Like it or not, rightly or wrongly, first impressions matter, especially when it comes to your brand. All it takes is a matter of seconds for prospective buyers to make an impression of your brand and its products or services.
This is why it is crucial to underscore the importance of having a distinctive visual identity. If you have a strong visual identity, it will become easier for you to make an emotional connection with your target audience.
At the end of the day, brands should look at things from the customer’s perspective — how they see, think, and perhaps more importantly, feel about brand campaigns. And a great deal about these responses hinges upon visual identity.
Ideally, everything should emanate from your visual style that must be followed from the start to finish of a campaign. Although there should be ample leeway for modifications, the overarching theme should remain necessarily the same.
What exactly is brand identity?
Brand identity emanates from your brand values. It goes beyond your logo and extends to the different marketing materials you use, both online and offline. These include brochures, flyers, reports, business cards, stationery, signage, websites, and packaging.
Brand identity is crucial for a few reasons:
● It builds personality
Your brand identity is built upon your brand values and creates a personality. This helps you create an emotional connection with your target audience.
- It creates consistency in messaging
When you use different platforms for marketing your products or services, a strong brand identity allows you to deliver a consistent message across these. This can be done by using the same design and style elements across each platform that you choose to use.
● It sets your brand apart
In a congested marketplace where there are several competitors, a strong brand identity can set your brand apart.
● It cultivates awareness and loyalty
Consistency in brand identity across the different marketing materials you use allows you to boost brand awareness, making your products stand out and become memorable to your customers.
Apart from that, cultivating a strong brand identity helps build trust and loyalty in your customers as you continuously build upon the connection you have made.
What are the characteristics of a strong visual identity?
Although there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating a robust brand identity, there are a few basics that leading branding agencies in Dubai use.
First, your visual identity must be able to stand out from your competitors. When a person looks at your marketing material or product packaging, he should be able to distinguish it from your competitors’ materials or packaging instantly. However, it is essential to note that differentiation, when taken to the extremes, can backfire. Apart from making your product or service stand out, it is vitally important to send one key message – what makes your brand unique.
Second, consistency is key. This applies to both online and offline platforms. Although you may want to mix your campaigns from time to time, like in your special offers and seasonal campaigns, your visual identity should stand out consistently. Consistency will help imbue your brand with a sense of confidence and professionalism.
Simply put, a robust visual identity leaves no room for misinterpretation. This is crucial in an age when there are several competing brands, not to mention remarkable speed by which online communities scrutinize products and services.
How do you create a strong visual identity?
It all begins with your audience. A lot of startup businesses fall for the trap of thinking that building a brand should center around the owner, but such is not the case. When you are trying to create a narrative for your brand, you should put your customers front and center.
And before you can tell your story, you have to know who the central character is. That can be achieved through a variety of techniques, including surveys and polls and monitoring on social media.
As your brand evolves to reflect its growth and changes, the need to rework your logo as well as your slogan may arise. However, it is vital to retain certain elements which will serve as an anchor for continuity. Without this continuity, you and your loyal customers may feel like you are starting anew. Customers, specifically, may feel abandoned, and the attachment they have made with you could suddenly vanish.
What are the foundations of a strong brand identity?
Your logo goes practically in all your campaigns and communications. As such, pay close attention to logo design. At the onset, you may have to go through several design drafts before finding one that best fits your brand.
Once you have a logo, the next step that you need to undertake is to create a color palette. Take a close look at the most recognizable brands. You will immediately notice how these brands are consistent with their usage of colors. You do not have to choose several hues. More often than not, a handful is more than enough.
After you have chosen colors for your palette, the next order of business is to determine which fonts to use for your communications and campaigns. Like colors, fonts should match the tone and feel of your business.
On visually driven platforms, you will need to curate the images that you use carefully, be it on your website and social media or for your print campaigns. The pictures you use should not stray from the key message that you wish to deliver.
Finally, pay attention to how these different visual elements are laid out. It is not enough to get these different elements done right individually. Beyond that, you have to find the optimal layout that brings a logical flow to how these images are brought together.
A final word
You won’t get things right on your first try, or the second, or the third. When you are finding your true visual identity, it would be helpful to perform some tests until you find the right elements that mesh well and enable you to communicate your brand’s philosophy to your target audience.
Grace Yacoub is the owner, founder and CEO at Zaman. She recognized the potential to develop brands in Dubai back in 1996. Amongst her first projects were to convert the local powerhouses of Etisalat and NBD into branded entities and engage the nation in the drive for modernity. She has since led projects across finance, family, industry, property, retail and all sectors to convert many of the region’s most important companies into powerful brands.