For the third section of this refresh marketing series I'm talking all about visual identity. After having worked through the second Refresh post (Audience) you should now have a clear idea on what audience you want to target and how you want to position yourself to them.
The visual identity of your brand is key to reaching your target audience and to increasing brand loyalty and share-ability. It boils down to how your brand looks and feels to people. It's all good to have an idea of what you want your brand to look like in your mind but it's even better to get your ideas down into a brand document, ready for you to flick back and review whenever needed.
Before creating a document for yourself, let's work through the below questions to help you define your visual identity.
What 3 words sum up your brand?
These 3 words are not only going to help you with your tone of voice but also with how you want your brand to look visually. There's no right or wrong, you just want to pick three that you feel really resonate with who you want your brand to be. Here are some examples cute, calm, strong, knowledgable, passionate, empowering, colourful, happy, trustworthy.
Once you have these three words you want to start looking through your marketing content (website, social media, adverts) does your visual content sit with your current three words? If yes, that's great but if not the next step is really going to help you.
I want you now to stop and do some research to find three brands that you feel have similar words to yours, what brands come to mind when you think of those words you've come up with? Once you have them, keep their websites open as you'll review them again in a bit.
What three colours show off your brand?
Now you have an idea on your three words you can use these to think about your brand colours. What colours do you feel portray your brand story and the three words that sum up your brand?
You can review back to your research to see what other brands have used. Strong colours such as deep red and purples give an empowering message. The cooler, lighter colours give a calming feeling. Find three colours that stand out to your brand and work well together. You also want to have your audience in mind, if you have lots of colours to choose from that fit with your three words, which colours will also fit well with your audience? I recommend using Canva to swatch a few colours together and see how they look. Once you've found your colours, make a note of their RGB and HEX numbers; this is super helpful to have when creating imagery yourself as you'll always use the correct colours each time rather than guessing your shade of blue, etc. You can now review your social media accounts, website, marketing and see, have you already been using these colours or do you need to start amending your images, font colour etc to reflect your newly updated colours?
What style of imagery do you use?
This is the time where you want to review your current marketing, social media platforms and your website. What imagery are you using, is it photography focused or illustration based? Is it mix of digital art and photography? There's so many options and no one is right or wrong but you want to make sure that what you're using is clear and consistent. Having consistent imagery makes it easier for people to understand your brand and what you're about. One of your goals should be that customers/clients could look at an image and think that's an advert by you or they could see a photo and think you would love it and would want to share it with you. You want people thinking about you even when you're not always there, this is how visual identity works at its best! So, the big question is, do your current images fit with your brand colours and your three key words, are you being consistent, could someone tell from all the images you're using that they were from your brand?
Start to note down changes you could make to try and work towards your end visual goal based on your colours and three words. Maybe you just need to pick one style of image e.g bright clear images using lots of white. Or maybe you need some strong, dark, moody photos with deep blue velvet colours and shadows. Refer back to your previous research you did in the first question and see what other people have done who use similar words to you and plan how you can start to make changes over your current marketing.
What core visual assets do you use?
This question makes you think about your assets such as your signatures and logos. What core visual assets do you use in your marketing that people would recognise? Once you gather these together, you want to look over them and see if they match your three words and your 3 brand colours you've picked. Is there anything you can do to amend them if needed. This series is all about refreshing your current marketing strategy so inevitably you may need to tweak some of your visual assets to help reach your end goals (more on that in the next Refresh post).
What fonts do you use, do they fit with your 3 words?
The last part of our review is all about fonts. These are amazing as with one simple font change you can create a whole new set of words for a brand. You can go from "strong, independent, empowering" to "clam, soft, trustworthy". Take a look at the current fonts you use in your marketing and on your website, do they fit your current three words? Why not do some research and ask other people to describe what they think about your brand just based on your fonts. If you're looking for new digital fonts I always recommend Google Font and Fonts In Use.
Create your brand document
It's now time for you to pull everything together and make your brand document, this is also a great place to include information from your brand definition and audience research. The content you'll want to include from this refresh post is:
- A list of your three words
- Your 3 brand colour swatches along with their RGB and HEX values
- Some example imagery styles you like
- Your core visual assets
- A list of fonts you use
I recommend creating your document on word or in Canva. You'll want to review this document at least every 6 months and you can simply update it if your imagery has changed or if you're colours have changed slightly. Remember, consistency is key so try not to change your visual identity too much otherwise your clients/customers won't be able to recognise you.
If you need to make changes, what do you do?
Having worked through this section you might now find that you want to refresh a few things about your visual identity. This doesn't have to be done all at once, you can do this gradually if money might be an issue but I impolore you all to think about who might be able to help you out. You might be able to barter skills with someone, if you need a new logo creating, or some photos taking, who do you know who could do this for you in exchange for one of your skills?
You've also got to bite the bullet sometimes and if investing in your business means you're going to reach your visual identity target, then that's only but a good thing. In the long run having a consistent identity makes it easier to be recognised and recommend.