Master your visual identity to shape your customers’ perception (Pt.1)September 14, 2021 2021-09-14 15:14
Master your visual identity to shape your customers’ perception (Pt.1)
Master your visual identity to shape your customers’ perception (Pt.1)
Whether you’re a small team of ten or a freelance language specialist working on your own, the same principle applies – in order to register with today’s consumers on and offline, you need to craft a distinct brand identity.
In a nutshell, brand identity is the total sum of customer experiences with your brand. It consists of many different elements, including your name and story, the content you put out, the tone of voice you use, your customer interactions, and your visual identity – the last of which holds particular importance in today’s image-driven Instagram era.
Although you might think that visual identity, while a nice concept, is a luxury afforded only by big brands, that’s no longer the case.
Visual identity is just as important, if not more important, for you as a freelancer or small business owner – as you face a larger number of competitors offering the same language services, similar experience and comparable prices.
Having a distinct visual image is a strong differentiator that can put you at the front of your customers’ minds and help you project a trustworthy image of a reliable provider.
What is visual identity?
You can think of visual identity as a comprehensive visual language that communicates your brand to the world.
Just as any language, visual identity is a structured system of communication, but instead of using words, it relies on visual stimuli. And just like every language has its unique vocabulary and syntax, visual identity has its five main building blocks:
- Colour palette
- Graphic elements
How they are used, individually and in relation to one another, will determine what your brand will look, and feel like, to your clients.
This in turns will affect what types of clients you attract.
Why is visual identity so important?
1. It appeals to your clients, triggers their emotions and helps them remember you
Humans are visual creatures. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, visuals help viewers store information in their long-term memory, and they cause a faster and stronger reaction than words.
We all implement this visual-first approach in different areas of life, from learning (65% of people are visual learners) to forming personal and professional judgements. Consider website design as an example. 75% of people associate a website’s credibility with its design and aesthetic, rather than its content.
With the staggeringly short time of 17 milliseconds that it takes an average person to form an opinion about a website’s design, every choice you make plays a crucial part in creating a brand image that will be judged favourably, right from the get go.
2. It defines your brand’s position on the market
Your visual identity can say a lot about your position on the market. A brand presented with refined visuals and custom design work acts as an indicator of – and grounds for – premium services and, by extension, premium prices. It lets your audience know they can expect high quality and attention to detail.
On the other hand, if the quality of your brand presentation is subpar, it signals a smaller budget, and most likely, lower quality and lower prices.
3. It conveys your personality and sets you apart from competition
In today’s crowded, digital landscape, not making a memorable first impression can cost you clients.
People looking for language services will likely browse several different sites before choosing the provider they want to contact. Your job is to make sure that after seeing your as well as your competitors’ websites, they choose you.
To achieve that, your visual presentation has to be on point – strong, appropriate, unique, and above all, consistent.
How to master your visual identity in 5 steps
1. Know yourself and your audience
As a linguist, you understand the importance of adapting the language you use depending on the type of audience you want to appeal to. Likewise, by shaping your visual identity in a certain way, you can capture the attention of specific types of clients, thus giving you control over the direction your business takes.
Law firms or government organisations will find different visual language appealing than non-profit organisations or marketing agencies. Fashion brands will likely respond to a different aesthetic approach than medical professionals or high-tech companies.
Think about the clientele you want to attract, learn about their likes and behaviours, and use the findings to inform your visual strategy.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to be personal. Figure out what makes you different – it can be one of your skills or personality traits, or the particular niche that you’re serving – and highlight it in your branding. Be focused, transparent and genuine – it will help people connect with you and your business better.
2. Develop emotional appeal
50% of brand experience is based on emotions. Consumers can, and do, have strong emotional reactions to companies they come across – and not just the big names, like Apple or Google, but also small, local businesses.
Not only do they have these emotional reactions but they are also strongly influenced by them in their decision-making process. Our choices – business decisions included – are often made subconsciously, (according to research, 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious!), which is why thoughtful visual choices matter so much.
Identify emotions you want your brand to evoke by learning about your ideal customer’s emotional state, needs and aspirations. Do your ideal clients value logic and reason above all? Are they more concerned with statistics or emotional resonance? What is their main objective or ambition? What do they need in order to achieve it?
Gathering answers to those and other questions will help you guide your visual identity in a way that strengthens the connection people have with your brand and increases brand loyalty, which in turn translates into greater customer retention.
Two of the best ways in which you can shape your brand’s emotional appeal are through colour theory and graphic style.
- Colour theory
Bright, warm colours evoke optimism and energy, while pastel, cool colours can be calming and soothing. Green is associated with health while blue has become synonymous with trust and security. Therefore, the former can be good choice when targeting medical or fitness professionals while the latter could work well for attracting banks or IT firms.
- Graphic style
Minimalist visual style with a lot of white space sends a different message than a loud, energetic one, full of funky shapes and vibrant colours. While the former can appeal to a more sophisticated audience, the latter can do well with a younger demographic.
Whatever choice you make, make sure it aligns with your brand’s mission and values. Otherwise, you run the risk of appearing inconsistent.
3. Stay consistent
Consumers trust the brands they recognise – and they won’t recognise yours if it isn’t consistent across the board.
Consistency makes you look dependable, and a dependable customer experience across all your channels is just as important as delivering a reliable service.
Consistency also aids content digestion. After spending your time and resources on crafting a carefully-tailored visual identity, you don’t want it to fall short because clients find it difficult to take in.
Many people underestimate the need for thoughtfulness in their visual branding and mistakenly equal quality with complexity, thinking that mixing different elements they like will make their brand unique. In reality, the opposite is true – simplicity enhances brand identity.
Brand identity should be easy to remember – and that will be impossible if you throw too many different elements into your visual branding mix.
What’s more, modern customers are busy and have neither the time nor the energy to dig through piles of digital clutter in search of the message they’re looking for. Clear the clutter for them!
Don’t be afraid of negative space – it makes the important elements stand out more. Don’t shy away from limited colour palettes – they create a sense of harmony and make your message clearer.
As a language specialist, you can appreciate how important it is to get your message across clearly and accurately. Extend the same principals to your branding!
5. Stand out
Last but not least, there’s the ‘stand out from the crowd’ cliché. That particular piece of advice has been repeated time and time again, to the point where it’s started to slowly lose its meaning. But there’s a reason for its ceaseless repetition – it works.
In the US alone, over 600,000 new businesses open each year. It is estimated that there are 640,000 translators in the world, and the demand for translators and interpreters is projected to grow further in the coming years. New competitors are emerging every day and if you allow your brand to get lost in the crowd – by making it hard to find and digest with weak visual messaging – you’ll end up being scrolled past, like the majority of small brands out there, unnoticed and by extension, unsuccessful.
Put your knowledge to use
Now that you know just how important visual identity is to attract clients and sustain and grow your translation or interpreting business, it’s time to put that knowledge to use and shape your brand image in a way that lets you control the direction your career takes.
In Part 2 of this post, we’ll look closely at the 5 elements that constitute visual identity – logo, colour palette, typography, photography and graphic elements – so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned for more useful tips!