In our latest business blog series, Greg Smith, Co-founder and Director at F8 Creates based in Worcester, discusses how to create a visual identity for your business.
When you think of a visual identity for a business, what springs to mind? A logo? Colours? Signage?
Actually, it’s all of these things and much more. Every visual element of your business makes up your visual identity and needs to be effective, consistent and on-brand. It all counts.
Whether you’re a startup, or you’re embarking on a brand refresh, it’s very useful to produce a mood board to gather your ideas together. If you’re working with a creative agency it’s a great way to communicate your brief.
Here are some important themes to think about to form the basis of your mood board:
Before starting anything else, it’s important to understand the reason for doing what you’re doing. Ask yourself, what do you want your business to achieve for your clients? What do you want your business to achieve for you? Are you looking to launch a new product, or enter a new market? Do you want to change the perception that people already have of your business?
Try to write a short mission statement that answers these questions and add it to your mood board. Alternatively, just write down 5-10 words that describe your mission. You’ll find it helps to focus the rest of the process.
Arguably the most important piece of the puzzle is your target audience, so it’s worth taking the time to define and research your potential clients. Try to figure out what makes them tick and what they get excited about.
Open some of your competitor’s websites, and try to put yourself in the mindset of a client. How does it make you feel about the company it represents? Is it visually appropriate? Do you feel confident that they will provide the service that you’re looking for and do a good job? Try to think of other websites in other industries or markets that should be designed to appeal to your audience. Are your customers looking for luxury? Look at Rolls Royce or
Chanel. Is your service aimed at new parents? Look at Mothercare or Jojo Maman Bebe.
Take screenshots of the ones that work well and put them on your mood board. Sometimes it’s useful to add particularly bad examples to remind yourself what doesn’t work!
There are many thousands of fonts available, but they all fit into a much smaller number of style categories, and different font styles have different meanings. It’s the role of your designer to find an appropriate font to use in your logo, on your marketing material and your website, but you can help by adding some font examples to your mood board. Look at other companies that have similar values to you, and look at what fonts they use as part of their identity.
Are you looking to appear trustworthy and traditional? Perhaps a serif font would be appropriate?
Is your company image strong and reliable? A small-caps font might be more suitable.
Are you a modern, forward-thinking brand? Look at sans-serif fonts.
Trust your instincts and gut feeling when it comes to a font. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it probably won’t feel right to your audience.
Shortlist some fonts that fit your brand values, and add them to your mood board.
When choosing colours, whilst the hue that you choose is important, its meaning can be very subjective. For instance, for some people red might signify danger, whilst others might find it exciting.
It’s far more important to get the tone of the colour right. Should it be vivid, or muted? Dark or light? Primary or monochrome.
An impactful, bold brand may need a bright, punchy highlight colour.
A professional, corporate brand may require a dark colour.
A clean modern brand might work best in monochrome.
Colour combinations and the ratio at which they’re used is also very important. A dark background with a sparsely used accent colour can really draw attention. Likewise, a soft, muted combination can appear calm and inviting.
It’s useful to add colours and examples of their use to your mood board. As with fonts, trust your instincts. Colours will make you feel a certain way, and you’ll probably experience them in a similar way to your audience.
The content of your photographs and images obviously needs to be appropriate to your services or products, but their tone and composition must also complement the rest of your visual identity. If your brand has soft, muted colours, your photography should have a similar feel. A dark brand will probably benefit from low key, suitably colourful photography, or perhaps bright images to create contrast. The most important factor is consistency, so ensure that your photographer is treating your images with the same process.
Have a look at photos and images from brands that are similar to yours and try to look past their content or subject. Are they indoor or outdoor? Corporate or informal? On-site? Personal or generic?
If you have any room left on your mood board, add some photos to it.
So what’s next?
Once you complete this process, you should have a mood board that represents all the major areas of your visual identity. Take some time to look at it and reflect. Do the elements work together? If you have to go back and add to it from earlier stages then do so. Ideally, this process will be undertaken with your creative agency involved and, by the end, they will have everything they need to create your visual identity and collateral.
The final piece of the puzzle
Make sure that you have a brand guideline document drawn up with guidance on using your visual identity and its components. This doesn’t have to be complicated, it just needs to ensure consistency, wherever your visual identity is used or represented.
we have over 10 years of experience creating visual identities for a wide variety of
clients in different industries. If we can help, give Greg a shout on 01905 612260 or