As humans, the world is a visual space. We comprehend the world around us, including people, places, and things, based on what we can see. It’s our primary sense and generates strong emotional responses.
That’s why, as a business owner, you must put everything you have into your organization’s visual identity. You must put time, effort, and care into visually representing your business if you want to make a meaningful and memorable impact on new customers.
A brand’s visual identity can evoke emotions, ease fears, provide a sense of quality, and harken back to memories (positive and negative) that might impact buying decisions. Of course, while a strong visual identity can positively impact customers and push them toward your brand, a poor visual identity can have the exact opposite effect.
That’s why it’s essential to understand what a visual identity is, why it’s vital to your success, and how it can resonate with your audience. In this article, we’re going to show nine ways ways your visual identity can help you win over new customers and keep them coming back well into the future.
What is a brand visual identity?
A brand visual identity is composed of the various visual elements of your company. It’s a collection of content that customers can see, which ultimately reminds them of your brand.
Content marketing articles and leadership books contain much information about brand visual identity. It’s one of the most important aspects of branding because it expresses the purpose and overall image of the company.
A solid visual identity contains elements like:
- A color palette
- Typography (What color is your font? Are you using serif font? Arial?)
Simply put, your visual identity encompasses any visual element that might convey your brand personality, whether it’s using Sans Serif, leaning into the color red, or showcasing your content through fun and informative illustrated infographics.
That’s why businesses typically put a lot of thought into the various elements of their visual identity. Anything a customer sees that’s associated with your brand says something about your company. That’s why it’s always best to have a well-thought-out visual identity recorded and implemented company-wide.
You see this a lot through large brands like Apple or McDonald’s. Apple uses stylish grays, while McDonald’s uses red as a primary branding color. Then you have the iconic Apple logo. The signature white accessories like earbuds, power cords, and even the lowercase “i” in product names like the iPhone, iPad, iMac, iPod, etc.
McDonald’s uses blocky bold letters and iconic golden arches to express its brand to consumers. These brands are instantly recognizable worldwide because of a commitment to a robust and consistent visual identity.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to have multiple visual identities if they have multiple products.
Take Coca-Cola as a prime example. You have the traditional red and white Coca-Cola, the gray and red Diet Coke, the black and red Coke Zero Sugar, and even purple and black Cherry Coke.
|Coke Zero Sugar
The table above shows how Coca-Cola distinguishes its visual identity between its products. Each product has two to three colors as a signature look.
How is a visual identity different from a brand identity?
A brand visual identity is different from a brand identity. The two concepts serve the same purpose, but they’re in no way the same.
Your brand identity involves all non-visual elements of your brand. It’s the skeleton of your brand guidelines, existing beneath the surface, providing structure, and holding everything together.
A brand identity encompasses aspects of your brand like the:
- Messaging tone
- Brand values
- Mission statement
- Editorial guidelines
- And much more
Meanwhile, your brand visual identity involves everything on the outside that’s directly facing the customer. So while your brand’s typography might be an essential part of your visual identity, the tone of voice and editorial guidelines conveyed in the content would fall under brand identity.
Your content might come from different sources, such as an AI writing tool or a professional copywriter. Still, it would all ultimately have the same appearance and overall feel, thanks to your visual identity.
Why does your visual identity matter?
Your visual identity matters because it influences customer perceptions and showcases your brand story. Your brand’s visual identity dictates people’s perception of you. Are you laid back and fun? Professional and efficient? Do you want to convey a sense of soothing relaxation to your target audience, or are you trying to show strength they can rely on when facing horrifying pain points?
Visual identity is vital for any type of company. Businesses rely on their ability to reveal their mission and purpose while using eye-catching visuals to attract potential customers.
For example, BreadCrumbs, a lead scoring software company, chose original, creative, and intriguing visuals. The company’s visual identity helps it generate more interest among potential customers. You can see more in the image below.
As you can see, elements of this brand’s visual identity are everywhere you look. And that’s just the top of its homepage. You have brand colors, with vibrant yellows, standout purple, and informative black.
You have a chosen, consistent font that walks the line between laidback and official.
Then you have an original, eye-catching logo that’ll make a great first impression. The human eye can process all that in as little as 13 milliseconds.
Establishing a strong brand identity allows you to set yourself apart from competitors and promote your personality, consistency, awareness, and loyalty among the business and customers.
Your brand is the company’s identity. This image will be shown to all employees and customers, making it one of your company’s most valuable assets.
For example, suppose you run a cleaning business that sells car cleaning products like floor mat cleaner, interior cleaner, leather cleaner, or tire shine, and your main customers are students. In that case, you can focus your visual identity around excitement, cleanliness, and a coolness factor that younger drivers will feel.
If you were trying to attract an older crowd, you might use more subdued colors that speak toward parents trying to keep a car clean while their children throw food around in the back seat.
Whatever imagery you choose would be pushed out through all your communication channels, like social media content, email marketing, your website, and any offline media, like ads, commercials, or signage at physical locations.
Now that we’ve discussed the basics, it’s time to dive into how you can use your visual identity to win over new customers.
1. Create a recognizable brand
The first and most prominent way your visual identity can win over new customers is by helping you create an instantly recognizable brand. That’s the end goal here. You want to become a regular part of the lives of your customers.
You want them to see your logo, colors, and font choice and instantly think of you. We see this at work through almost every major brand in the world, from fast food giants to retail shops. The Walmart and Target logos are synonymous with those brands, as are their color schemes.
They’re recognizable because of their consistency over time. These brands chose a color scheme and logo concept and stuck with them until they were fully ingrained within the hearts and minds of target audiences.
The same could be said of the Walt Disney Company, which chose to use its founder Walt Disney’s signature as a part of its logo design. Disney’s signature and iconic three-circle Mickey Mouse logo created an instantly recognizable visual identity for the massive global brand.
2. Catch the eye of consumers
You want your visual identity to be eye-catching and stand out in a crowded market. That’s why it’s essential to gauge what interests your audience and feed into that in instantly recognizable ways.
For instance, if you were running a fitness company, you’d be trying to catch the eye of people who want to lose weight and get fit. Featuring imagery of strong, in-shape people with bold colors like reds and yellows would instantly pull the eye of a person that wants to gain muscle.
Consumers today are inundated with marketing imagery. In fact, the average consumer sees up to 10,000 ads every day. So, how can your visual identity strike that specific nerve with your consumers? What can you do in such a deep content pool to make your target demographic turn their head to look at you?
Unfortunately, there’s no precise answer to this. It depends on your audience and their specific likes, dislikes, and preferences. We’ll cover that in more detail a little later on.
3. Forge a personal connection
One of the most valuable aspects of a winning brand visual identity is its ability to create personal connections with your audience members. You can use your color choices, typography, imagery, and logo to connect with particular emotions and tug on the heartstrings of your buyers.
After some time and positive interactions with your brand and products, your logo will start connecting to positive memories for them. They’ll feel that personal connection subconsciously.
Let’s use Disney as an example again. If your family has taken many memorable and joy-filled vacations to Disney’s theme parks over the years, then the Disney logo will start to take on a different meaning for you. It won’t just harken back to movies you may or may not like. It connects to the smile on your dad’s face or the time your brother got to hug Mickey Mouse.
That’s an example of a lifelong personal connection that’s hard to break. While it might not be as easy for a retail company to capture hearts and minds as something like a vacation resort can, you can still become a treasured part of your customer’s memories.
Your visual identity is the mental bridge to that emotional connection.
4. Communicate with colors
The color palette you choose can invoke many emotions in your customer. Depending on what you’re trying to sell, your colors can go a long way toward putting someone in the right mindset to trust you and experience what you have to offer.
The children’s television network Nickelodeon did this for years with its signature orange logos and bold cartoonish font. Because kids were its primary audience, Nick chose a bright, fun, unique color, typically set on a white background.
Nickelodeon stated that one of the reasons it went with this color palette was that it “symbolizes happiness and evokes smiles.”
Another example of this comes from Honeycomb Insurance, a company that offers insurance to building owners and property managers. It chose a straightforward yet effective color scheme that might seem familiar.
It uses white and orange, just like Nickelodeon, but in a very different way. While Nickelodeon focused more on the orange to elicit a fun and jovial childlike feel, Honeycomb uses white as its primary color with orange and black accents. This makes it look clean and professional.
5. Appeal directly to your target audience
Create your visual identity specifically with your target audience in mind. You’re not just trying to catch the eye of consumers. You’re trying to catch the eye of the right consumers — AKA the people who are most likely to purchase your product.
You should have a wealth of information on your ideal customer, like their:
- Geographic location
- Messaging preferences
- Marital status
- Preferred platforms
- Income level
- Pain points
Your visual identity should consider all of these points and more. If your customers seek pain relief, a visual identity based on soothing colors like blues and whites might appeal directly to them. Going with a color like red because you think it looks nice would be counterintuitive, as it might remind them of blinding red pain.
Every business should have buyer personas created for each segment of its target audience. When designing your visual identity, look for similarities between these buyer personas and find imagery, typeface, colors, and more that appeal to the audience.
6. Use powerful imagery
The imagery you choose will ultimately significantly attract new customers and close sales. That’s why images are some of your most vital visual assets.
Creating a visual brand identity without quality visual resources is almost impossible. Of course, your company may not have enough funds to hire a professional graphic designer at the beginning. Therefore, it’s ideal for startups to use various Google tools designed to generate visuals.
You mustn’t skimp on the images associated with your brand. Remember, the quality of these images can say a lot about your company and go a long way toward making a positive first impression on your audience.
That’s why they need to look polished, professional, and appealing. That won’t happen if you’re using standard software in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Thankfully, there are now poster templates, AI design tools, and other high-end software solutions that can help you create polished images at a fraction of the time and cost.
7. Make it simple and easy to understand
You don’t want to overcomplicate your visual identity. The goal is for new customers to see your imagery and quickly understand what you provide. You can create a straightforward logo, use colors that align with your industry and product line, and present clear images without much busy nonsense.
Let’s look at an example of a company that communicates through simple and easy-to-understand minimalist imagery.
Briteco is a company that sells engagement ring insurance, so it incorporates simple imagery associated with this through its visual identity. You’ll see a screenshot from Briteco’s website in the image above. This is the first thing people see when they come to the site, and instantly, the simplistic visual identity is effectively displayed.
First, you have the logo in the upper left. It’s simple and effective with a stylized diamond on it. Then you have the main images on the right hand of the screen, showing various engagement rings. You’ll immediately understand that this company deals with diamonds and rings. If the company had overthought the process, it could have created a confusing browser experience that hid its overall purpose.
The typeface on display here also helps you understand they’re not actually selling diamond rings. Typically, jewelry stores will include a swooping cursive type that conveys a sense of elegance and class. But this simple font and effective copy showcase the practicality and convenience of the service.
8. Create something unique
Your brand visual identity can attract new customers if it’s unique and different from your competitors.
When you play it safe and bite off what your rivals are doing, you risk customers seeing your content and instantly thinking of someone else. If your chief competitor is larger and more well-known than you, this is even more of a threat.
Here’s a great example of this concept at work from the dental company Dentfix. Below, you’ll see an infographic posted on this company’s site about a dental issue known as Turkey Teeth.
In this example, you’ll see that the company chose to go with an animated drawing that showcases a ton of helpful information.
Now, let’s compare that to an image from a competitor’s blog.
This company went a much different route, allowing the written copy of its article to explain the topic while opting for a visual identity focusing on stock photos. By providing visual information in the form of cartoon infographics, Dentifix differentiated itself from this competitor and forged its own identity.
9. Keep your visual identity consistent
When trying to draw in new customers using your visual identity, consistency is key. The only way you’ll be able to stick in the hearts and minds of your target audience is by staying on-brand and providing them with a consistent brand experience across platforms.
That means your visual style should be the same on your:
- Social media pages
- Digital ads
- Business cards
- Physical location
- Print ads
- Landing pages
Include the same visual identity anywhere customers might encounter your brand. To help with multi-platform consistency, ensure you keep track of all brand assets, including graphics, colors, and vector images. Your brand design team should have a central location from which they can pull these resources.
Likewise, the web designer and marketing team should draw from the same brand style guide and resources.
A straightforward visual identity across all communication channels will encourage visitors to read more and go deeper into what your business has to offer.
For instance, Matchr, a business that connects HR experts with the best HRIS software, has a straightforward yet effective brand identity on its website’s contact page. The company uses a white background, the proper font style, size, and color.
Now, let’s compare this page to another page on the same website.
The visual identity remains consistent with the same white background, the same black typeface, the same font, and the same overall layout. If someone had read this article and gone to the contact page to ask a question only to find a completely different color scheme and design, they might think they made a mistake and click away.
A lack of brand consistency could lead to abandonment, so make sure you give it some careful thought.
There’s so much that you can do as a business owner to ensure that you’re presenting the best possible product and reaching the highest number of potential customers with your brand strategy. This includes vital tasks like hiring the right writer, putting a marketing plan in place, communicating your core values, choosing a brand voice for your company, and more.
But chief among those tasks should be creating consistent and powerful visual identity that appeals to your target audience and pulls in new prospects, creating a sense of brand recognition and establishing your company.