For DTC Brands, Visual Identity is Everything: How to Develop a Kickass Visual Identity for Your Brand
Your brand’s visual identity is a critical tool. According to 2019 research by Quick Sprout, users will leave a website if they have had a bad experience with how it looks. Instead, they’ll visit a site that offers visually appealing content.
To put this another way: you could lose a third of your customers or more, just because your brand hasn’t nailed its visual identity. That’s a startling fact, and it drives home just how crucial visual identity really is – especially for DTC brands, who interact directly with consumers.
Fortunately, great visual identities are made, not born, and you can enhance yours with a few proactive steps.
Here’s our complete guide:
10 Tips to Create a Strong Visual Presence
Make your brand more beautiful and immediately recognizable with these ten tips:
1. Know Your Audience
Imagine trying to sell someone a car, but you have no idea who the would-be customer is, or what their priorities are. It’d be pretty hard to find a vehicle that matched their requirements, budget, and aesthetic aspirations, right? The same goes for the design of your website. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, you’re not going to communicate effectively.
With this in mind, the first step of any visual identity campaign should be understanding your customers. Most companies do this by creating a few marketing personas, which provide actionable insights into your various audience segments and their priorities. If you have audience personas but haven’t updated them recently, take some time to do it before you dive into your brand’s visual assets.
2. Start With a Great Logo
Your brand’s logo is the equivalent of its elevator pitch: it communicates who you are in a streamlined, compact, easily-digestible form, and it’s critical to get it right. Not only does a confusing or indecipherable logo confuse your customers, but it creates an almost visceral desire to bounce off your page, for many people.
As an example, consider these failed logo rebrands, and how different the second versions feel from the first:
To strengthen your brand identity, avoid the mistakes these brands have made. The best logos are…
- Easy to read
- Featuring a recognizable color scheme
- Representative of your company and goals
The best way to ensure you wind up with a logo like this is to hire a professional logo designer to create a logo for you. This guarantees professional work and a high-quality finished product.
3. Create Visual Branding Guidelines
Hiring a logo designer is a great example, as long as you give them the information they need to do good works for you. To put it simply: even the most talented designers are limited by the amount of direction you’re capable of giving them.
Although you don’t need to create a textbook of branding requirements, you should be able to define guidelines for certain elements of your visual identity, including the following:
- Color palette
- Fonts and typography
- Data visualization
- Interactive elements
- Video and visual assets
- Web design
- And anything else that’s essential to your brand
3. Simplify Your Web Design
One of the best tenants of good writing is “draft your piece and then cut 30% of it.” The same goes for web design. While you don’t need to get rid of critical elements of your website, like pages and links, you should look for areas to “trim the fat.”
Start with things like low-quality images, jumbled favicons, too-long page text, and anything that’s not responsive on all devices. The simpler and more precise you manage to make your website, the most user-friendly it’ll become.
4. Keep it Consistent
One of the common killers of even good visual identities is inconsistency. A great logo loses its impact when it’s attached to a website with different typography and colors. A strong website becomes confusing when linked with social media platforms with different voices, tones, and language.
With this in mind, keep your web design elements as consistent and predictable as possible. Providing a unified experience is critical to winning the trust of your customers and creating a recognizable brand across all platforms.
5. But Add Some Diversity
Consistency should apply to all visual elements of your website, but it should still be diverse and visually appealing. For best results, keep the styles of your images consistent, while varying the content.
For example, add a variety of images with a variety of people or characters that make your site more appealing and interesting. Representation is important, and including a variety of genders and diverse images is the best way to ensure it.
6. Enhance Your Typography
Typography is a major issue in many visual identities. Fortunately, it’s also an easy one to fix. In most cases, your font size is simply too small or too cluttered, or your characters are difficult to read. To avoid this, check out the typography test first introduced by Jessica Hische:
7. Keep the Colors Simple
Every website needs some color, but the dose makes the poison. Even if your brand is vibrant and fun, adding too many colors will overwhelm it quite quickly.
To avoid this, stick with two primary colors, a maximum of 5 complementary colors, and two distinct accent colors. Any more than this, and you risk a site that feels noisy and disjointed.
8. Create Style Guidelines
Once you’ve designed your website, create style guidelines to help you recreate it down the road. This is by far the best way to maintain your visual identity and ensure every content creator you work with knows how to deliver on-brand content for your company.
For best results, draft this visual identity in a document, including a few examples, and put it all in a place that your employees and future freelancers can access easily, like a shared Google Drive folder.
9. Make Everything Responsive
While responsiveness isn’t explicitly your visual identity, it makes a massive difference in how customers see you or don’t see you.
In a world where the majority of good websites are responsive, it’s safe to bet that customers will bounce quickly off of websites that aren’t. Today, 72% of your customers want mobile-friendly websites, and nearly ¾ of consumers say they’ll happily return to a site that works well on mobile.
With this in mind, be sure to integrate responsive design into your visual identity, as it will serve you well both now and in the future.
10. Prioritize Photography
Your images are only as good as the visuals underlying them. Because of this, it’s critical to start with great photos. If it’s time to upgrade your photo game, try The Hub. We connect talented freelance photographers to brands in need of high-quality visual content.
For DTC brands, building a strong visual identity is critical, especially in a world where the DTC market is becoming more and more saturated. Fortunately, it’s far from impossible. By following the tips in this post, you can build a strong visual identity that benefits your brand both now and in the future.