into that, let’s look at:
- How to define your brand
- Market research and audience understanding
- How to communicate with your market
- Ways to work it all into your visuals
Working out your visual branding doesn’t need to be pressure-filled and convoluted, so let’s find out how research, assessment and communication can help you improve your visuals…
1. How to define your brand
It’s not the logo or your colours that come first, it’s defining your brand that is the first step in your visual branding journey. After all, if you don’t know what you stand for or what you’re aiming to do, how can your logo be right?
So, you’ve got your product, now begin by thinking about what problems it solves:
- What are the stand-out points?
- What is the mission of the brand?
- Why should the audience care?
Research shows that people buy from brands with similar ideals and values. So, to create a brand that works, you’ve got to consider your personality and beliefs to help inform the visuals and interest your customers.
2. Market research and audience understanding
Logos and businesses that target different generations have different visuals and branding methods because every generation is unique with different values, concerns, and desires. Ergo: You need to define your target audience to create the most effective visuals.
A good way to start is to look at your direct competitors:
- What they are producing?
- Who they are targeting?
- What do their images, typography and messaging look like?
Extracting the common themes, values, and audience markers from their visuals and marketing is an excellent way for you to identify any missing or niche approaches.
Now you have those values and messages worked out, you can look at the audience itself. With a fully rounded understanding of your audience, you can better meet their needs and help build up their trust and loyalty.
Consider the following:
- What are the demographics of those who purchase from you or similar brands?
- What problem does your brand or product solve, and which people are most troubled by it?
- What marketing platforms do these people come across the most?
- Do their common values align with your brand values, and how can you better align with them?
Once you have this competitor understanding and your audience research, you can begin to build a picture of your ideal demographic and have a list of behaviours, values, and ideas to mould into your marketing and visual branding activity.
3. How to communicate with your market
With your newly developed ideal audience and their behaviours, values, and habits, you are likely to be able to deduce the optimal marketing platforms and communication methods for them.
For example, Gen Z are often called ‘Digital Natives’ as they grew up with ample access to mobile phones, the internet and social media platforms. Millennials were born between 1981 – 1996 and are still digitally savvy but remember when digital access was limited. Then there’s Gen X, who are ok with emails and have adapted to the digital world and Boomers, who were born when mobile telephone access was just a dream and are usually only comfortable with basic social media like Facebook or Twitter.
They all have different comfort levels and knowledge of technology, so your communication will need to be customised.
Now you’ve got your demographics, there’s your industry and Tone Of Voice (TOV) to consider. Think about it – if you saw an insurance company sharing memes and LOL-ing in their emails or on social media, that wouldn’t give you much confidence in their services as it’s unprofessional. Similarly, a car insurance brand talking with jargon-filled messaging and stats is not always going to appeal to a younger audience, is it?
You need to look at your competitor and audience research and work out the best communication methods and the ideal TOV to use. Think formal or informal, funny or considerate, fact-based or feeling based – work out what they want and aim to have your communications give them that.
4. Ways to work it all into your visuals
Once you have your audience, research, tone of voice and values all worked out, these can feed into the overall visuals or your brand.
Name and logo
The name of your brand or product should be relevant to you, the industry, or the user problem. Think of KFC – it says what it is, or how about Facebook – it’s essentially an online face book, isn’t it?
Your brand could be your name at the end of the day, but if you go that route, you’ll have the make the visuals much more aligned. Think about Amazon, the word itself doesn’t say much, but the visuals with the orange smile going from the A to the Z indicate it encompasses a whole range of things from a-z. Small things like that can show your audience what you do and stand for, so it’s something to consider.
As an extra, try to come up with an icon version of your logo. Make it something that would fit on a stamp that is small, recognisable and versatile for use across digital, or as a watermark for your in-house photos, even for any merchandise.
Your TOV feeds massively into your typography as fonts can influence feelings. Simple ones like Arial and Helvetic are straightforward making the reader feel like it’s essential information. The lack of swirls and serifs make it very legible too.
On the other hand, calligraphic fonts like Edwardian Script or brush fonts are more evocative and harder to read, so they’re more ideally used for headlines or not at all.
Don’t’ be afraid to add some fun into your fonts, just make sure it’s legible enough for your audience and keeps the overall feel of your visual branding where you want it to be. Some brands choose two fonts for this reason – one more evocative font to introduce and one simple font to get the main points across.
Photos and colours
Don’t underestimate the power of a photo or a colour – they can tell stories and share feelings without any words. So, aim to use photos that reflect how you want your audience to feel and use colours with connotations that align with your brand messaging. Blue is a trustworthy colour, purple evokes luxury, red means romance or danger – everything has meaning.
At the end of the day, your brand visuals are far more than a name or a handy logo to use. It’s something informed by in-depth market research to help you better target your ideal consumers and maximise your impact in what could be a crowded market. Your overall visuals are a powerful marketing, communication, and evocative tool, so take the time to properly develop it and see if it can help your brand be a success.