Think about your favorite brand. Can you picture its colors, the logo, any patterns or shapes they use? What you’re picturing isn’t the brand in its entirety, but its visual identity, or how that brand chooses to present itself to the world.
Visual identity certainly helps customers connect with a company and more easily recall it when it comes time to make a purchase. However, a lot more goes into visual identity than choosing colors you like or shapes you find appealing. Each part of your visual identity can carry deep meaning that reinforces the core purpose of your company. In this guide, you’ll learn a bit more about what visual identity is, what composes your visual identity, and tips for developing a unique and memorable visual identity you can put to work today.
Visual identity is what the public sees as part of your brand and connects back to your brand. Composed of several parts, including colors, shapes, typeface, images, and patterns, the various parts of your visual identity come together to form their own “system” for communicating your brand values.
Over time, your brand will become deeply connected to and associated with these visual aspects, which also serve to reinforce your brand’s mission and values. Think of visual identity as its own language that fluently speaks your brand.
Visual identity is key for your brand in these five ways:
Your visual identity includes all the aspects of your brand that your current and prospective customers see, while your brand identity encompasses everything about your brand from the inside out.
Let’s break this down further. Your brand identity involves the totality of the brand experience. This includes the emotions your brand evokes and the experience your customers may have when they interact with your employees. Parts of your brand identity that are not visual include website copy, blogs, a mission statement or brand statement, brand values, and overall brand perception in the marketplace.
Your visual identity is intended to reinforce and uplift the brand identity determined and shaped by your leadership. Keep reading to learn more about how various elements of your visual identity incorporate this psychology-informed approach to connect with your customers.
The parts of your brand others can see can be broken down into seven distinct categories, each of which plays a significant role in elevating and reinforcing your brand’s message.
Your logo is one of the most recognizable parts of your brand identity. This symbol stands in place of your brand name in many applications, including on social media, on your business cards, on products and packaging, and much more. This carefully chosen symbol represents your brand and helps build recognition and awareness while communicating key information you want people to know about you through the colors, shapes, and tagline used.
You’ll use your logo in multiple ways and in many applications, including:
If your logo does not have a symbol in it, your company name will be written in your chosen font and will serve as the logo itself, called a word mark.
Wherever you want to take your logo, Namecheap’s free Logo Maker can help you get started. Our free online logo generator gives you options for colors, typeface, and shapes that come together to form a unique identifier that helps your brand stand out against competitors. Just put in your company name, and Namecheap does the rest, guiding you through many options based on your preferences and overall brand goals. Create your own original design for free!
From your website to your flyers, your color palette is an ever-present and unifying factor in all elements of your visual identity. Color choice can be deeply shaped by color psychology, which assigns certain impressions to each color with the goal of communicating a core brand value to your customers.
Some of the meanings behind common colors include:
Your color selection should be guided with the help of a color wheel. This graphic represents the relationship between colors, arranged in a circle for easy comparison. This way, you can easily select colors that work together, no matter how they’re used. Typically, you will choose three colors as part of your overall color palette.
Select your color palette based on one of these four principles:
Your typeface, sometimes called a font, plays an important role in your brand identity. It may seem like a less noticeable factor than colors or the logo itself, but it’s a powerful way to unite all elements of your company brand, from internal presentations to marketing signage.
Your typeface can be selected from an existing library, or you can invest in a font design of your own making. For example, Apple once used Helvetica Neue, a standard font found in word processing applications, but replaced it with a font designed in house, called San Francisco. Similarly, Uber replaced its official font with a custom typeface called Uber Move in 2018.
The shapes you choose to be part of your visual identity can communicate some of your brand’s core values. Triangles, rectangles, circles, and lines may crop up throughout a brand’s visual identity, and each logo shape can have an effect on customer perceptions. You’ll see these shapes in brand patterns, print materials, websites, product packaging, and more.
Shapes carry deep, significant meaning that can reinforce your brand’s mission and vision. Some of the most common shapes and their associated meanings include:
While not explicitly tied to your color choice, font choice, or logo, the imagery you use helps reinforce your visual identity. That’s because imagery plays a key role in setting the mood and conveying your message. These images, whether photographs, product images, video content, or brand ambassadors using your product or services, should be an extension of your brand’s personality.
Related to imagery, graphics refer to drawings and other designs that help reinforce your brand’s visual identity across various mediums. An original, identifiable pattern that’s used on your company’ social media, a particular animation style seen in videos and .GIFs, and line drawings that represent your product or service are all examples of graphics that help reinforce your visual identity.
If your business accepts customers and clients in person, your in-store or in-office experience can be an extension of your visual identity. This can include signage, fixtures, uniforms, and other items that your customers see and interact with when they walk into your facility.
Now that you have the basics of visual identity in mind, it’s time to put what you know into action and build your visual identity. Before you do so, though, it’s important to have some basic guiding principles that can help shape your choices. These seven tips can help you build an effective, powerful, and memorable visual identity that will woo new customers and keep current ones coming back.
Your visuals come after your brand identity is developed. After all, these visual elements are here to carry out your brand’s purpose and vision; your brand identity should not be tweaked to match the look and feel you want. As you begin to work on your company’s visual identity, keep revisiting your mission and vision to make smart choices. Think of your brand identity as the north star that guides all your decisions for your visual identity.
Here are a few examples:
Looking to learn how to develop your brand identity? Read the Namecheap guide to brand identity for tips to get started.
Before starting out on your own visual identity journey, it’s important to look at what similar companies are doing. While you certainly need to stand out from the competition, there may be a reason why certain industries utilize certain colors and fonts to drive home their core messaging. For example, it’s very common to see green in organic and natural brands to invoke nature, while blue is associated with trust, so that color is used by many apps, financial products, and other companies that handle your sensitive data.
Just as you need to look up competitors to create a successful visual identity, you want to create something that appeals to your ideal customers as well. Using market research and surveying potential customers, you can tailor your visual identity to that prospective audience. For example, if your customers are looking for a company that’s trustworthy above any other brand value, you may want to use color psychology to select blue as one of your main brand colors.
All the visual identity elements described earlier in this guide may sound like a lot to handle, but it will keep everything streamlined in the long run. To that end, it’s best to keep all aspects simple and easy to follow. That’s because your visual identity will have to adapt to a wide variety of purposes, from a small favicon on a website to a giant billboard on a highway. Simpler designs are favored over ornate patterns for these scalability purposes.
A consistent use and enforcement of your visual identity is key to pulling it off successfully. The same colors, font, shapes, and images need to be used in all of your forward-facing materials that your customers see (and even your internal documentation) for it to have the intended effect. Your brand should make it a point to adhere to this style in every possible instance, and any deviations from the norm should be carefully thought through and deliberately planned, if done at all.
Let’s say one of your brand colors is a bright orange. While it may be in line with your visual identity to use that color on your website, too much of a vivid hue could make it difficult for visitors to read what’s on the page. This is a great example of applying your visual identity in a way that still benefits your visitors. In this case, it may be preferable to use the bright orange on your website’s call to action buttons and a more neutral, less intense color from your color palette as the background.
Many departments in your company, as well as outside partners, will be responsible for executing some elements of your visual identity. Using a style guide can help everyone stay on the same page and ensure a flawless implementation, no matter who’s at the helm and for what purpose your visual identity is being applied.
A style guide includes everything needed to properly implement your visual identity in any medium. You’ll find the brand colors listed along with their six-digit hex keys for use online and in graphics programs, specific ways to use the logo and proper logo treatments, how to apply the brand typeface, guidelines for selecting stock images, approved brand patterns, and other guidelines for using all visual elements of your brand. This way, anyone you authorized to work with your brand can easily implement your visual identity.
Keeping these visual identity basics and our tips for visual identity development in mind, it’s time to get to work. With Visual, Namecheap makes brand design and other visual elements a simple process.
Through Visual, you can bring your brand to life through our free Logo Maker, the Namecheap Site Maker website builder, and an online business card maker perfect for preparing your new logo for the next networking event. Each of these items is an important touch point in your visual identity, showcasing your chosen brand colors, shapes, and typeface for potential customers online and in person. Get started with Namecheap’s easy to use and intuitive tools to solidify your visual identity.