When to Prioritize Your Visual Brand

Prefer to read with your ears? Listen to the Authentic Brand podcast episode on this topic below.

Your visual identity is critical to your brand’s success. Or is it? It’s time to find out just how much impact your logo has on your results.

“I have to design my brand before I can do anything else.”

I’m often approached by entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to design their brand’s visual identity – the collection of logos, graphic styles, fonts and colours that will represent their brand in the marketplace. Getting your brand designed is an exciting process and so many are eager to jump right in.

Some are eager because immortalizing your brand in a collection of visuals is an exciting process!

Others, however, are eager because they believe all of their success hinges on them getting the perfect logo to represent their business.

We’re in an era of amazing design

Successful brands are immersing us in a full experience with their beautifully executed logos, packaging, storefronts and more. (One of my favourite brand design belongs to David’s Tea. They’re so consistent and clear in their brand identity, and their packaging is so beautiful, you just don’t want to throw it away.)

Because we’re exposed to so many beautiful brand designs, we’re starting to put more and more emphasis on the importance of a well-designed brand identity. That’s a lot of pressure for entrepreneurs and business owners to find the perfect logo, colours, fonts to represent what they do in their business.

But just how important IS brand identity design?
How much impact DOES your brand’s logo, business cards and social media cover images have on your audience?

Let’s find out.

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Let me start by saying that it IS necessary to have some form of brand identity design. Around 65% of the population are visual learners, so having some form of visual representation of your brand will help you appeal to a large section of the market.

Having some form of visual differentiation can also help you:

  • stand out and grab people’s attention,
  • become memorable, and
  • intrigue your audience into clicking through your posts to learn more about you.

Visual identity is especially critical for those selling products on physical shelves because with so much choice in supermarkets and other retailers, having a product that is visually appealing can make all the difference in a sea of competition.

It’s hard to deny that your brand’s visual identity CAN prompt people to take action – but how much?

While there’s a whole lot we can cover, today I want to focus on the number one thing we think about when it comes to our brands’ visual identities: the logo.

Your logo – the heart of your visual brand identity

Your logo is often thought of as the key representative of your brand’s visual identity. It makes itself seen on virtually all your marketing materials, from your business cards to your website. So how specifically does your logo impact your audience?

When done properly, a logo can become synonymous with a message – like how the Nike ‘swoosh’ can’t help but make us think of the company’s famous slogan, ‘Just do it’. When done incorrectly, however, logo designs can prompt ridicule. (By the way, if you’re looking for some fun, just do a search for ‘logo fails’ and I guarantee you’ll have a good time.)

But despite having the ability to impact your audience, your logo really isn’t the deciding factor on whether someone will buy from you.

I know, that can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you’re on version 12 of your logo design. But it’s true: there are plenty of multi-million dollar companies out there whose logos break the principles of design and could actually be considered as ugly. But we’re so used to them and so familiar with the company’s message and offering, that we don’t even consider it before making a purchase.

Think about it: if you were looking to open a new business banking account, how would you choose who you go with? Would their logo sway your decision? Probably not as much as the actual solutions they’re offering.

Stop being so hard on yourself!

Now despite all that, entrepreneurs still put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves to get the perfect logo. In fact, they focus on it so much that they put everything else on hold until they figure it out. Who knew such a small symbol could dictate our business decisions?

It can be exhausting going through version after version, changing your logo every six months and never really finding something that speaks to your true brand identity.

So here’s what many business owners and entrepreneurs are missing:

They’re missing their brand’s authentic message.

Before you even pick up a pencil and start sketching ideas for your dream logo, you have to get clear on your brand’s message. Because that is what’s going to motivate your audience into action, and it’s also what will influence the design and marketing strategy that follows. Here’s why:

When you create your visual identity without first developing your message, you’re setting yourself up for future challenges.

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  1. You may find yourself changing your logo as often as you change your shirt. Without being able to assign a deeper message to your visual identity, it may never feel or look quite right. You’ll spend your efforts trying to perfect something without substance and meaning.
  2. You may be inadvertently sending the wrong message. Again, your logo won’t typically be the deciding factor for whether someone buys from you. It could, however, get the attention of the wrong target market. When you know your message first, you can better tailor your logo and visual identity to attract the interest of the people you want to work with the most. It’s about being intentional with your marketing.
  3. You may find yourself wasting time and money with the design process itself. There’s a big difference between going to a graphic designer and saying “I need a logo for my physiotherapy business” versus having a specific message you want to relay through your design.

So yes, your logo does an impact, but without having a message in place, it’s like sending your customers to a beautifully-designed storefront only for them to find there’s nothing of worth inside the building. Wouldn’t it be better to know the contents before you create the container?

Design is subjective

Here’s the other thing: even if you do capture your message in a beautifully-designed logo, it doesn’t guarantee that everyone will like it. The same goes for everything around it, too: your brand colours, fonts and graphic styles.

Brand colours, for example, are incredibly subjective. We have a whole slew of meanings assigned to colours. In Western culture, red can mean passion and love, but it can also mean hate. Green can represent nature and energy, but it can also represent money and envy.

Our love or hatred of specific colours can also come from our own individual experience with those colours. One person may love the colour green because it reminds them of hiking in the forest. Meanwhile, another person may completely despise it because it reminds them of the green house they lived in when they lost their childhood friend. You just never know what associations your audience has with every single colour.

So here’s what you can do: ditch the perfectionism around your logo and visual identity and focus on the meat of your brand first –  your message. Once you know the deeper meaning behind what you offer, everything else will fall into place.

Essential tips for your brand’s logo

Let’s quickly recap:

  • Your brand’s logo can grab attention and interest, but it will rarely be your client’s reason for buying from you.
  • Developing your logo before your message can cost unnecessary time, money and energy.
  • Design is subjective, so ditch the perfectionism and get clear on your brand’s message first.

When you clarify your brand’s message, everything else falls into place. So get out there and define your brand!

To discover more authentic branding tips, follow me on Facebook and Instagram at Caitey Gilchrist Creative.