Sometimes we as business owners don’t put enough weight on our own visual representation thinking that our services or products will speak for themselves. While these things can become valuable to people once they’ve discovered them, in the beginning it is hard to build trust when no one knows who you are and/or you don’t visually reflect the value you have to offer.
You may have heard this quote by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. He said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” It says a lot. The brand of a business is pretty similar to an individual person’s reputation. If you can think of your brand in that way then the analogy can be taken a bit further by saying that the visual identity of a business is similar to how you dress and carry yourself.
Even though how you dress is not really who you are it is at least a representation of the type of person you are or want to be. If you want to attract the right people and you want them to develop trust with you, then you need a visual identity that reflects how you want to be known “when you’re not in the room.” It’s like dressing for the job you want.
Through consistency and quality in a visual identity design a business can reflect professionalism, which can in turn build trust and keep people coming back. That quality should authentically reflect the quality of your business so it attracts an ideal audience. Like it or not sometimes the way you present yourself on the outside causes people to make assumptions. Albeit, sometimes the wrong ones, but often that is a product of associations that are often made because of a previously established associations or experiences. Items, pattern, colors and other things can be associated with an era or country or even an age group or gender to name a few. This is why you want a brand identity that makes the right associations in the mind of your audience.
There is a process to getting the desired results. I’ve taken what I’ve learned and broken it down into 3 phases. The first phase of the brand identity design process is one of discovery. This is probably the most important part so when it comes to the end result your audience doesn’t get the wrong idea about your brand.
Research & Strategize
An initial meeting is important to discuss your business, where it is now and where you see it going. A thorough brand questionnaire is also valuable to fill out any details in writing that were missed during the discussion. These insure that the research into your industry and target market lead the project in the right direction from the beginning. The goal of this phase is to form a strategy to construct an effective solution that tells your unique story and values with the ability to grow with your business goals.
Design & Build
During this phase what was gathered during the initial discovery portion of the process is used to give direction and generate a design solution to reflect your brand and the qualities that make it special. The design should be led by an objective solution that tells your brand’s story. Personal preferences and trends rarely help tell the right story. That’s why the discovery phase is so important. Once the solution is achieved everything will begin coming together to reveal the full picture of your brand’s story and all that supports it. The design begins with the main logo, which will be the visual representation of your brand in its simplest form. Once the best design solution is found then it can be followed by all the supporting elements. Color palette and typography are usually the first parts to follow, but there can be many more depending on the needs of the business. For instance, logo variations and submarks help with the different formats in which the logo might be used. Then there are other things like custom patterns, textures, icons and illustrations. Certain brands even have their own unique way of speaking or phrases they use as part of their identity. All these elements should work together to form the brand’s style. It’s much like personal style and the pieces of our wardrobe we combine together in different ways on a daily basis.
Apply & Reveal
This is the phase where it all comes together. The logo, all the supporting pieces, and even the brand’s language can be put to action on collateral and marketing material designs. Depending on the business these can be print items like business cards, packaging, ads and publications or on the digital side a website, email newsletter, social media profile graphics and blog graphics to name a few. With a successful brand identity design process you’ll receive everything you need to successfully launch your brand and attract your ideal audience. A brand style guide is a helpful tool to keep all of the pieces together, show examples of them in use and keep consistent as the business grows.
Design for a brand’s visual identity should be a reflection of what it truly is, its values and what they have to offer. No matter how nice the design looks unless a process, like this one, is utilized you could end up with a design that attracts the wrong type of client or no one at all. Quality, cohesive design with the right focus projects professionalism by showing that you care about your image. Overtime your brand can be a symbol of trust.