Have you ever seen an image on a social media feed or in an ad and you knew exactly who or what brand it belonged to before reading the name? The reason other brands are so recognizable is that they have a cohesive and consistent visual branding strategy. One of the most powerful branding elements is visual – done well, it tells stories, evokes emotions, and generates a visceral response. And to do that, you need more than just a logo and brand colors.
Large companies spend incredible sums to build and maintain a brand, but that doesn’t mean visual branding is inaccessible to small businesses. Successful brands, large or small, are visually consistent. Visual consistency conveys an attention to detail and a clear understanding of the brand’s messaging and target audience – all characteristics you want to convey to your customers and clients. Visual consistency also builds trust; your customers and clients know what quality to expect from not only your marketing but from your products and services.
Are your brand visuals showing your brand in the best light and connecting you with the right customers? Whether you are a DIYer or have a small team who helps you out, the simplest of visual branding strategies starts with a visual asset audit – a quick overview of what you have, where you use it, and what you need.
What are your current visual assets? In this context, your visual assets are what create a unified brand experience to your audience, what give you a cohesive look and feel both online and offline. You probably have a logo and brand colors, some graphical elements, and perhaps even specific fonts, but do you have product photos, stock photos, social media images that align with your overall style and branding? It may be helpful to identify key visuals you are using, and collect them in a folder or private Pinterest board. Are your visuals consistent with your messaging, and brand personality? Are your photos consistent with each other?
Placement and Platforms
Where does your audience come into contact with your business and brand? Think of both the online world and the real world – do your customers see and interact with your printed collateral, web site, social media? All are very visual media where images can catch your audience’s attention before they read any words. Do your images enhance your brand’s personality or do they detract from your messaging?
Evaluate and Prioritize
Using my downloadable Brand Photo Audit, determine where your visual branding is strongest and weakest. What visual assets elevate your brand? What needs improvement? What doesn’t work for your brand? What visuals are inconsistent with your messaging or even inconsistent with your other visuals? Are your visuals telling the story of your brand?
Are there any visuals you need but are completely missing from your asset library?
Sometimes as small business owners who are personally invested in our brand, we find it difficult to step back and take an objective look at our brand’s visual cohesiveness and consistency. I’ve created a downloadable checklist to help you identify your assets, your visual presence, and your visual needs. Once you’ve identified where you need to strengthen your visuals, a good place to start is by creating a handful of custom branded multi-purpose stock images that you can use across platforms and media and which convey your business’ personality and values.
Imagine that your business is the one people recognize just by your visual style. Even the smallest of businesses can achieve brand recognition with a little reflection, evaluation, and planning.
Ready to evaluate your visual branding using the Brand Photo Audit? Take 15 minutes out of your day today to find out where you stand and create a roadmap toward more effective visual branding. When you’re done, I’d love to know how your audit went: where are your visual strengths and weaknesses? Do you have new visual branding goals? Tell me your branding story and where you’d like it to go from here.