How To Find The Key Elements Of Your Visual Brand - Part One

A while back I was facilitating an executive retreat for a local non profit. When we came to topic on branding, one of the board members raised their hand and said this will be easy, we already have a great logo!

That opened a whole conversation around what goes into creating a brand and a visual identity. By the end of the discussion, it was abundantly clear that their logo, as nice as it was, was not their brand and only one part of their visual identity.

Today's blog is part one of the process of identifying the elements of your visual brand. Specifically, your fonts, photos and videos, filters, colors and logo.

I’ve heard from some of you lately that it would be very helpful to know the fundamentals of how to select these elements of your visual brand and establish a consistent style.

This is where a lot of people get stuck - because they’re not sure where to get started.

I was talking to a friend the other day and this is how she summed it up:

“When I worked for a corporation, it was easy to go out and speak on camera and talk to the media, I was great at it - because I knew who and what I was representing. When you are the brand, it’s a lot harder because the focus is all on you and all of that isn’t as clearly defined.”

Big corporations spend lots of time and money to develop a brand look and feel and you’ll need to make an investment in developing yours.

Your Logo is NOT Your Brand

Here are several quotes I think do a nice job of defining the more ethereal qualities of a brand, whether it’s a personal brand or for a small business or corporation. And it’s definitely way more than a logo.

Michael Eisner, the former CEO of Disney says:

“A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures”

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon puts it like this:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”  

And John Williams, founder of Logo Yes, defines it this way:

“Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”

And lastly, my friend and marketing master, Mike Kim defines your brand as the visual, verbal and value proposition you deliver. He says all three must align with one another if you want a cohesive brand position. Here's a link to Mike’s blog on this topic.

Now that we have a working definition of what a brand is, let’s define a visual brand identity:

Your visual brand identity (combined with your verbal identity and the value you deliver) evokes a certain feeling, memories and emotions when people experience your brand.

It’s the visual story you tell to communicate your overall message, values, and brand promise through the images, colors, fonts, filters, and videos you consistently use.

And this even applies to what you wear and the locations you use for your images and videos.

These elements either support or detract from your values and brand promise. And your visuals need to have the same look and feel across all platforms.

Keep them simple and consistent to create cohesion.

Being aware of how your visuals affect your brand is just the starting point.

What Do You Want Your Visuals To Say About You?

To answer that you first need to answer some questions about your brand.

Here are three questions I ask my clients when we