When someone asks me – what do you think of my logo? I always have to ask more questions before I can answer with confidence. Because it’s not about what I think, or even what you think, it’s always about what your customers think. A Brand Visual Identity should be designed with your customers in mind.
Today, more than ever, we need to do everything we can to ensure we have the best possible chance of being seen, standing out and being selected – in whatever field we operate. With an over-crowded marketplace in just about every category across every industry, your brand sits at the heart of your business, and it needs to deliver the right message to the right people.
Small businesses often overlook the importance of branding because of their business size, but the facts are businesses large and small cannot underestimate the power of having a strong and unique brand.
At the heart of your brand, is your visual brand identity. How well you deliver your messages is determined by how strong your visual identity is. Your visual identity is a crucial link between who you are as a brand, what you do and how your customers perceive you. It’s often the first thing people see when they come into contact with your business and leaves a lasting impression that’s hard to change!
First let’s make sure you’re clear what a Visual Identity is …
A Brand’s Visual Identity is the unique combination of all of your visual elements working together to deliver your messages to your audience.
Your visual elements include:
- Your Brand Name
- A Tagline
- Your Logo
Now let’s take one step back
BEFORE YOU START DESIGNING …there are some critical things you need to address that often get overlooked … Your Brand Strategy
This is the work that business owners often like to skip, or fast-track – but without a clear brand strategy, you won’t get an accurate representation of your business no matter how good your designer is or how much money you spend on it.
Here’s a few essential elements of a good brand strategy.
- Brand Positioning – the distinctive place you occupy in the minds of your customers
- A clear path forward for your business with Vision/Mission/Values
- An in depth understanding of your Target Audience
- Brand Architecture – a plan as to how your brand will grow
- Brand Personality – the attributes that will connect with your audience
Armed with this knowledge, the creative process becomes clear and you can make confident decisions about what is needed and how strong your visual identity is.
10 ways to test the strength of your Brand Visual Identity.
If you’re doubtful about the effectiveness of your visual identity, here’s a few ideas to test it for yourself.
- Pride and confidence test.
How well you deliver your brand is dependent upon how confident you are. If you’re putting out messages wondering if they’re right, thinking your logo could be better or you’re embarrassed by your website, you’re not going to pass this test. If you’re not confident with your brand, how will you expect your customers to react when it comes to placing their hard earned money with you?
- Clarity test.
A brand can become diluted over many years of growth and change. It may appear clear to us, but it’s your customers that have to keep up with your changes and updates. Tweaking graphics, changing content, adjusting messaging can all lead to confusion for the customer. Take a look at what is showing up from the past too, if you’ve closed down websites or made significant changes over the years, there could be clouded messages from the past that could be adding to the confusion.
- Uniqueness test.
How do you stack up on google? Have you Googled your name recently, see who else shows up? Brand names are becoming increasingly hard to own and keep clean, so it’s a good idea to keep abreast of who else might have popped up that could be encroaching on your brand name space.
- Customer test.
Ask your customers what they think. This is something that seems so obvious, but very often forgotten. Does your visual identity reflect your current services? Do they understand what you do, how you do it, the quality you offer, the position in the marketplace? Or are you not reflecting your true products or services – customers might be getting a false impression of who you are and what you offer. If there is a lack of understanding around your products or services you will be losing opportunities.
- Future aspirations test.
Is your visual identity going to take you where you want to go? If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have a vision for the future and a brand architecture as to how you’d like to grow. When you look at your visual identity – is it built for growth, does it inspire you to be better at what you do, deliver more or better quality? Or is it reflecting who you were and not up to your current standards?
- Personality test.
What are the words that come to mind when you look at your visual identity? If you’ve got a personality brand matrix, supported by some inspiring mood boards you’ll be able to quickly see how well your visual identity is delivering your personality. Are you bold, interesting, quirky and fun? Or quiet, sensible, traditional and safe?
- Top of mind test.
Is your visual identity memorable and unique? Are you going to appear on the list of your top 5 competitors? Or is it going to blend into the background and get lost amongst the crowds?
- Professional test.
Has your visual identity been carefully created and crafted with the same level of care and attention that you put into your products or services? Is the design quality up to your high standards of professional delivery? Professional designers deliver professional results, if you’re living with an identity that is legacy from the past, a favour from a mate or a quick fix get you going job, your business will be poorly represented.
- Consistency test.
When you look across your brand communication and digital platforms, how consistent is what you see? Fonts, colours, styles, messages … do they deliver a clear and consistent message that is cohesive with your business plan? Are you happy with what you see? Will your customer be getting mixed messages and a miss mash collection of design styles, logos and fonts?
- Satisfaction test.
And the ultimate test, do you enjoy delivering your brand and sit back with satisfaction at the end of the week knowing you’ve created and delivered strong content that is on-brand, clear and taking you where you want to go – knowing you have a high level strategy in place and a plan to follow that will get you there.
A lot to think about, but it’s worth the time to ask the hard questions.
Score yourself out of ten for each question and if you score below a 7 or 8, it might be time to think about taking steps to update your visual identity.
If you are interested in visual identity checkout this article Are you delivering Your Brand with Confidence
Or you’ve found this information to be useful, please share it with others who might also benefit.
To gain more insight into our Branding process follow this link to The Brand Plan