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Visual Branding: How to Make a Strong Identity

Visual Branding: How to Make a Strong Identity

Visual branding, also called graphic design, is the art and science of presenting information visually using words, pictures, symbols, colours, typefaces, and shapes. 

Visual branding is an integral part of all forms of marketing and communication. It can help create a positive impression of your business or brand, helping to persuade customers to buy your product or service.

You're probably familiar with the concept of brand identity. As your business grows and evolves, it becomes more critical that you have a clear, distinct visual identity. So, how can you build the strongest visual brand for your business? And how can you implement visual branding into your marketing strategy? 

Visual branding uses images, videos, icons, logos, and other visuals to tell a story about your business, service, or product. It gives your customers a reason to choose your business over the competition.

You've seen it all before. You've been around the block or at least the corner. You've done the usual things. You've tried the same old marketing methods and tried to be different.

The problem is that your identity doesn't stand out. It's boring. It's the same old thing, again and again. And if you're trying to make a difference in the world, that will not work. But that's what you do if you're stuck with the same old identity.

Today, we're going to talk about visual branding.

Why is visual branding important?

Because it's the only way you can truly make a strong, memorable, unique and powerful identity for yourself.

So let's get started.

What Is Visual Branding?

Toyota Rebranding

Branding is a word or image that conveys a company's identity. In the context of design, it refers to creating visual elements that communicate the brand to the public.

Branding has become a buzzword in business over the past decade, often referred to as “visual communication.” Some see branding as a strategy to attract potential customers, while others focus on the importance of a brand's logo or other branding materials.

Some brands are defined by the design of products or services, while others are defined by their names and logos. Regardless of the type of branding, one thing remains true: a brand's visual elements are the first thing consumers see.

So, What's Visual Branding All About?

Visual branding includes designing everything from a product's packaging to the logo's colour. The visual aspect of branding represents the sum of the elements that make up a company's image, including:

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Visual branding can also include the overall look and feel of a product, such as the use of wood, metal, or plastic. In addition, the shape of a product can be part of its visual branding. For example, a wine bottle is shaped in a specific way to convey its premium status.

Visual branding affects how consumers perceive a company and what they think about the brand. Consumers might perceive a high-end brand as prestigious or a low-end brand as cheap.

The point is that visual branding is just one of the tools a brand uses to establish a connection with customers. While visual branding is the most prominent part of a brand, it's just one element of a larger strategy to capture consumer attention.

Visual branding isn't just limited to branding for physical products. Designers of websites and apps can utilise branding to create a unique experience that makes consumers feel more comfortable with the site.

Visual branding is a powerful tool in the hands of an experienced designer. Understanding your audience is key to designing effective visual branding. When designing branding for your brand, consider what you want your audience to think about your company, and don't forget to balance these thoughts with your goals for the brand.

What Does Visual Branding Mean For My Brand?

Visual Cues Marketing-Friendly Website

When it comes to your brand, visual branding is the most crucial aspect.

You already have a name and a logo that represent your company. Now, you need to create an image that consumers connect with. A successful visual brand is like a reflection of your business's personality.

Visual branding is the first thing consumers will see when they encounter your business. When you are thinking about your visual brand, think about your target market, your values, and the quality of your products. Then, think about how your visual brand should reflect these qualities.

In a nutshell, your visual brand should reflect your brand's personality.

Think about your logo as your brand's face. It is the first thing your audience will see. As a designer, you want to choose a logo that is memorable, distinctive and representative of your brand.

Think of your visual brand as your brand's voice. Your visual brand should convey your brand's personality, whether it's playful, serious, or entirely different. For example, if your brand is a sports team, your logo may be the silhouette of a player.

Your visual brand should reinforce your brand's values. By choosing a logo that reflects your brand's values, your audience can tell that you are committed to your values.

Think of your visual brand as your brand's style. The way your products are presented can also impact your visual brand. For example, if you are a flower shop, your visual brand might be floral or nature-themed.

Think about the environment where your business operates. This is called your brand's setting. Your visual brand should reflect the setting of your business, whether it's a restaurant, a grocery store, or a clothing boutique.

Your visual brand should be consistent across all of your business's channels. When a customer sees the same visual branding, it reinforces the idea that the brand belongs to the company and represents a certain quality.

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For example, if your company sells a product online and in a brick-and-mortar store, your visual brand should be consistent across all channels.

Does Visual Branding Have to Look the Same Across Channels?

There's no reason your visual brand has to look the same across your channels. For example, your logo may be a football player on one channel and a bird on another.

You can incorporate the same elements across your channels when creating a visual brand. However, choosing a different logo for each channel is usually best. This will make it easier for your audience to understand which channel your company operates from.

Why Developing a Visual Brand Identity Matters

Brand Visual Idenity Infographic

A good brand identity can create a lasting impression on customers. When you first interact with your customers, you make a first impression. That impression, positive or negative, has the power to shape your business, so it's essential to think about how you want to be perceived and how that perception might impact your business.

While everyone recognises the importance of an excellent first impression, the visual branding process is often overlooked until your brand is well established. That's a mistake because the process of creating your brand identity can help your business start on the path to success.

You may assume that visual branding is about designing your logo and hearing your company's name. Still, there's so much more involved in an excellent visual branding strategy.

To create a good visual identity for your business, you'll need to answer these questions:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What do they want to see when they interact with your brand?
  • What are the values of your brand?
  • What should your logo and other visual elements look like?
  • How can you present yourself visually?
  • What does the image represent, and what should the message be?

To ensure a consistent message across all aspects of your business, the visual branding process involves a lot of research and planning.

What Are the Benefits of a Visual Brand Identity?

Your brand is a reflection of your business, so a clear visual identity can help you:

When developing a visual brand identity for your business, it's essential to:

  1. Consider your audience and the purpose of your branding.
  2. Think about your customer's needs and wants
  3. Identify your competitors' brands and the way they present themselves.
  4. Consider the tone and mood of your business.
  5. Develop your company's culture and philosophy

What Should I Focus on During the Visual Branding Process?

A visual brand identity is only part of the equation, so you'll want to consider the whole picture. For example, you may want to focus on creating a logo, but your website, social media profiles, and other marketing materials should be consistent with that design. If you're worried about keeping up with the updates, it's easier to hire a freelance graphic designer to complete the work for you.

As with any part of your business, getting input from your customers and stakeholders is essential. This is especially true of a visual brand identity, which can be a significant investment for your company. If a brand doesn't already represent your business, it's an ideal time to start the process.

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5 Main Elements of Visual Branding

As you develop a brand identity for your company or product, it's important to consider five elements that comprise visual branding.

Your Brand Style

Skype Style Guidelines For Branding

You should establish a style that communicates what makes your brand unique and memorable. Your style should be distinctive and recognisable.

This doesn't mean you must limit yourself to a single colour scheme, font, or logo. Instead, you should focus on a few core elements that you want to make your brand distinct. For example, if you're selling pet supplies, your style could include images of cats or dogs, and it may be appropriate to use a primary colour palette of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and black.

A Brand Voice

Once you've established a visual brand style, finding a voice to go along with it is crucial. Your brand's voice is a combination of words and phrases you'd expect to hear on a product packaging or website.

You may use your brand voice to describe what you offer your customers, such as “the most comprehensive pet supplies on the market” or “the fastest pet delivery service in the country.” It may also communicate your mission, values, and personality, like “proudly providing high-quality products” or “helping pet parents find the right products for their pets.”

Your brand voice should always be consistent. You'll unlikely have the same voice for every aspect of your company.

A Brand Mission

Once you've defined a brand style, you can consider how your company's mission relates to it. For example, if your brand is a pet care product company, your mission might be to improve the lives of pets worldwide. You could deliver this message through your brand voice and style.

It's important to remember that your mission statement is a guiding principle, not a detailed description of your entire business. For example, you may focus on a specific product line while your mission focuses on helping needy animals.

As you define your brand, think about the emotional impact that it will have on your target audience. Will it evoke positive feelings in customers, or will it make them uncomfortable or angry? If it's the latter, it's possible that your brand won't resonate.

Nike Mission Statement Branding

A Brand Philosophy

Once you've established a brand voice and mission, you can consider your brand's impact on customers. You may use your brand to help solve problems for your customers. For example, a pet food company could promise that their products are nutritious and wholesome so that people can feed their pets the proper nutrition.

In this case, your brand philosophy is that “nutrition is the key to a healthy diet.” Your brand would also express that it's essential to take the time to enjoy spending with your pets. Your brand philosophy may also include information about the ingredients in your products or even a commitment to ethical treatment of the animals.

In some cases, a company's brand may evolve. For example, a local grocery store may begin as a family-owned business, but it may eventually attract customers from a broader region and grow into a chain. The grocery store's brand identity would change as it evolved, but it would maintain a focus on the original customer base.

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A Brand Identity

Once you've considered your brand's mission, style, voice, and philosophy, you can create your brand's identity. A brand identity is a collection of symbols that convey the meaning and values of your brand.

There are no universal rules for what these symbols should be. Some companies use an iconic image as their brand identity, like Nike's famous swoosh. Other brands may have a single word or phrase as a symbol, like “love” or “innovation.” However, it's essential to find appropriate symbols for your brand.

It may be that your brand's style is already familiar to your audience. For example, a brand that sells pet supplies might choose a classic visual style with images of dogs, cats, or other pets.

Brand identity may also include colours, fonts, or logos. However, it's unlikely that you'll want to replicate the look of a competitor's logo. Instead, you'll probably want to make a few small, subtle changes that communicate the brand's style, voice, and values.

Your brand identity should be unique, but it should also complement the overall visual style of your brand. Your brand should stand out from competitors, but it shouldn't feel too flashy or overbearing.

Characteristics of a Good Visual Identity

Create Mascot Brand Identity

An excellent visual identity has three characteristics: consistency, relevance, and authenticity. Consistency means that the identity must remain consistent daily, year to year, and across all communication channels. 

Relevance means that your audience sees your company, organisation, or business as an extension of themselves. Finally, authenticity means that you're telling your story correctly, using a suitable medium, and delivering the message in the proper context.

A successful visual identity includes these three characteristics, and if you're looking to build a brand, it's essential to understand the characteristics of good branding.

Consistency is a big part of any good visual identity, and it's easier to ensure that your visuals are consistent when you have a cohesive design system.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is starting with their logo or identity and building the rest of the brand around it. At the same time, it's common practice for companies to create a single, unified identity for all their products and services, ensuring that your visuals are relevant to the business and your audience is vital.

When you're thinking about your visual identity, make sure to consider the following points:

  • The audience: What does your audience want from your brand?
  • The message: How will the visuals you choose tell your story?
  • The medium: Will you use print or digital media to communicate your message?
  • The context: When should you use your visual identity, and what should your audience see when they first encounter your brand?

Relevance is more challenging than consistency because there's no standard for what's acceptable and what's not. The only way to ensure that your visuals are relevant is to develop a cohesive design system based on simplicity and universality principles.

Simplicity is easy to understand, easy to remember, and easier to create. It also allows you to focus your creative energy on the other two characteristics: relevance and authenticity.

Simplicity allows your brand to be both simple and universal. A good visual identity is a unique blend of design and content, and to ensure that your brand is both simple and universal, you must develop a visual language that is clear and effective.

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Visual brand language

Brand Language

Visual brand language is the name given to the words and phrases used to describe products and services. It's different from the branding strategy, which is the overall design of a company.

Visual brand language is a collection of your customers' words and phrases to discuss your products and services. The words you use in ads, packaging, websites, and social media. It's how they think about your products and services.

Recognising the people you are communicating with using language marketers and journalists have created over the years is essential. So, when developing your visual brand language, consider the language your target market uses to discuss products and services, including how they communicate online.

What Does Visual Brand Language Look Like?

When you think about the words that describe your products and services, you should consider whether they are positive or negative.


  • “Beautiful”
  • “Caring”
  • “Convenient”
  • “Durable”


  • “Unreliable”
  • “Overpriced”
  • “Not for me.”

Positive Words to Use in Your Visual Brand Language

To create positive visual brand language, focus on words that your customers and potential customers use to describe your products and services. When customers are talking about your company, it's helpful to understand what they say and why they say it.

It can be hard to understand the meaning of the words people use to describe your products and services. You need to use your brand voice to guide your chosen words. The brand voice is the voice of your company that makes sure your words and phrases are consistent and resonate with your customers.

A brand voice is like the character of your company, the way you speak, the tone of your communications, and how your customers and potential customers perceive your products and services.

How to Create Positive Visual Brand Language

  1. Understand the words that your customers and potential customers use to describe your products and services.
  2. Consider the words that you and your employees use when talking to customers. If you can hear their words, you'll be able to connect with them on a deeper level.
  3. Ask yourself why you would want your company to be known for those words. Then find ways to implement those words into your visuals and marketing materials.
  4. Use positive visual brand language in all your communications, including your website, advertising, and other media.

Visual Storytelling

Brand Storytelling Quote Seth Godin

When we see, we interpret information from our five senses to create meaning and a story.

Visual storytelling is how we tell stories in the form of pictures or videos.

Visual stories are popular with brands, celebrities, and other influential figures because they communicate messages quickly and efficiently. They are also more effective than text-based messaging since people are more emotionally engaged when viewing a visual story.

Visual storytelling is a great way to share messages, but it doesn't replace other forms of communication. People still need to hear a message before they accept it, so use visuals as part of a broader strategy for effective marketing.

Before using visual storytelling to connect with your audience, you need to create something compelling.

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Consider how the following elements will appear in your visuals. These factors will affect how you use visual storytelling, so it's important to know what you're looking for:

  • Object (what is it?)
  • Background (where is it?)
  • Lighting (how is it lit?)
  • Perspective (is it high or low?)
  • Composition (is it centred or off-centred?)
  • Focus (what is the subject of the image?)
  • Content (what is the purpose of the image?)

You'll also want to consider how your audience will experience the visuals.

  • Environment (are they alone, or are there other people?)
  • Time of day (morning or evening?)
  • Location (home or work?)
  • Interests (do they like or dislike sports?)

The purpose of your visuals is to make a point or convey a message. If your images don't fit these criteria, they're not engaging.

What to Look For

You need to make sure the visuals are relevant to your business.

  • Is it consistent with your brand?
  • Is it focused on a specific product or service?
  • Does it support the message you're trying to convey?

What makes a good visual is a combination of these factors. For example, a simple illustration of your product or service might work for a company that sells a basic product.

But a picture of a happy child on the beach might not be relevant to a company that provides counselling services to adults.

What's Next?

Use the following checklist to evaluate your visuals. These questions will help you decide if they're effective.

  • Are the visuals clear, well-focused, and consistent with the message you want to convey?
  • Is the composition strong and engaging?
  • Are the lighting, perspective, and framing consistent?
  • Is the background simple or complex?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions, then you're ready to start creating your first visual story.

Visual storytelling is one of the most potent ways to engage your customers and build your brand.


As an entrepreneur, there are so many things that you need to consider. One of the most important decisions you'll need to make is what kind of brand you want to represent.

For some, that's a simple matter of choosing a name. For others, it means creating a solid identity. This takes a little more thought and research, but the results are worth it.

The goal is to create a consistent message that your audience can recognise and remember. Your brand should tell them who you are and what you want to accomplish. It should help them understand your value proposition.

This is where visual branding comes in. To achieve this, you need to know a few things about design. You can probably skip this section if you have a designer on staff. Otherwise, you need to know a few things about design to create a cohesive and professional brand.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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