Consistency is the key to unlock brand success.
As you develop your visual voice on social media and across your marketing strategy, creating a style guide for your visual elements and applying them consistently will help you build your brand like a pro.
The placement and choice of your fonts, colors, images and logo are a crucial part of this process.
Here I’ll take you through useful tips you can apply to your brand’s visual assets. If you want to put them into action, jump into the interactive tutorial at the end of this article!
01. Find your unique voice
There are hundreds of brands that provide the same service. So what makes people select their favourite clothing brand to wear or chocolate to eat?
Along with the quality of a brand’s product or service, developing a unique voice will help your brand stand out. For new brands starting out, consider:
- What makes you different from your competitors?
- How do you want people to experience your product or service?
- What kind of emotions do you want your brand images to evoke?
Answering these questions will help you develop your brand identity, which will be anchored by a consistent application of your visual assets – your fonts, images, color and logo.
Take the example of Corona. The brand’s marketing images often depict exotic outdoor scenes, beaches, sunsets and cold bottles of beer. Corona’s color palette is iconicly warm and yellow and many of its branded images feature a highly saturated filter. The consistent application of these visual features creates a recognisable ‘sun drenched’ look that leads many people to associate Corona with Summer and holidaying. By doing so, Corona sells an experience – not just a bottle of beer.
By having a clear idea about how you want your brand to be perceived, you can start planning how to apply your visual assets consistently. Let’s take a closer look at some good practices to develop a strong visual strategy.
02. Choose appropriate fonts and use them consistenly
The fonts you choose should reflect your brand identity. Do you want to choose a strong bold font or a traditional and elegant one?
For example, consider Nike’s iconic uppercase, bold, sans serif font it uses consistently across its social media graphics. This font is a great choice to create impact – which works well with Nike’s call to action style images.
Limiting your font selection is a good fit for social media graphics that don’t need heavy amounts of text. If you’re just going to use one font, like Nike has in these examples, choose the most recognisable font associated with your brand.
To cater for different design types, you should consider choosing two fonts for your brand and using them consistently throughout all of your materials.
The font you choose for your headings should be the largest and allude to the persona of the brand. If you want to use a script, uppercase or title font, this is the place to do it, as these typefaces aren’t easy to read in heavy copy.
In contrast your subtitle font and your body font should be easy to read. A great option for subtitles is to use the same font as your heading, but at a smaller size or with a different style. This could include making it bold or italic, or increasing the letter spacing.
03. Apply a color palette to all of your visual assets
Once you’ve chosen the right color palette for your brand, take a note of the hex codes that identify the colors.
You can apply your brand colors across graphic elements such as text, icons and backgrounds, but you should also make an effort to pick images that harmonize with your palette, if your palette is earthy it would be beneficial to choose images with a similar tone.
Beauty brand Benefit Cosmetics does a good job of reflecting its feminine identity on Instagram using a predominantly pink color palette.
These three images from Benefit’s Instagram use the color pink in clever and creative ways. In the first example, the background image has been desaturated and a pink shape with a subtle transparency has been placed, acting as an overlay.
The second image is a photograph that deliberately features pink balloons, and the third image uses a solid pink color as a background for quote text. When used effectively, your color palette should evoke a particular kind of emotion which should reflect your brand identity.
04. Apply a unique filter to your branded images
Whether you’re posting images via social media or using them as backgrounds in your designs, applying a filter can help give them a unique look and feel. Some filters will brighten your images, while other will bring out certain colors, so it’s important to have a clear idea about how your want your images to look.
For example, lifestyle magazine Kinfolk uses an iconic photo style for the images in their publication, on their website and social media platforms. This example has been taken from Kinfolk’s website.
Notice how Kinfolk’s photos complement its ‘less is more’ or minimalist approach, making it an effective way to brand its images. The treatment that Kinfolk have used is desaturated with a bit of contrast, producing a fairly muted and almost film-processed effect.
05. Place your logo consistently
Consider these two factors when designing visual assets for your brand: the position and size of your logo.
If you’re using your logo over images, ensure you can see it. You will often have alternate versions (black, white, color) so make sure you use one that will offset against your background. As always, consistency is key so placement of your logo should be the same across your social posts, with even padding around each side for balance and aesthetic harmony.
Try and keep the positioning and size of your logo consistent for the majority of your graphics. If you need to change it to suit a particular kind of design, make sure it is either centre, right, or left aligned intentionally.
Your logo should never overpower your design, but it’s also important that it isn’t too small. Determine a minimum size for your logo, where it is still clear to read (taking into mind the different specs of your channels) to apply to your social media graphics.
How important is branding in your visual strategy?
Whether you’re starting your own business or creating marketing materials at work – branding is a fundamental part of a strong visual strategy.
A consistent application of images, colors, fonts and layouts are all elements of graphic design that will play a huge role in making your brand image stand out.
Do you look to your favourite brands for design inspiration? What is your favourite way to add your unique brand touch to your designs? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.