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Why Your Brand Needs A Strong Visual Identity [+ 5 Examples to Inspire You]

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Why Your Brand Needs A Strong Visual Identity [+ 5 Examples to Inspire You]


Take a second to think about one of your favorite brands. A logo, storefront, color, or memorable ad campaign will likely pop into your mind. That’s because a brand’s visual identity is a powerful tool for telling a company’s story, building customer affinity, and increasing revenue.

If done effectively, visual identity can communicate a particular feeling or message without words. But a poorly-designed identity can confuse customers with lackluster messaging and disjointed graphics. So it’s no surprise that consistent brands are 3.5x more likely to have strong brand visibility than inconsistent brands.

Visual identity plays an essential role in branding, so it’s important to understand what makes up an identity and how to create one. We’ll cover all of that and share examples of successful brands that have developed a strong visual identity.

What is a visual identity?

A visual identity is the visible representation of a brand, from the logo and colors to the website and design of physical stores. It encompasses everything you can see in connection to a company.

elements that create a brand identityVisual identity can be made up of many elements:

  • Graphics
  • Animations, icons, buttons
  • Typography
  • Logo
  • Color palette
  • Imagery
  • Store design
  • Packaging
  • Uniforms
  • Flyers
  • Brochures
  • Billboards
  • Digital and print ads

Developing a strong visual identity comes with a number of benefits. It helps create an emotional connection with customers, which leads 57% of customers to increase spending. Consistent visuals unify a brand’s messaging so people instantly recognize the company across all channels.

They can build brand trust by informing potential buyers about products or services. And a well-designed visual identity can boost brand awareness and make people more likely to purchase, especially since 64% of people want brands to connect with them.

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Although visual identity sounds similar to brand identity, its unique benefits and elements set it apart.

Visual Identity vs Brand Identity

If brand identity is the personality of your business, visual identity is the visible expression of that personality. Think of a person who’s outgoing and creative (brand identity) and is known for wearing eccentric outfits and jewelry (visual identity).

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Brand identity gives customers the feelings they associate with your company, and it’s made up of everything that creates the brand as a whole. It includes your values, mission statement, tone and voice, style guides, brand persona, unique value props, visual assets, and more.

Visual identity is a part of brand identity, but its focus is on how a brand is visually represented. It requires a separate approach from brand identity, yet it needs to complement the brand. This is why designers and creatives are usually in charge of visual identity, whereas marketers and branding teams are in charge of brand identity.

5 Companies with Strong Visual Identity

When a brand takes the time to craft a strong visual identity, it becomes easier to attract customers and drive the business forward. As you look through the following examples, consider how every element works together to form a cohesive visual language.

Headspace

On a mission to improve the health and happiness of the world, Headspace takes a quirky approach to visual identity. The meditation app is full of charming characters, bright colors, and memorable moments that aim to establish its unique identity in the world of wellness. Even the animations add a sense of connection and humor while explaining mindfulness concepts.

Meow Wolf

The art collective Meow Wolf is out to inspire creativity through art, and their visual identity is chock full of imaginative graphics, installations, and images. The psychedelic color palette instantly draws you in, and the extraordinary characters hint that you’re in another world. It’s easy to get lost in a realm of fantasy and immersive art just by scrolling the brand’s Instagram.

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Meow Wolf visual identity example

Airbnb

From flexible dates to unique stays, Airbnb’s visual identity highlights the brand’s willingness to embrace adventure. Their pink logo, playful graphics, and incredible imagery encourage people to explore places beyond conventional options, which is exactly what you can do by booking or hosting a homestay through their platform.

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Air BnB visual identity example

Spotify

Listening is everything to Spotify, and it’s clear through the brand’s visual identity. A bold color palette and clever ad campaigns, like #SpotifyWrapped, showcase the company’s passionate and playful brand across the app, online platforms, and print ads.

Spotify visual identity example

Yeti

Visual identity is more than logos and ad campaigns — it’s the feeling people get when they see your brand. Yeti is a great example of how to make brand and visual identity work together to create a specific feeling for customers, which the brand does with Yeti Presents. These short films inspire adventure in a way that’s more authentic than other outdoor brands and fits the company’s laidback, active identity.

How to Create a Visual Identity

Creating a strong visual identity shows people who you are, why they should interact with you, and helps establish an emotional connection to your brand identity. Whether you’re creating a visual identity system for the first time or looking to revamp your identity, just follow these steps to come up with an eye-catching visual language.

1. Define your brand identity.

Your brand identity is the core of your company personality, and it informs your visual identity. If you don’t have all the aspects of your brand laid out, your visual identity can flounder from a lack of direction and cohesion. Before designing your visual identity, make sure to have the bare minimum brand requirements decided, such as values, voice and tone, persona, and mission statement.

2. Understand the principles of design.

When starting my own business, I decided to create my logo and website. But when getting feedback on my visual identity from a graphic design friend, it was clear I wasn’t trained in the principles of design. Visuals play a major part in how people perceive your brand, so it’s important to get them right. You can learn the six elements of design yourself, or hire a graphic designer to help bring your visual identity to life.

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3. Create a story.

People remember stories more than facts, which is why visual identity must focus on telling a great story. You can draw people in with characters and conflict, or incorporate your values into your visuals. The Swiss paragliding company, Advance, uses storytelling to highlight the quality of its products and the adventures that are possible because of them. The key is to show, not tell.

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advance visual identity example

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4. Stay consistent.

Consistency is simple when your company is small and you review every asset before it goes live. But the bigger the brand, the less likely it is to stay consistent. From ad campaigns and conference decks to social media posts or sales one-pagers, it’s easy to let visual style slip. But creating a brand style guide, and outlining the specific visual identity systems and styles, can help your team combine existing visuals with new elements as the company grows.

5. Keep the medium in mind.

Visuals look different on every channel — a printed logo can appear darker than on a screen. So it’s crucial to cater your visuals to the medium you’re using to promote your brand. A graphic designer or branding designer will understand how to adjust visual assets for each medium to ensure all elements, from colors and fonts to images and animations, appear consistent across channels.

sonos visual identity example

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Once you outline your visual identity and create graphics, you’re ready to share your visual language with the world. With time and consistency, people will be able to recognize your brand at first glance.

brand consistency





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MARKETING

Closing your team’s technical gap without hiring

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Closing your team's technical gap without hiring

It’s no comfort knowing you’re not the only one having trouble finding tech talent. Demand is high, supply is low. And everyone has teams and projects stuck in limbo.

What would be comforting is a solution. Well, here you go.

I’ve helped many marketing teams close the gap in their technical capabilities without writing a single job description. The reality is you have many more options than you can envision right now. All you need to do is expand your frame.

Expand Your Frame

When making a decision, framing helps you focus on the proper outcomes. The hard part may be setting the frame to the right size. Make it too small and you miss big chunks of the panorama. Too large and you lose the details. 

It’s also a fantastic way to think more strategically. While others are getting up in tactics, e.g., hiring, you can think of the outcome you’re hoping to achieve and determine the fastest way to get there. 


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The frame here is not that you need to hire someone, it’s that you need a certain set of tasks completed. Instead of hiring you should consider two other options: automation, i.e. no-code, and adjusting your team’s priorities. Looked at that way, you may already have all the skills you need.

No-Code & the New Engineers

The rise of no-code software tools is one of the most significant developments in the marketing world. No-code tools are meant to be used by non-technical folks. They have drag-and-drop interfaces and tend to be highly user-friendly. Examples include Zapier, Tray.io, and countless others.

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A huge problem for marketing teams is their technology is too complex. Doing anything significant means getting an engineer. Even sending emails requires technical help. With multiple no-code options in every category, there’s no need for this.

Instead of hiring someone to support marketing automation, find a software solution anyone can use. In practical terms, it means avoiding options like Salesforce, which requires in-house expertise, hundreds of pages of documentation and the proper alignment of the moon to make it work. Other solutions are drastically easier to use, though they may have less functionality. 

I tell my clients to prioritize the ability to connect their tools rather than just their raw capabilities. You may have the best email marketing solution, but it’s not as valuable if you can’t easily export data to a CRM. Be biased towards no-code, and you can avoid hiring.

I recently helped clients connect their Hubspot, Google Sheets, and a website using only no-code tools like Zapier. We were able to get everything done in a matter of weeks with no involvement from their engineers. In addition, the marketing team could send better-targeted emails and measure their performance better. All they needed were the right tools.

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Adjust Your Priorities

Think over how your team spent their time over the past week. Were they working on the highest impact tasks? Unfortunately, there’s a good chance the answer is no. It’s easy to fall prey to “busy work” or get stuck doing jobs that should be automated.

Bill Gates once said there’s no point hiring someone to do an inefficient process. You’re just scaling bad habits. Instead, clean up your processes before adding more bodies. You may discover plenty of time to research software tools and tackle new tasks.

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Read next: Broaden your marketing ops talent perspective

The fastest way to adjust your priorities is to run a time audit of your team. Ask each member to record how they spent their time over an average week. You can then work with them to figure out how to remove tasks from their plates. Low-hanging fruit includes manual input, work that no one sees or failure work—where tasks are redone multiple times. 

After running an audit for one team we found they spent way more time cleaning up data rather than using it. We figured out what was causing the errors and duplication, solving them through formulas and other measures. They were able to shift around 20 hours to other tasks. Many teams have similar hidden opportunities.

Digital-First Means Being Lean

Being digitally savvy isn’t about hiring as many people as possible. Digital channels offer the ability to be lean as you scale. Think of influencers who run channels with millions of views out of their parent’s basement. They have a lean but effective production. Years ago, the Instagram team had less than 100 people before being acquired by Facebook.

As you shift into digital, you have the opportunity to restructure your marketing teams and take advantage of trends like no-code. The first step is to expand your frame. After that, you might see more opportunities.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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About The Author

Ruben Ugarte is the global expert in Decisions, Strategy, and Data and author of the Data Mirage and Bulletproof Decisions. He helps executives at the most innovative medium and large enterprises find their hidden treasures and use them to dramatically boost performance, increase profitability, and make their teams world-class. He has done this across five continents and in three languages. His ideas have helped hundreds of thousands of people make better decisions.

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