Unpacking Branding’s Visual Language. | Proof Branding

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“How do you say a lot, without saying a lot?” It’s a question we ask ourselves every day with every client at Proof. Along with, “how do you say a lot, without saying anything at all”? 

  • Photos can make all the difference, communicating your brand’s focus without any words to an otherwise skeptical website visitor.
  • Color palettes can evoke the perfect emotion – from more formal endeavors to wild and crazy ideas, color can make all the difference in setting an immediate tone.
  • Typography can build trust, spark engagement, draw attention, and drive action.

How are you meeting clients, customers, followers and fans where they are and making sure you hit the right note?

Understanding Visual Communication

We work in the land of ‘visual communication’ and we understand that the way a brand is presented and reinforced matters, down to the tiniest of details. A logo, a website, a box you take off the shelf, a line of copy you read in an ad.

Visual communication is a powerful tool in today’s “give it to me now, right now” world. Expectations and urgency is through the roof, and you have a very small window to get your point across, reinforce credibility, and/or make a sale.

  • Do you have a full system for your logo and brand standards and is it (actually) enforced and followed at all areas of your company?
  • Is the hero on the homepage of your website explaining who you are and driving users to take a next step?
  • Is your product standing out or blending in on the shelf amongst a plethora of other options? Should you ramp up or scale back on the aesthetics to be distinct in the market?

Each of these touch-points are just examples of (quick) reactions customers and followers will have with your brand. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that your brand is the big, giant ecosystem (and it is), but don’t get stuck in the broad strokes and forget the little details that may be helping or hurting your brand’s image and bottom line. 

The beauty of visual communication is that it’s understood globally. There’s no other language in the world that everyone, to some degree, understands. Think about a stop sign. These may look different at different corners of the world, but generally and universally, it’s an understood symbol (and the most obvious illustration of visual communication I can think of).

These same rules apply when we are designing for a client. What does the logo really say about the brand? What is its depth and meaning, and how is that visually reinforced? What should users, customers, and community members pick up on and latch on to? What expectations are set and reinforced throughout the output of the brand (on the website, on product packaging, patterns, systems, etc.)

For Fifth + Broadway, it was reinforcing community, centralized location, vibrancy, dynamism, and being in ‘the middle of it all’. Creating a refined brand and now nationally recognized project that has shifted the perspective of downtown Nashville and Lower Broad.

5th + Broadway

For CREW, as we evolved the brand from a b2b to b2c focus, we reinforced the brand system, color palette, and typography to be more appropriate and resonate with the home mixologist. It’s intentionally softer, more approachable, and more inviting/less threatening in an effort to lower the barrier of entry, championing the “craftsman” community and bolstering the brand’s position in a growing market.

CREW


How To Apply This To Your Brand

If you’re reading this and you’re nodding your head, because you’re either doing this well or could be doing it a lot better, I’d push you to look inward and think about every touchpoint someone has with your brand or business.

  • On your website – how are visuals reinforcing your calls to action? What text can be removed in favor of a more concise and/or visual representation?
  • In an advertisement -how are visuals (immediately) grabbing the attention of your audience? It’s a skim and swipe world, and we’re just living in it. What makes you stand out? ,
  • On a store shelf – is it time to be loud and proud, or subtle and understated? Look at what your competitors are doing. Where is it crowded and where is there room to be distinct?

Unpack and look at each of these extensions of your brand, and ask yourself, ”how are we reinforcing the brand’s purpose and visual identity at each touchpoint?” What is your ‘visual language’? What can be said without words and reinforced through imagery, color selections, illustrations, layout, and typography?

Think about what you must say. Only what you must. It’s worth the internal discussion, diligence, and research to understand what to say, what not to, and most importantly, the best way to say what you really mean.

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