You know a Nike ad when you see it.
Same with Coca-Cola or Apple.
This is because they have a consistent visual brand.
It's a combination of visual elements — logos, layouts, color schemes, themes and motifs — that come together into a gestalt that consumers recognize instantly as a sign of that particular brand.
You don't need to be a multinational corporation with teams of top design experts to create a consistent visual branding “language” for your own business, either.
Once you get a handle on the specific elements that contribute to that distinctive je ne sais quoi a brand's visual materials have, you can carefully craft an identity that resonates with your target audience.
Brand image and brand aesthetics are a holistic sort of thing, concerning hard-to-define “gestalts” that can be very “know it when you see it.”
But beneath those gestalts are specific, concrete elements like logos, color palettes, fonts, and even things like the use of negative space.
In a recent blog post, Shopify gives an overview of how you can get started with distinct visual branding.
Before you can really dive into your visuals, you need to take a more holistic view of your brand.
It’s not just about your fonts, colors, and logo, after all, as important as those things are.
The foundation of your brand is who you are, what you stand for, and who you serve. Once you know that, the details get a lot easier.
To help you get a better sense of your brand, try answering the following questions.
1. What do you do?
2. Why do you do it?
3. Who do you serve?
4. What do they need?
5. What makes you different?
And remember—you can’t be everything to everyone, and you shouldn’t try. The best brands are the ones that stand for something, so don’t be afraid to put a stake in the ground.
This might even mean adding some questions to the list:
6. What do you not do?
7. Who do you not serve?
For example, if you’re in a traditionally male-dominated industry or niche, but your brand focuses on a female audience, that’s an important note. Or maybe you’re a yoga brand, but you're for people who never thought they'd be a “yoga person.”
It’s a lot easier to make choices when you’ve got a solid foundation in place, for all aspects of your brand—not just visuals.
You can read more about building a strong sense of visual brand identity in the full blog post from Shopify.