Your brand’s visual identity

8 minutes

The part you've been waiting for! It's time to dig into our logo, colors, typography, and everything that makes up what our brand looks like — our visual identity.

Visual identity is not about piecing together logos, colors, and fonts until something "looks good", it's about conveying who your company is, your brand attributes, and making your company visually appealing to your target audience.

This also means we have to put personal preference aside for the most part. If you decide your primary brand color will be black because it's your favorite, and you're trying to communicate your eco-friendly products with the mission of creating a brighter, cleaner world — you're going to confuse and drive away your audience instead of attracting them.

Color

Color is one of the most memorable parts of a brand's visual identity. When thinking of some of the world's most recognized brands, such as Coke, Facebook, Netflix, or Starbucks, the color schemes quickly spring to mind.

The reason that these colors are so effective and memorable is that these companies not only select colors that strongly represent their brand attributes, but they have consistently used their colors year after year. It's that clarity and consistent use that will make color an effective tool for your brand.

To define the colors that will be part of your brand, you're going to create a color palette. First, you're going to think of one color that best matches your brand attributes. This will become your primary brand color.

Colors come with an array of different meanings, and while we could look at how colors can represent different industries or types of companies, or even really hone in on the cultural meaning of colors - we're going to put our focus on the psychological meaning of color. This particular focus enables invoking a feeling/response that you want to associate with your brand, and is the most effective way for you to be remembered (if you do not have an emotion as part of your brand attributes, it's worth adding).

Here is a quick guide to color psychology to help you select the colors that best represent your brand.

This primary brand color is the one you will work with to have people associate with your brand. You should protect the usage of this color and elevate it to a point of importance. In other words, you use it only when its job is to represent your brand, but you don't overuse it in less important places. For those, you will add secondary or support colors to your color palette.

The goal of your secondary brand colors is to complement your primary brand color. Those complementary colors, together with your primary brand color, should also represent your brand attributes.

For help finding colors that complement your primary brand color, you can use tools such as https://coolors.co/

Logo

Your logo is the primary way people identify your company, whether it be on your storefront, your business card, website, or your social profiles. For that reason, your logo design is an incredibly important part of your brand.

Just like everything else we've looked at so far, it's not good enough that your logo is pretty or cool. It has to represent your company and who you are. It's the reason some of the world's biggest companies invest so heavily in getting their logo right, because they know that the same logo will be seen millions of times by potential customers, and they not only need to stand out, but they need to clearly communicate who they are.

Being in our industry, you are likely very aware how difficult a badly designed logo can be to work with. Whether it includes lots of gradients and shadows, has fonts that are not outlined to images, or not created as vectors, an ill-designed logo can not only impact how it portrays your company, but can simply be impossible to work with.

One of the prerequisites to creating your logo is graphic design, and knowledge of some graphic design software. You can find thousands of tutorials on the graphic design software process with a quick Google search. For that reason, we're going to focus on really understanding logo design vs. doing it yourself.

First, let's look at the different types of logos.

You need to create your own.

As you can see each option is a symbol, typography, or combination of both. Generally speaking, most companies should at the very least begin with a wordmark or a combination mark. That's because building the recognition needed to effectively use a pictorial, abstract, mascot, or even a lettermark takes a lot of time and investment.

It took years for Apple, Nike, and even NASA to stop using the wordmark with their logo because they had to build the meaning behind the mark before it could be used by itself.

Next, you need to think about the different applications for your logo. Where will you need to use your logo? Will it be printed on products (hopefully you practice what you preach!)? Will there be printing limitations? This can affect your use of color and the complexity of the type and shapes you choose.

Then you want to look at the personality you want your logo to have; for this, you turn back to your brand attributes. Combined with your new understanding of the type of logo you want and how you will use your logo, you now have a solid understanding of what you or your brand/logo designer should be working toward.

Typography

Anything that involves text includes typography. Now think about how much text makes up your company’s websites, business cards, letters, posters, apps, labels... the list goes on. When your audience is in contact with your company, odds are they are in contact with your typography - and that's why it's such an important part of your brand.

As with your colors and your logos, you want the typography you select to represent your brand characteristics. If your brand aims to be fun and happy, you'll want to select typography that embodies that.

With typefaces, there are a number of different classifications to choose from. Each tends to give off a different mood/feeling and meaning.

  • Sans-serif typefaces are typically modern looking. They’re often clean, simple, easy to read on a large scale, and fitting for a lot of things today.

  • Serifs are often considered old-fashioned; they look older and give an older vibe, but they are easier to read for more long-form content such as blogs and books.

  • Monospaced typefaces are often used in computer programming and coding, so they are going to give a technological vibe to your design.

  • Script fonts feel more hand-written and personal, but can vary from cute, modern brush lettering to quite ornate, fancy calligraphy.

  • Blackletter is associated with the Gothic Era and therefore feels darker, creepier, and a bit moody.

When deciding on the font for your brand, you should be aiming to match the classification that best associates with meeting your brand attributes.


At this point you should have an understanding of the three critical parts that make up your brand’s visual identity: your colors, logo and typography. In the next lesson, we'll look at how you can put what you have learned so far into use.

Next lesson in your course

Enforcing and consistency