pixel facebook analyticsThe Key Visual and Non-visual Elements of Branding Design

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Solid branding can help your company gain attention, build trust, and loyalty. If you think slapping on a logo and calling it a day is sufficient, think again. These are the key components of branding design.

The reason why brand design is important is that it’s the foundation for compelling, engaging communication towards potential customers. Without a solid brand identity, it’s a near-impossible task for any designer to create marketing assets, which are crucial to communicate the value of your business or product.

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But precisely what is brand identity design? To get an answer, we need to break down a brand identity by its elements. Brand identity design is much more than a logo; some key elements may not have even crossed your mind.

Your brand is the sum of how viewers perceive your business plus your mision, vision and values added up. Branding consists of the design choices you consciously make to shape this perception. This all relies on your brand identity, meaning the collection of design elements you use.

To establish a more in-depth answer to the question: “what is brand identity design?”, we’ll look at the key visual and non-visual branding design elements individually.

Visual Branding Elements

The visual branding elements are, you guessed it, the elements you can see. With brand identity design, also known as corporate identity design, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely the logo. Don’t get us wrong; that is a non-negotiable element. But it doesn’t stop there.

To establish that well-loved brand you’ve always dreamt of, certain elements need your time and attention. Let’s go over them one by one.

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Logo

Let’s state the obvious: every brand needs a logo. Logo and identity design go hand-in-hand, so this key element is non-negotiable.

Did you know that 75% recognize a brand by its logo, making it the main brand identifier? According to another study, 50% say they are much more likely to engage with a company whose logo they easily recognize. That same survey by Study Finds states that 60% typically avoid companies with weird or unattractive logos, even if that company has good reviews.

A logo may be a small icon, but in essence, it’s your whole brand’s identity boiled down into a recognizable image. This graphical symbol is the image that conjures up a particular emotion (negative, positive, or indifferent).

The pressure is on to get it right since a logo goes on nearly every asset you have. A logo can show your audience your purpose and positioning, which are critical factors in branding design.

Color palette

Another key element in branding design is the color palette. Colors evoke emotions and have various meanings in various cultures.

Before picking a specific color, it’s not a bad idea to brush up on your color knowledge. Make sure the color you choose isn’t offensive to your audience and matches the tone you’d like to set with your brand. Color Psychology’s website is a good place to start.

The color you pick will become synonymous with your brand if you’re lucky. Imagine; any time people see ‘your color,’ they’ll think of your brand. It has happened to some brands that cleverly trademarked colors. Tiffany blue and UPS brown, for example.

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Tiffany & Co. box in the famous Tiffany Blue color, via Daily Art Magazine

Shape

A logo and color palette may seem obvious, but have shapes and figures crossed your mind yet? It makes a substantial difference whether you pick organic fluid forms versus sharp-angled shapes.

The shapes and forms you use for your brand identity design should be carefully considered, depending on the message you want to convey to your audience.

For example, if you’re an all-natural skincare brand, it makes sense to pick organic shapes and forms. However, if you’re a coding company, you might consider more artificial shapes.

Tagline

“Just do it.” “I’m lovin’ it.” Chances are you instantly know which brands these belong to. Pretty impressive for just a few words, right?

Your tagline is the flagship of your brand messaging and should be short and sweet. It should communicate your brand offer, giving your logo additional information and context.

This allows for a lasting effect during a brief encounter. It gives your audience another element of the complete picture to remember you by.

Fonts

The type of font you choose impacts the personality and values you portray as a brand. Since text is used in most of your marketing assets, you shouldn’t pick a font randomly.

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A font can be playful or professional, bold or timid, unique or mundane, and everything in between.

Much like a color that evokes certain emotions, fonts can do the same. Picking the wrong font can put a serious dent in the image of your identity design, so select one carefully.

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A font doesn’t get much more iconic than the Coca-Cola font, officially named Spencerian font (via 1001Logos). A staggering 94% recognize the logo with its unique font, which has barely changed throughout the years. Talk about a successful font pick!

Imagery

Imagery overlaps with color palette and shape. However, it’s more than that. It’s about how you visually present yourself as a brand.

This includes stock photos, gradient backgrounds, product packaging, storefronts, and much more. By imagery, we mean your overall brand aesthetics.

Using a series of playful graphics on your website will send mixed messages if you take a monochromatic approach on your social media channels.

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Non-visual Branding Elements

When designing a brand, there is more to it than just the visual aspects. The best brand design also looks beyond what’s visible and digs a little deeper.

Good branding design includes a handful of non-visual aspects as well. We’ll review some of the key non-visual elements that any corporate identity should include.

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Positioning

What is it about your offer that makes it more attractive than others? This is your niche. A corporate identity isn’t complete without a positioning like this.

The only way to successfully determine your positioning as a brand is by doing extensive research. Once you know everything there is to know about your target audience and your competitors, you can position yourself in a way that grabs your audience’s attention.

Emotional values

People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

This also rings true for a brand encounter. People don’t remember the fine details of your message, especially when it’s a fleeting encounter on social media. But they do remember how this message made them feel.

You can play into this by using particular colors and shapes but also by crafting strong emotional values.

Aligned beliefs between your brand and customer, plus sharing passions and affinities, will create a strong emotional bond.

Tone of voice

The tone of voice you use as a brand can impact how people portray you. If you sound a bit snobbish, people will think you’re stuck-up and a lot less likable than when you sound friendly and genuine.

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Get acquainted with communication strategies that will humanize your brand

Anytime you communicate through words with your audience, you should consider the tone of voice. When you post a caption on your Instagram account, for example, but also when naming your products.

A famous example here is Starbucks and the names they have given their cups. They don’t use small or regular coffee like everyone else; you order a venti, grande, or a tall coffee.

Another example is how body-scrub brand frank body portrays itself with playful copy that usually includes a pun or two. It shows that they’re playful and don’t take themselves overly seriously.

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frank body’s homepage

Your tone of voice should be a conscious decision you make that seamlessly fits your brand’s overall image.

Customer service

If you see your customer service as something your company should take care of, you’re missing out on an important branding opportunity. The way you treat your customers can make or break lifelong relationships, trust, and loyalty. A big pillar in this is your customer service. Nearly 80% of people will forgive a bad experience if they receive great customer service.

The way you interact with customers and how you handle after-service is becoming increasingly important with digitalization. A one-star review can ruin your reputation, so keeping customers happy is important.

Some brands have such fantastic customer service that it became a part of their branding. One example is Lush, a cosmetics brand that takes a personal approach whenever a potential customer enters their shop.

Collaborations

Just like your personal identity, who you affiliate yourself with as a brand plays a role in how others portray you. For example, an actor involved in a scandal but gets cast for a film anyway will receive a lot of backlash.

As part of your branding, collaborating with influencers or other brands should be an important factor. Picking just any Instagram personality with many followers can make your brand seem untrustworthy, as does collaborating with a brand with opposite values.

If chosen carefully, a collaboration can positively affect how you are portrayed among your audience. A rule of thumb is to be picky and do your research.

Consistency is key

If there’s one reason why brand design is essential, it’s because it creates a coherent image that is easily recognizable. And that’s why above all, consistency is key.

Consistent design will create loyalty and trust with your consumers. People naturally respond well to the same design elements that may have prompted that initial purchase.

Additionally, it allows for a better user experience. It makes the outcome of their actions easier to predict, therefore giving them a sense of being in control.

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Brand guidelines by one of ManyPixels’ designers

Setting up brand guidelines is a great way to achieve consistency throughout your organization. Share it with co-workers and stakeholders to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Brand recognition can only be achieved when your branding is consistent throughout.

Getting great branding design

As you can tell, branding design is a lot to unpack. Multiple key elements are necessary to create a brand identity, so if you feel completely overwhelmed at this point, know that you’re not the only one.

Of course, a successful brand identity only works when the design is striking. You can have each element in the pocket, but if they’re executed poorly, you’re still nowhere near a trustworthy and recognizable brand.

One way to get your hands on striking branding elements is through a subscription-based graphic design service such as ManyPixels. We offer unlimited design for a flat monthly fee.

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Especially when it comes to branding, this is one of the more affordable options. We understand that when you’re starting out, you don’t have the financial muscles to hire an in-house designer.

That’s why we offer three affordable plans, each containing unlimited design and revisions for all the graphic assets you need. If you’re ready to transform your company into an established brand, give us a call!

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Guest Writer: Simone Timmers

June 14, 2022

Simone is a Dutch writer, currently living in Malawi. Whenever not stringing words together, or on her yoga mat, she is preferably exploring any off the beaten track she can find.