Visual Branding Basics

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but do you know how true that really is? Did you know, for example, that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that 80% of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing. The only question, then, is how you break into visual branding and do it well.

In this guide, we’re going to discuss the basics of visual branding, from what precisely a visual brand is to how to create a strong one for your company.

Let’s get started.

5 Critical Elements of Visual Branding

The concept of a “brand” is expansive. When you think of the things that comprise your company’s brand, your logo, voice, messaging, and advertisements probably come to mind. There’s also all of that intangible stuff, like your company’s culture, people, location, and more. All of it goes into creating a brand that your customers can rely on and recognize in a crowd.

A visual brand works off the same concept but is more specific to visual content. For example, a company’s visual brand will likely include its logo, its color scheme, the images it chooses to share on social media, and the design of its website. 

To break this down even more, we can take a look at three key elements: brand mark, color, typeface, graphics, and images. These three elements work together to create a comprehensive visual brand identity. 

Here’s a description of each, and how they work together:

1. Brand Mark

Think of the golden arches of McDonalds or Nike’s iconic swoosh. These are typographic brand marks that are instantly recognizable. Here are a few other great examples you may recognize:

visual branding basics

2. Color Palette

Part of what the brain loves so much about visual content is color. That’s because color means something to us as people. Red, for example, is powerful and dynamic enough to energize audiences. 

Yellow is cheerful and happy. Blue is calming and can create feelings of trust in consumers. As you think of your brand’s visual identity, think of how major corporations like Coca-Cola have used color (red, in this case) to make themselves more recognizable visually:

3. Typography

Typography may seem like a small thing when it comes to visual branding, but it’s critically important. Your brand says a lot about who it is through the shape and style of the text you use. 

No matter what font you choose to use, keep it consistent throughout your visual branding. Take an example from Apple, who communicates a sense of neatness and innovation by using Helvetica Neue typeface in all of its visual branding:

visual branding basics

4. Imagery

A picture can be worth more than 1,000 words, depending on how you use it. As you think about your brand’s visual identity, consider what your images are saying about you. Are they clean and spare, bright and vivid, or creative and unique? 

visual branding basics

Work by H Hub creator Juj W

Regardless of what message you’re trying to send, incorporating great visuals is a critical step. The best way to do this is to invest in professional images, rather than trying to DIY them. 

Here at The H Hub, we offer a comprehensive network of professional, freelance photographers and videographers to choose from. No matter what you’re looking for, we’ll help you find the right professional for the job. 

5. Graphic Elements

Last but not least, you’ll want to consider graphic elements. These are not the same as your images. Instead, graphic elements include things like icons, color blocks, charts, infographics, and more. These things are important, as they help define and reinforce your visual branding. 

You’ll also want to consider how much white space you use in your site design, how you size your images and where you place them, and how the flow of your visual content prioritizes information, like Article does on their site:

visual branding basics

The Importance of Creating Consistency in Your Visual Branding

A strong visual identity is a consistent visual identity. This consistency must extend to all design elements and across all marketing channels, including the following:

  • Logo
  • Color palette
  • Imagery
  • Typeface
  • And more

While creating consistency may seem simple, it gets considerably more complicated when you consider that every social channel has a distinct audience and presentation. While YouTube deals specifically with video content, Instagram is a visual platform. 

When you create a consistent visual identity, though, you’ll be able to adapt your marketing message much more easily to these various channels without sacrificing recognizability. 

5 Common Visual Branding Mistakes

Visual branding can be tough to master, and it’s natural to make a mistake or two. If you can avoid these five common mistakes, though, you’ll enjoy smoother sailing:

  • Design inconsistency. This is most common in new brands, who are still trying to decide who they are. These brands tend to haphazardly use a font or a color that’s well outside of their standard style. While a mistake like this probably won’t cause the brand to go out of business or experience a severe crash in sales, it can be damaging to the overall responsibility of the brand. Avoid this by keeping everything consistent at all times. Change nothing, or change everything, but don’t take a piecemeal approach.
  • Copying another brand. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the world of visual branding, though, imitation just looks like an imitation. Instead of making your brand a copycat of another one you admire, keep pushing, and establish your own digital identity. 
  • Not knowing who your target audience is. If you want to create a compelling visual brand, you have to know who you’re targeting. This means understanding your audience, their demographics, and their priorities, and developing a visual brand that will speak to them. 
  • Relying too much on your logo. Your logo is a critical element of your visual branding, but it’s only one element. Don’t rely too heavily on your logo, at the expense of the rest of your visual branding. 
  • Off-brand images. The images you use in your branding should reflect your brand and its target audience. Using visuals that don’t represent either of these things can throw your customers off. 

Leave Room for Your Visual Branding to Change Over Time

As your brand grows, the elements you use for your visual branding will grow right along with it. This may mean that the visual brand you start with at the beginning of your company’s lifespan will not resemble the brand you have 5 or 10 years in. And that’s okay. Branding, in general, is a fluid pursuit. 

Visual branding, specifically, should grow and change as your brand grows and changes. To see evidence of this in the real world, all you need to do is look back at the evolution of major brands like McDonald’s and Apple. What doesn’t bend breaks, and this is true with visual branding as it is with anything else.

Ready to take your brand to the next level? Here at The H Hub, we can help you find high-quality, freelance photographers, and videographers for your upcoming campaign.