Creating an effective visual identity for your business‚ from logo to letterhead to your online presence‚ is something that requires (and deserves) a tremendous amount of forethought. Color palettes, design elements, photo usage, fonts, graphics, and dozens of other visual elements all come into play, not just with the materials you have in place now, but in the future as media needs change and evolve. Today, opinions and decisions are made in split seconds, based almost solely on the visual components of the message. Your visual brand identity, and how it is presented to your customers, needs to be planned just as intentionally as your business goals. This ensures that the vision and your company's voice are consistent no matter where it is represented.
The most important thing to remember is that every single element used‚ from color to font to image and design choice‚ is a mouthpiece, and all speak to the identity of your business.
Font, Colors, and Other Design Choices
Many people aren't aware of the complex planning and dedicated work that goes into creating design elements like a logo, or picking out a color palette that fits your brand and its communications. Choices like color and font make a world of difference in how something is communicated (think of receiving a letter from the IRS printed in the "Comic Sans" font), and each component reflects directly on your company.
Involving professional designers for the process of creating logos and brand visuals is ideal; many companies that create visual materials "in-house" to save money end up sending the wrong messages based on sub-par logos or marketing materials. Even something as seemingly simple as color is a powerful communication tool (for good and for bad), and it requires knowledge and experience to be properly utilized. This link has some great examples of powerful and effective use of color:
Powerful, Relevant Imagery
When choosing imagery to bolster the marketing content you produce, whether it is for a print medium or online, you need to be equally as consistent and purposeful as your written content and overall messaging. According to research, "total views increased by 94 percent if a published article contained a relevant photograph or infographic when compared to articles without an image in the same category." Needless to say, that is an incredible difference.
Consistency and a "Brand Book"
As technology changes, so does marketing. New media means new marketing opportunities, and businesses need to be ready to create materials for these opportunities.
In order to ensure that the visual brand tone and messages adhere to the visual plan you already have in place, you need to create a "brand book." A brand book is a detailed set of guidelines on how all the aspects of your brand is handled, from how your logo may (or may not) be used, to letterhead, to email headers and footers, to websites. Many brand books are as detailed as specifying how far away the logo or design must be from any other visual elements. The more specific the brand book, the more you ensure that your visual business elements are in line and in tune with your company's goals. Here are some basic tips for building a brand book for your business.
As with all worthwhile and effective processes, developing and implementing a strong visual brand representation for your business takes time, and it takes talent. The visual aspects of your company need to work just as hard ‚ if not harder, in this age of instant decisions made in a single glance‚ as the rest of your business. There's a world of knowledge and expertise waiting to be utilized for your benefit, and your company deserves to look its best.