branding / business tips

What is visual identity, what are it’s elements and how does it impact your business growth?

There's a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the topic of visual identity. It's often clouded by myths and industry jargon, sometimes boiled down to just one aspect - the logo. In this article, we'll dive into these questions: What truly is visual identity, and what it is not? What makes up its core elements? What standards must it meet to truly benefit your business? We'll also explore why a solid visual identity is crucial for your company's success.

1. Visual identity meaning

What exactly is visual identity, anyway?

In simplest terms, visual identity is a collection of graphic elements that represent a brand and visually communicate with the right audience. However, to truly grasp the concept, we need to consider it in a broader context. Things get more complicated when we take into consideration our audience’s emotional reactions or the close connection between visual identity and brand strategy. Contrary to popular belief, creating a good, fitting visual identity isn’t a walk in the park.

… but what it is not?

Visual identity isn’t just about a logo or a bunch of pretty pictures. It’s not about following trends blindly without considering what truly reflects your brand’s essence. It’s not solely based on the designer’s or owner’s preferences either.

Every design decision should stem from strategic decisions made beforehand. These aspects guide us on how to shape the final look of the brand in a unique and authentic way. So, visual identity isn’t just about looking good, it’s also about building trust and evoking the right emotions and associations.

2. What are the essential elements of a visual identity?

The components of visual identity can vary based on various factors. Each business is unique, at a different stage of growth, and may have a different budget. Not every business will need printed materials like brochures or packaging. While certain elements like the logo, color palette, and typography are essential, the rest are tailored to meet specific needs and brand touch points.

  • Logo / Logotype - The primary and most commonly mentioned element is the logo (wordmark + symbol) or logotype (just the wordmark).
  • Brand Color Palette - Picking 3 to 5 main brand colors that are consistently used across all materials and communication channels.
  • Typography - Choosing fonts that represent the brand’s personality and are used consistently in all communications.
  • Additional graphic elements - Iconography, brand patterns, brand hero, etc.
  • Photography direction - Guidelines for post-production editing, photographic style, and applied effects.
  • Composition - Layout and rules guiding the behavior of individual elements in relation to each other.
  • Print materials - Such as business cards, flyers, packaging, posters, magazines, and more.
  • Digital design - Graphic designs for social media, e-books, as well as website design, interactions, animations, 3D, etc.

Brand Guidelines - These are essentially a rulebook that helps ensure consistency in applying the created brand identity system. They come in various forms, ranging from detailed multi-page documents to concise presentations highlighting the key elements.

Visual identity system BLOG TEXT photo: Visual Identity section - brand guidelines

3. What characteristics should a good visual identity have?

In a nutshell, visual identity aims to distinguish your brand in the market and foster deep relationships with customers. Below, we’ll answer the question: what criteria must it meet, and what makes a good visual identity?

  • Consistent - Consistency builds trust and enhances brand recognition. Poorly coordinated elements that don’t harmonize can create chaos and create an unprofessional image.
  • Memorable - A good visual identity should resonate with your audience, evoke positive emotions, and stick in their memory.
  • Unique - A good identity sets your brand apart from the competition. It should be preceded by an analysis of competitors to avoid repeating the same patterns in the industry and find a unique place for your business.
  • Authentic - The identity must be genuine, reflecting the values and vision without pretending to be something it’s not. Lack of authenticity is easily detected and risks losing trust.
  • Flexible and supportive of brand growth - A well-prepared identity system should function well in various contexts and support the creation of promotional materials in the future. It should be tailored to touchpoints and the skills of those who will later use the created elements. A good identity should also support the company’s growth and provide room for experimentation in the future.
  • Aesthetic - Good design and aesthetics are also crucial. It’s a highly subjective topic, but the main focus should be on your ideal customers and what resonates with them in the first place.

4. What impact does it have on your business growth?

Visual identity is one of the key elements of branding and building a brand’s identity. How a brand is perceived by customers is crucial for its success in the market. Both well and poorly designed identities can impact the development of your business in the future.

  1. An identity should catch the eye and foster trust. Consistently using its elements helps customers become familiar with the image, making it easier for them to recognize the brand in the future.
  2. Customer loyalty is key. When a company evokes positive associations and emotions with its product or service, customers are more likely to keep coming back and recommend the brand to others.
  3. A well-crafted identity directly affects perceived value. When a brand becomes synonymous with quality and professionalism, customers are willing to pay more for its products or services.
  4. It can give your company a competitive edge. When a brand becomes unmistakably recognizable and linked with positive emotions and values, it’s often chosen over competitors.
  5. A visual identity system streamlines the process of creating promotional materials. A well-designed identity can draw the attention of the right clients and boost the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, saving time and money in the process.