Why Your Startup Needs to Find its Visual Identity and Four Things to Look Out For

Guest post by Grant Polachek
You know it’s very difficult to shake off first impressions, and even when you do make a wonderful impression, there’s a constant need to keep yourself updated so you can meet the dynamic needs of your consumer and keep your brand fresh in their minds.

Consider MySpace, the once indisputable king of social media, and their fall from glory. They had the first movers advantage and outgrew the startup phase, making $12 billion in a short time. But cracks started appearing in the company when they over-prioritized ad monetization rather than enhancing the user experience and visual identities. Ultimately, their customer’s impression of the brand fell and so did MySpace.

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Researchers at Princeton University have found that it takes customers only 0.1 seconds to decide whether to associate with your brand. These decisions are affected by consumer trends, which ultimately influences the likability, competence, attractiveness, and the trust of your brand. Customers conclude on all these within the first one second of engaging with your brand.

Today, instant communication is the only response for instant gratification. Millennials and Generation Z’s have gained immense purchasing power, so established companies with an outdated visual framework will fall behind. Leaving room for start-ups with a dynamic approach to take over the market.

To make customers choose your brand in one second, you need to understand what visual identity is.

Visual Identity

Your visual identity isn’t just your logo, but a combination of the various visual elements of your company that comes directly to your customer.

These visual elements include:
  • Logo.
  • Photography.
  • Typography.
  • Color.
  • Creative design.
  • Website themes.
  • Product packaging.
  • and advertisements.

The message is simple. By maximizing your visual identity coherently and consistently across the various channels your brand meets with its customers, your company stands a better chance with customer decisions.

Think about Tesla, a leading pioneer for environmental-friendly EVs, and how their brand stays fresh in the minds of their customers even though the company reportedly spends no money on advertisements. Their visual identity has helped build a strong perception for the company. Making it easy for any customer thinking of an electric vehicle to think of Tesla.

“If your brand is a person, then, your visual identity is your clothes, talk, hair, talk, and how you carry yourself”. – Ben Mathews.

1. Context: Know Your Audience

You’ve heard it a lot of times, customers are supreme, and their patronage is your sustenance. So, ensure that your visual cues resonate with them and also ties back to your brand’s core values, and not the other way around.

Your customer would only listen to your message and more readily buy into it if they see you as a trustworthy value provider. And this would only happen if you considered them while making decisions.

2. Message: The Words and the tone

With your message, you address your customers and share your products and philosophy with them.

A message is a promise. And in speaking, always remember that, “it’s not what you say that matters, but how you say it”.

Your tone must be clear and your message precise. It’s important that you set the tone of your brand as the premise, so every other thing can align with your style.

Some examples of brand tones are:
  • Fun and Playful
  • Pragmatic
  • Amiable or Inviting, Etc.

3. Define your Brand Elements: Color, Logo, Formats, and Photography

Unlike words, colors and impressive imagery never fail to catch the eye. Words alone aren’t enough, and with the competition everywhere, the best thing for your brand to do is capture the imagination of your customers.

Color

62% to 90% of consumer choices are color-based. Your color has to go in palettes; groups that are aesthetically appealing and cohesive. Getting the right color can be challenging, as most colors have innate associations that differ across various cultural contexts. So professional help is your best chance of getting the best fit for your brand.

Logo

Is it misplaced that the world’s greatest brands also have the world’s greatest logos? It takes just 13 milliseconds for our brains to process an entire image and decide if it’s worth our time. Logos are the first graphic representation of your company and customers use them to value the whole brand.

An excellent way to optimize your logo is to tell your brand story and core values through them. Squadhelp provides good instructions on this. Logos with subliminal messages resonate with the customers and make them want to return.

Format

Everyone knows that it’s not just what you say that matters, but how you say it. Your message is beyond the words you say, it includes the scale, font, arrangement of your text, and other aspects that contribute to the subconscious message your audience responds to.

Photography

While your brand’s name and logo might be the first points of engagement customer’s have with your brand online, it’s your images that reinforce the impression you want to create for your brand, taking customers where you want them to be, and setting the mood. Although they’re several images to choose from, consider each one carefully and only choose the ones that reflect your products or services. Getting the images on your online platform wrong is one of the first steps to misleading the customers.

Cupcake is an excellent place to start when thinking of creating an outstanding visual identity for your start-up.

4. Be Consistent

The grand goal of visual cues is to create an emotional connection with your customers. But, it usually starts as the initial catch and shouldn’t end there, because it would never build-up to the end goal of building a connection with your customers. Therefore, consistently delivering on your promise helps your customers to associate your visual identity with the message of your brand.

Conclusion

Understandably, it’s difficult to keep up with the dynamic demands of visual identity in this fast-paced world of consumer marketing. And that’s why your start-up needs to maximize these visual cues, so you can stand a chance in the physical/online marketplace.

Grant Polachek is the Head of Branding at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the worlds #1 naming platform, with 25,000+ customers from early-stage startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning business name ideas.