57: Branding Series Part 2 of 4: How to Create Your Visual Branding
Welcome to Part 2 of the branding series on the Studio 78 Podcast. If you’ve listened to Part 1 of the series with Robyn Young and took the requested actions, you should now know your “why.” In Part 2 of this series, you’ll learn how to apply your why to your visual brand. You’ll learn what a visual brand is, why it’s important, and how to execute it.
What is a Visual Brand
A visual brand is what people see relating to your business including, but not limited to, graphical elements such as typography, colors, imagery, and design elements. These are reflected in items such as your logo, website, social media graphics, stationary, packaging, etc.
A popular example is Starbucks. Everyone knows Starbucks’ signature green color, but you also know when you’re in a Starbucks store because it has a certain ambience and tone. The artwork, brochures, bags, lighting, and all of the other elements you see reflects the brand. Even their commercials and phone app all fall within the brand because the visual elements like the logo, colors, and typography send the same message.
An example of a personal brand that does this well is musician Leon Bridges. He has 60s vibe that is carried out consistently no matter where you see him. His clothes, hair, website, social media, color choices all reflect his brand, and they are expected with perfection within everything that’s associated with him.
Why a Visual Brand is Important
A visual brand is important because:
- It reflects the why of your company.
- Helps people better understand and relate to your story.
- Distinguishes you from your competition.
- Allows people to easily identify your company.
- Helps people form a relationship and connection with your brand.
Question to ask yourself: What do you want people to feel and think when they see/touch your product or engage with your business?
How To Create Visual Branding
Before working on your visual brand, do some research:
- Target audience: Find out who your target audience is. What are some of their favorite brands? And what do they respond to?
- Competitors: Who are your competitors? Check out their websites and social media accounts to find out how they’ve branded themselves. What works? What doesn’t work? How can you set yourself apart?
- Design style: Figure out what style is right for your brand. Look at other websites and even take pictures of things that capture your attention while you’re out and about. Start a Pinterest board or create a physical visual board to start gathering your ideas.
I include this in relation to visual branding because it’s what people see first and how they identify your business or product. Choosing a name can be difficult, but here are some tips:
- Check to see if the name you selected is trademarked.
- Check to make sure the URL is available (if it is, buy it!).
- Check social media handles (try to have the same name on all channels. Secure the names immediately).
- Google the name to see what comes up.
If you can find an amazing designer that can help you with this, that’s the best route. If you decide to go with a designer make sure you like their portfolio, ask for references, and be ready to talk about your why and provide them samples of what you’re looking to accomplish. You can find designers on Upwork or if you like the branding of another company, you can ask them who they used. Sometimes this information is located in the footer of their website.
If you decide to go with a professional designer or go at it alone here are some items you should consider:
Decide on Design Elements
- Color: This is where your research and a visual board will come in handy. What colors best reflect what you want people to feel when they see your brand? Check out this article by Canva on Color Symbolism.
- Typography style: Font is everything. Are you going with a Serif or San Serif? Are you going for big and bold or thin and light? The fonts you choose will help set the tone of your brand. Rule of thumb, never, ever, ever use Comic Sans, ever! lol!
- Mood: Is your brand happy with super bright colors? Or more earthy with muted tones? IG accounts are a great way to compare different styles and figure out what mood or tone you want your brand to have.
- Design style: Is your brand minimalist, abstract, feminine, masculine, artsy, playful, flat, deep, luxurious, illustrative, grungy, corporate, typographic? Check out this visual guide to design styles by 99design.
For my favorite design element resources, check out the Design Resource Guide.
Create a Logo
You can find a local graphic designer or artist or go to places like Upwork or 99 Designs to create one. I don’t recommend Fiverr unless you’re really in a pinch. Create a visual board of all of the logos that appeal to you and see if you can find some common themes, such as the use of scripts, line work, geometric shapes, etc. It will help you identify your style.
If you decide to work with a designer, these are a must:
- Your logo needs to be created as a vector, which allows it to be scaled to any size. Professional designers create their logos in Adobe Illustrator. If someone says they’re going to use Adobe Photoshop, run away fast because it’s not the proper software for creating logos.
- You need your logo in all black, all white, and full color so you can use it in a variety of ways.
- Ask for your logo in a variety of sizes from small (low resolution) to large (high resolution) so you can use it on social median platforms or print material.
- You also need the logo in a variety of formats, JPEG, PNG, and EPS. A JPEG file type is what you’re most familiar with. A PNG has a transparent background so you won’t see a white box around your logo. An EPS is used for printers and to provide to other designers working on branding material for you.
In an upcoming interview, we’ll dive into deciding on the platform and content a bit deeper.
- Choose a URL.
- Decide on a platform (Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify).
- Create a website.
- Look for templates that will allow you to showcase your message and products.
- Set-up email with Google; take advantage of the G Suite.
- Consider creating a tagline.
TIPS: (1) Make sure the social icons are linked; (2) compress photos; (3) if you use WordPress, try not to use to many plugins.
Check out the Web Resource Guide to see some of my recommendations.
- Add the same bio pic or avatar image on all social media accounts so people can quickly identify that this is the brand’s account.
- Create a banner to use on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that is consistent.
- Add a description paragraph or sentence that captures your brand.
- Determine how you’re going to use each platform and determine what images, videos, quote cards, or graphics will help tell your story and reflect your brand.
- Create graphic templates you can use in apps like Canva, Pic Monkey, or Over.
- For YouTube videos, determine what style the thumbnail image will be.
- Choose hashtags you want your brand to be associated with.
Printed Products and Packaging
Business cards, fliers, and other printed marketing material need to be consistent with your visual brand. Remember you get what you pay for, but here is a list of places that sell a variety of marketing material.
If you have a physical product, packaging is key. How do you want people to feel when your package arrives in their mailbox? The design of the packaging should reflect your brand, and the product should be properly wrapped. Make sure your shipping container can properly protect your product because the last thing you want is something to spill or arrive broken. Mail a sample package to a friend or yourself to test it out. Here are some places to go for packaging material:
Check out the Business Resource Guide for more links.
Some other elements to think about are:
- Voice, dictation, tone
- Props or styling used in different photoshoots
- Music you use in videos or podcast episodes
ACTION: Create a mood board.
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