Master your visual identity to shape your customers’ perception (Pt.2)November 1, 2021 2021-11-01 10:23
Master your visual identity to shape your customers’ perception (Pt.2)
Master your visual identity to shape your customers’ perception (Pt.2)
A lasting brand impression begins with a powerful visual identity.
In Part 1 of this post, we explained what visual identity is, what it consists of, why it’s so important for your business and how to master it.
Now, we’ll look more closely at the 5 elements that constitute visual identity – logo, colour palette, typography, photography and graphics – and how to use them to get your brand message across.
A business logo is one of the cornerstones of any visual identity. It’s the face of your business and its number one identifier.
It consists of three elements:
A logomark is the main image you use to represent your brand; a wordmark is your company name; and a tagline is your signature phrase, which can communicate your mission or main objective, define your specialisation, or reflect the value you provide to your clients.
That doesn’t mean you have to use all three elements. Don’t add a tagline just for the sake of having one. If you can’t come up with a phrase that’s distinct, catchy and attractive to your target audience, you’re better off without one. However, if you have a great idea for a tag, it can add valuable context to your marketing materials and offer a glimpse of what your brand is about.
When it comes to the logomark, simplicity is often the best strategy. The image you choose should be clear, eye-catching and indicative of your brand personality, i.e., what you want your brand to make people feel.
You can use simple icons that represent what you do or choose something that’s synonymous with your area of expertise. If you’re specialised in legal translation, a gavel or a scale of justice can both be good options to consider. If you specialise in travel and tourism, you can consider incorporating visuals of a globe, a map or a famous landmark.
You can also go in a completely different direction and choose something that’s more personal for you and your brand. It might be something to do with your favourite place, a nickname you love or something else entirely. The big benefit of this approach is its uniqueness – it won’t look like anything else on the market and it will immediately set you apart from your competition!
In terms of the actual design, keep it as simple as possible. You might be tempted to include too many different icons or colours to communicate the specifics of what you do, but remember – your logo is not the place for this much detail. It should remain clear and uncomplicated. Otherwise, it will cease to be memorable and easy to comprehend, making you look unprofessional and hurting your chances of attracting clients.
Colour is a foundational element of your brand identity and one that enhances brand recognition by up to 80%. It not only makes your website, logo and other marketing materials more attractive but can also change the way people perceive and interact with your brand. In fact, there’s an entire field of psychology that explores colour as a determinant of human emotion and behaviour, i.e., colour psychology.
While perceptions of colour can be subjective, there are some colour effects with universal meaning. Warm colours such as red, orange and yellow, can evoke a range of feelings, from warmth and comfort to passion and excitement. Cool colours on the other hand can communicate calmness, safety and balance as well as trust and professionalism.
However, it would be too simplistic to suggest that green always represents nature and sustainability and purple invariably signals luxury. The context in which the colour is placed and the cultural or geographical idiosyncrasies of your target audience can also play a role in its interpretation. Make sure to do your research to avoid any misunderstandings and make the most of your colour palette!
Before choosing the shades you’ll use, make sure to:
1. Examine your brand personality
Think about what resonates with your target market and what you want your brand to represent. Do you want people to see you as friendly and enthusiastic or sophisticated and experienced?
2. Assess your platform fit
The way colour works differs when used off and online as digital and print mediums render colour very differently. An online-first business – like most translation and interpreting brands – might have different priorities. Consider that when making your colour-related choices.
3. Express your identity with matching colours
Read up on colour psychology and choose shades that match the defining traits of your brand. For instance, red can convey excitement, orange – enthusiasm, and yellow – friendliness.
Look into your customers, your competitors and your industry at large. Do you want to embrace a colour palette that’s tried and safe or choose something different to stand out?
5. Be consistent
Consistency is key. Once you’ve settled on a colour scheme, use it in all your marketing, including your website, social media, business cards, and brochures.
Typography, similarly to colour, conveys the values and the tone of your brand, and influences your audience’s perception of your business. Unappealing fonts tend to reflect badly on the readers’ emotional response to content, which is why you should give your typography choices careful consideration.
Your brand typography consists of a typeface – the name of your font family, for example Times New Roman – and fonts – meaning the weights, widths, and styles of your typeface – for example Times New Roman, 12, bold.
Different fonts carry distinct connotations. While minimal sans-serifs signify stability, objectivity and a more modern approach, serifs portray tradition, sophistication and a formal tone. Thin sans-serifs can create a refined, high-end feel, while thick and rounded ones signal fun, youthfulness and a welcoming vibe. Script fonts can depict elegance or creativity; and geometrical fonts represent structure. The type of audience you’re trying to attract will determine what kind of typeface is best for you.
Here are some tips to guide your brand typography choices:
1. Choose a font that matches your brand personality and target audience
Do you want your clients to see you as a fun, young creative, who’s passionate and personable? Would you rather they think of you as a mature professional, providing premium services? What main feature of your business do you want to highlight: sincerity, competence, excitement? Whatever the image you want to portray, make sure the fonts you choose match it.
2. Avoid walls of text
Remember that the way people consume content online is different from how they do it offline. When on the web, people look at headings and highlighted bits of text first, rarely bothering to read the entirety of a page. Make sure your website’s text is properly structured to make it more user-friendly. Break it up by using different sizes and weights of your chosen font (or fonts), as well as visual design elements or subtle animations.
3. Make your typography flexible, legible, and multi-platform oriented
Choose fonts that work equally well across all mediums, such as online, print and mobile devices. Make sure the typefaces you choose have a certain contrast between them and establish a hierarchy when combining two different fonts – for instance use one for headings and the other one for subheadings and main text. Lastly, ensure your text is perfectly legible in large or small letters, as well as lowercase and uppercase. Headings can be slightly less legible and more stylised but they should still remain easily comprehensible for your reader.
High quality photographs are another key element of your visual identity and a must for any professional website. They help set the tone of your business, break up your website’s design with relevant visuals, and most importantly showcase the person behind the brand.
If you have the option to set up a professional photoshoot, go for it. If you do, make sure you:
1. Discuss your visual identity, including website design, with your photographer before the shoot
That way they’ll know the general style and tone that you’re going for, and it will help them produce images that match that style, and thus fit the overall aesthetic of your site, and by extension, your brand.
2. Make sure to capture a variety of shots
While people-focused shots are a must, they are not the only type of photograph you should get out of your shoot. Try capturing your work environment too, pictures that can help set the tone, illustrate your services or give an insight into you as a person.
3. Capture some filler images
Think about images that can be used as accents or backgrounds across your page – capturing these will help you have more creative control over your visual identity.
If you can’t set up a professional photoshoot, don’t worry – you can still get high-quality, relevant images by using stock photographs.
Stock photographs are a great way to give your website a more professional feel, and contrary to some might think, they don’t have to look cold, corporate or generic. It’s all about the choices you make.
Here are a few tips for using stock images in your branding materials:
1. Use free picture banks to save money
While there are tens of different paid sources to use, don’t forget about free picture banks, like unsplash.com or pexels.com. They have a great selection too and can help you save money that might be better spent elsewhere.
2. Use relevant filters to narrow down the number of images suggested
Search for photos of the right size and orientation (horizontal or vertical), made up of colours that go well with your brand’s colour palette.
3. Choose photos that match your brand personality
If you’re going for a cosy, intimate look, use close-up images with soft, blurry backgrounds. If you’re aiming for a more corporate, high-profile vibe, consider using pictures of high-rise buildings or conference rooms. If the atmosphere you’re going for is light and airy, choose images that are soft-coloured, simple and minimalistic. If you want to create a bolder look, pick images with strong, saturated colours and high contrast.
Remember – don’t choose each photograph in isolation. They all have to work together to create a consistent and harmonious brand image.
Photographs are not the only important images to think about in your branding. All the other visuals elements you use in your marketing materials – including icons, shapes, lines and patterns – play an equally crucial role in your visual brand-building.
Shapes in particular carry powerful connotations that help you portray a certain image. Soft, circular shapes can convey gentleness, friendliness or inclusivity – depending on the context they’re used in. Sharper, angular shapes can be perfect for communicating precision, intelligence and stability.
Vertical lines can represent strength or superiority, while horizontal lines can evoke feelings of security as well as speed or movement.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a way to make your brand stand out even more, consider adding a pattern to your visual identity mix. Patterns can add interest to your design, both digital and print, and give your brand more of a unique flair, making it more recognisable.
Now comes the good part!
With all your new-gained insight into how visual identity works, you can start the exciting process of crafting (or improving) your own. When done well, it can really help to take your translation or interpreting business to the next level.
What do you want people to think when they see your brand? What’s the main element you want to highlight in the visual identity of your business?
Do you have any other tips you’ve found helpful along the way as a freelancer or small business owner?
Let us know!