Your guide to creating a visual brand that consumers will remember.
As an ambitious retail or eCommerce brand, standing out in your niche is vital to pushing yourself ahead of the competition and growing your audience.
One of the best ways to stick in the minds of consumers and inspire customer loyalty is by building a strong visual identity for your brand.
Typically, it takes a customer around five to seven interactions to remember a brand. Once a customer does remember your brand, one of the main reasons they stick around is because they believe you share their personal values.
If you can make a big impression with your visual branding, you will become a glistening needle in a giant digital haystack. And by attracting attention, you will give yourself a platform to showcase your products or services to the right customers at the right time in their journey.
“No design works unless it embodies ideas that are held common by the people for whom the object is intended.”— Adrian Forty
1. Scan imagery in your industry
To create a strong visual identity for your brand, you must take the time to consider the imagery associated with your niche or industry.
Look at your competitors’ logos, color schemes, and various online touchpoints (social media profiles, landing pages, online store, etc.) for inspiration.
From there, you can carry out a brainstorming session with your friends or colleagues based on sharing visual associations related to what you do. For example, if you’re an eco clothing brand, people might associate the colors green and brown as well as images of trees with you or your sector.
Armed with this information, you can lay solid foundations concerning color schemes and the visual imagery you might want to explore for your website assets and brand logo.
2. Be consistent
We’re mentioning this tip early on because it’s vital: when you’re considering imagery, graphics, and color schemes, you must ensure brand consistency across the board.
Creating a basic visual style guide based on dimensions, shades or colors, and graphic elements will guarantee that your content builds strong associations in the minds of your customers.
3. Consider your brand mission
With a fundamental outline of how you want to showcase your business and a basic visual style guide in place, you should get to the heart of the brand by looking at your mission.
Consider your ‘why?’—the reason your brand exists—and how you want to portray yourself to your customers.
The Red Cross, for instance, uses striking red imagery to create a sense of urgency while using a logo that is not only synonymous with its name but also universally associated with medicine. The Apple logo, designed by Rob Janoff, features the fruit with a bite taken out to symbolize the computer term “byte.”
Think hard about your core brand mission and your values, and the visuals will follow.
4. Know your audience
Another effective way of developing a strong brand identity is knowing your audience on a deeper level.
By taking the time to understand the wants, needs, and pain points of your main customer base, you will get a clearer idea of the kind of imagery, colors, and graphics that will grab their attention.
Our practical guide to creating effective buyer personas will help you on your quest for customer knowledge.
5. Outsource wisely
Armed with your refined color scheme, style guide, graphics, and logo concept, you can tackle your visual development.
If you don’t have the in-house expertise to create and develop your refreshed visual identity, you should outsource the project to a freelance specialist or graphic designer—but do so wisely.
When you’re looking to work with an outsourced professional, you should:
- Look at previous client reviews and testimonials
- Explore their portfolio to see if their style fits with your vision
- Consider delivery and turnaround times
- Do a small paid trial to see if you’re happy with the work
6. Take away the fear
Because your visual branding is so integral to your eCommerce or retail business, creating graphics and imagery that represent you can prove daunting.
To take away the fear from the process, you should trust your gut, collaborate with everyone in the business, and gather feedback before you launch your new visuals. That way, you will keep moving forward and stay confident in your decisions every step of the way.
7. Don’t be afraid to be bold
This is, well, a bold statement: being brave or a little “out there” with your visuals can work wonders—if you get it right.
With every campaign, piece of content, or brand ad placement, you should dare to do something your competitors aren’t.
Dropbox, for instance, created a visual tour of its business product, complete with striking graphics that are not only synonymous with the brand’s existing assets but grab instant attention.
Stick to your guns, let your brand mission lead the way, push the envelope without being exclusive or offensive, and your bold visual brand efforts will work wonders.
8. Place people at the heart of everything
Naturally, you will develop your visual branding based on your brand mission and your target audience. But it’s always worth remembering that when you’re working on a new image, video, ad, animation, or marketing campaign, people are the end-users.
Adopting a people-first mindset will ensure your brand visuals are fit for consumption and instantly recognizable during every conceivable interaction.
Placing people at the heart of your efforts will filter through into even the most microscopic details (e.g., text boxes, instructions, and checkouts) of your customers’ journey, building trust and loyalty.
9. Take charge of the moment
Once you have everything visual branding-related in place, you will have the ability to take charge of the moment.
Armed with your new visual brand assets and principles, you can tweak some of your logos or imagery according to emerging trends or annual events and seasons within your industry.
For one of its Easter campaigns, Swedish furniture icon IKEA launched its very own chocolate flatpack Easter bunny, complete with instructions. This savvy marketing concept leans on IKEA’s main USP, and by taking its core branding (color tones, graphical style, and fonts) and giving it a seasonal makeover, the company earned the product a healthy number of sales while boosting awareness across channels.
For extra inspiration, explore our essential rundown of inspirational branded content examples.
10. Use the right tools
To maintain a strong brand identity, it’s important to work with the right tools for the job. As a budding eCommerce or retail business owner, outsourcing won’t always be an option. But with your fundamentals firmly in place, you can use accessible visual editing tools to create striking assets for your various ads, projects, or campaigns.
Here are some easy yet effective tools you should consider:
- Image editing tools like Canva or Pixlr
- Sniply for adding striking CTA buttons or functional graphics to emails or webpages
- Animaker for creating branded animations
- WeVideo and Filmora for making striking branded videos
- Design template studios for creating branded social media images and graphics
- Online store builders that are interactive and customizable
If you take the time to pick the tools that work best for you and learn how to use them to your advantage, you will be able to take charge of your visual assets when the opportunity strikes.
Bonus branding tips:
- Create a library of slogans or taglines to inspire your visual branding efforts.
- Don’t be afraid to keep refreshing or evolving your visuals based on industry changes.
- Listen to feedback openly to ensure your visual identity truly represents your business.
- Never blatantly copy, spoof, or plagiarize your competitors—it’ll land you in hot water.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” —Seth Godin
Creating a strong and cohesive brand identity takes time, consistency, and clarity. Work through these essential tips, collaborate with everyone in your organization, and stick to your gut to curate a brand identity that turns heads.
We wish you the best of luck on your visual journey. For more business-enhancing tips, explore our guide to creating a powerful branded video.