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The Power of Branding

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Why having a strong and versatile visual identity is key to success 

Much like a stunning outfit, a flashy car or an engaging smile, a well-put-together visual identity is usually the first point of contact people will have with your business. From a business card, or an IG profile image, to a billboard, vehicle decal or branded polo; the list goes on. The first thing people see from your business leaves a powerful first impression. 

A visual identity is often referred to as a brand, even though a brand is so much more. This common interchanging of terms comes from the fact that the process of creating a visual identity is called branding; essentially putting a unique identifying mark on a product or business that sets it apart from all the rest. 

‘Can a business build a brand?’ I’ll answer that in my next post but here we’ll discuss the power of branding (building a visual identity system that suits your business) and why having a strong and versatile visual identity system is important.  

Think of three of your friends. One may always wear black, another wears mostly bright colours, while the third may be into earth tones (that last one is me). Generally speaking, companies and products are much the same, with a standard set of visuals, colours, shapes and icons that represent them.

Courts, FLOW, Digicel or Massy; without giving it a second thought their brand colours filled your minds eye. Strong visual identities make them easily recognisable and memorable market staples, setting their business, product or service apart from competitors. 

It’s a point I often make, just seeing purple and yellow in Barbados makes you think of Chefette, whether or not you like their fries or sandwiches. But these two colours are part of Chefette’s visual identity system that is recognisable. It is no mistake that their iconic uniforms can be spotted on a crowded bus. It’s a successful execution of a clear visual identity. 

Many companies in Barbados are leaning into the trend of sublimated polos and we see the rise of full graphic prints with a company’s logo, colours, and slogan. 

Of course, there is more we could discuss, and if I were advising a client, here are three of the reasons I would offer them, why being intentional about a strong visual identity is important.

It sets you apart from the competition

In a crowded sea of products and services, it is vital to differentiate your product or service from everyone else. Picking colours, shapes and imagery that are unique to your company, resonate with your market and elevate your appeal is important. When creating the visual identity HoneyChild Skincare, for example, we were careful to design a logo that was simple enough to stand out in cosmetic spaces, farmer’s markets and pop-up shops, while allowing their natural soaps and skincare products to shine. 

It communicates your value to the market

While a logo is to identify and not explain, it is supported by a visual identity that indicates to potential customers the value the product or service brings to their lives. An energy drink will normally carry bright colours paired with flashy high-definition images of people in motion, living active, athletic lifestyles. The same is true for an activewear company. 

It associates the product with the desired outcome the consumer is looking to achieve, indirectly sending the message that product A leads to outcome B. Nike is seen as the activewear brand for serious sports people and those who take action; those who ‘go big or go home.’ Red Bull is seen as the energy drink of the risk-takers, the mavericks, the trailblazers and the daredevils. 

Each of these companies first and foremost communicate these ideas and subsequently influence (but not create) their brand through their carefully curated visual identity. 

It attracts the type of customers and clients you are looking for

Whether you are a telecommunications company, a restaurant or a vegan meal prep service, your visual identity acts as a lightning rod to draw your ideal customer to you. 

Digicel employs a mixture of hi-resolution – often black and white – photography of individuals enjoying life using their services, interspersed with their brand colours red with purple accents, to create a fun, slice of life, youthful and approachable appeal. This, in turn, attracts younger people, such as teenagers, college students and younger working-class individuals. 

When we created the visual identity for Plant Lyfe, a vegan fast food restaurant, they were keen on having a visual identity that would attract those looking for meatless alternatives without sacrificing flavour and portions, while getting the benefits of healthier options to traditional fast food. We employed orange and green, with a hand-drawn font and created a custom fruit and vegetable-based line art pattern.

A Key to Success

There are several determining factors for the success of a company. Crafting a strong and versatile visual identity at the heart of a company’s marketing and communications, that is visible, memorable and relatable is crucial to it being seen, remembered and engaged with by the right customers. When companies implement appropriate visual identity systems that are both bespoke and flexible, they are better able to stand out amidst the competition, communicate their value proposition clearly, through easily identifiable marketing campaigns, and therefore attract their ideal customer because they have taken the time to be intentional about how they look and to whom they are communicating.  

While a brand cannot be created solely by the company around which it develops (we’ll discuss this in the next post), having the right visual identity system allows companies to exert significant influence on the brand that develops around their product or service.