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What They Are & Why They Matter

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What They Are & Why They Matter

When we build a brand, we build an experience that reflects a purpose. Visual identity is a huge part of this brand experience. Colors, graphics, and fonts turn brand concepts into visual identities that can be recognized.

Once a brand is established, it needs to become a recognizable identity that the external world can perceive. This recognition comes with consistency, and achieving that consistency requires a strong visual identity system.

To create a visual identity system, you need all the visual elements that the brand has. The visual identity system’s basics are a strong brand guide and its implementation tasks. The ultimate goal of this system is to turn all the brand assets into principles that all the content team can follow to make sure that the online presence is aligned with the original brand concept.

Visual Identity System Benefits

A visual identity system is a way to make things easier, help people achieve a manageable and effective workload, and avoid mistakes. These mistakes can take place when there is no clear guidance about how to achieve excellent work results.

Putting systems in place turns complex processes into easy-to-understand steps that increase efficiency.

An effective visual identity system will help an organization:

  • Improve the outcome of their content creation process.
  • Avoid mistakes related to misunderstanding what the brand entails.
  • Make collaboration between teams easy.
  • Create complex strategies with a strong foundation that can help implement them.
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How To Create a Visual Identity System

Step 1: Develop the Brand Identity

A visual identity system starts with what we know as the brand image. This includes the logo, fonts, and brand colors. Ideally, you’ll have these in a brand guide already, but if you don’t you should develop them in this step.

Step 2: Create a Mood Board

Mood boards are similar to visual identity systems in the sense that they depict far more than a logo and color scheme. Mood boards go a step further in displaying photographs, video, and even audio or scents to get a well-rounded feel for a brand.

Mood boards are curated content (i.e. not developed in house at a company or organization) and are not public. They’re strictly helpful in gaining inspiration and feedback from stakeholders about what the official visual identity system might look like once it’s finished.

Step 3: Get Feedback

Sounds simple enough, right? But this can be a step in the process that you revisit several times before settling on the perfect draft of your visual identity system.

Rather than creating proprietary content for your visual identity system every time you get new feedback, use your modo board from the step above to relay your vision. Once you get buy-in, you’re ready to put together your own visual identity system.

Step 4: Include Guidelines

In order for a visual identity system to work well, it’s important to include guidelines for using each element. These guidelines answer specific questions “How do designers create new content without breaking the consistency?” and “How does a website developer understand what the website should look like?”

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There are, for example, types of content where a logo is not the best option to add, so designers can opt for a word mark or simplified logo instead.

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It’s important to be very specific and particular with the guidelines so that there is little confusion and designers can develop discernment about best practices for using the visual identity system.

Once you have them in place, it’s time to add guidelines for each element. There are several ways you can structure this, but here are a couple of common ones:

  • Dedicate a page to each element and include guidelines on the same page as the element.
  • Include your brand guide at the beginning of the visual identity system document and add guidelines toward the end.
  • Add an FAQ sheet explaining the guidelines for each element.
  • Add samples of do’s and don’ts so the team sees real-world examples of the guidelines in action.

Visual Identity System Basics

If you want to build your visual identity system to make your brand stand out from the crowd, here are some best practices that can help you avoid common mistakes and achieve great results.

Know your message.

Know your message, purpose, and how you want to talk to your audience. Visual identity system basics need a strong foundation to succeed. Think about those values you want to share and the misconceptions you want to avoid at all costs. Create a schedule that prioritizes your main goals and allows you to create results aligned with your values.

Knowing what you want to communicate will help you build a message that is not only profitable but also aligns with your values.

Have a strong theoretical background.

Do you know that psychology studies the foundations of the relationship between colors and feelings? Have you noticed that a message can be read as scary or romantic based on your font? If you have this information, you can shape how people visually perceive your brand.

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Psychology tells us a lot about colors and how they can affect people’s perception of our brands. If you don’t know much about this, maybe it is time for you to start diving into some research work.

Create an effective system.

Create an effective but scalable system so it can be upgraded based on your brand and business needs. The main goal of any system is to make things easier. That should be on top of every requirement that comes along the way.

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Visual identity system examples are successful if they show the potential to scale without losing their efficiency.

Be specific.

Be as specific as possible, as this will make you avoid mistakes and the unnecessary back and forth between team members. Choosing details like the stock photos that suit the brand can make the difference.

Making things clear can be incredibly helpful for new team members who don’t have the brand background needed to understand the virtual identity system basics by themselves.

Create an Amazing Visual Identity System

Building a system is a concept that sounds more technical and specialized, which makes it hard to start. But, the truth is, even if you have just a bunch of tasks together, you’re already building the first steps towards your system creation. You’re close to the goal.

Systems can make everything easier, even if you start small with many questions. You will learn the details along the way.

Have you created a strong visual identity system? If you haven’t, today is the day to start.

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MARKETING

B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

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“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.

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Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

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While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.


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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”


About The Author

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Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

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He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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