When people have so much information presented to them through digital marketing, it is important for an individual business to stand out. How can you make certain that your business is one of the ones that do?
According to a 2017 study, 87% of consumers said that they would buy a product based on the brand’s values – so it’s very important to make sure that you are communicating those values. (ref: http://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2017-csr-study)
This means making a very good first impression – you need to quickly and clearly get your value messages across.
Your value to your client might include:
- How you can resolve their pain points
- What you stand for as a person and a business
- Your manner with people
- Conveniences like your location and price
- How you make your clients feel
Any one of these things could provide that point of difference to a new customer that represents value to them – but having a combination of these will help you stand out more.
Let’s talk about the power of visual branding to get this value message across to your clients.
The Purpose of Visual Branding
Your visual branding’s goal is to achieve two things – firstly, give the right impression to people who’ve never seen you before, and secondly, present this same feeling consistently across your platforms.
You can help to define your visual brand by figuring out:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What can you offer them that no one else can? (this often requires a deep dive into who YOU are)
Then you need to work out how to get this message to your potential audience. Then consistency and repetition of your visual representation will help people to develop trust in your business.
Think of your audience as a friendship you want to create…
It can be a helpful place to start if you think of your business as one person, and your customer audience as one person as well.
Use your description of the ideal customer to create a persona, let’s call her Sarah. Think of Sarah as a connection that has the potential for friendship.
How can you positively influence how Sarah sees you? Then how can you consistently let her know that you have the same values that she does, and that you can enrich her life in some essential way? What will Sarah respond to? What will connect with her?
The Importance of Positioning with Visual Branding
Getting your visual branding right doesn’t mean trying to attract everybody, or promising things that you can’t deliver. You aren’t trying to connect with a wider group of people, but engage with your specific customer base.
Good visual branding is targeted to attract like-minded people who will connect with you and your business, and form an emotional attachment to your brand.
Using your digital presence, you have the potential to directly connect with the perfect customers for you – you just have to position yourself correctly so they can find you and stand out enough that they can remember you.
Positioning is how you stand out – it is what makes your business different from all the others. This is the space in your customer’s mind (and hopefully their heart) that your business occupies.
How do you want to make your clients feel?
You can take steps to influence this, but ultimately you can’t control it. There are some key questions you can ask about your business if you are struggling to work out what you want your visual brand to convey.
How much of YOU is in your visual brand?
Especially in industries such as yours, there is likely to be a certain amount of YOU in your business. A wonderful way to connect with clients is to figure out to represent yourself in your visual brand.
This can be a tricky thing to work out, and sometimes a hard thing to balance, but once you find this the alignment between yourself and your brand makes it much easier to engage your target audience.
How do you want to make your clients feel?
As a tech company, Apple has done very well to stand out from their competitors. They give their customers a feeling that is decidedly non-techy, and that appeals to a wider audience. Yet it still makes each customer feel unique and special, by connecting with their creative, youthful and individual side.
Apple is a wonderful example of how a visual brand can make customers feel a certain way. They tap into the people their customers want to be. While competing with Apple is probably not your priority, every business can learn from their example.
You can give the right perception of your business through visual aspects such as:
- Your colour palette
- Your images and videos
- Your font
- Your tone (formal, informal, authoritative, playful, etc.)
Again, think of your business as a single person – what personality would it have?
How can you convey that personality visually?
If your brand is you, this is where doing a deep dive to find out more about yourself comes into play. Use your findings to pepper through your visual brand to help people get to know you before they meet you.
You can start defining your visual brand through your use of colour. An easy example of the different feelings and impressions that people get from brands who use colour is shown in the below image.
Different colours represent feelings of trust, energy, calm, growth and authority depending on what perception you want your customers to have of you. In general (with occasional exceptions), choosing no more than 2-4 main colours in your brand palette is advised. It is possible to add secondary colours to help support your main colour palette.
And you should also make sure that the same logo and other graphic elements that you use look just as clear in black and white as they do in colour.
What feelings and emotions do you want your customers to experience when they see your brand? Again, aspects like the colours, media, and filters you use will all bring out different emotions in the people who see them.
Do you want to calm people or energise them? Heal them or inspire them? Give them strength or give them sanctuary? Every visual choice you make as a brand will influence how your audience feels.
Here are 5 basic rules for how visual branding can be used to connect with your customers
1. Simple is best
While you don’t want to be bland or forgettable, you want your visual brand to be simple to stick in your audience’s mind. Don’t have too many elements in your visual branding. If you aren’t sure, remove anything that doesn’t directly contribute to the value you are trying to communicate.
Many visual branding strategies provide conflicting information, or needlessly complicate things. If your visual branding doesn’t match your business’s values, customers will be confused and can be turned away.
2. Be authentic
Your goal is to communicate your point of difference as authentically as possible. Be clear and aim to connect with your customers on a human level. We are more likely to buy from brands that feel honest and genuine.
When you are genuine in your branding you become more relatable and accessible to your customers. You also feel more authentic in your business and what you are putting out into the world every day – making you naturally better at what you do.
3. Back this up with proof
Visual branding shows your customers what you look like, but how you do business will also be crucial to developing their impression of you.
Your positioning will become more solid in your customer’s perceptions whenever you can provide proof of your branding.
Work out what your business stands for, and then commit to this. Your commitment will shine through in your brand and in your communications, products, services, customer manner and the role you play in the local and global communities.
If you are in the health or personal services sector, one of the best ways to convey your value is to show your successes. You could include reviews and testimonials on your website and social media. You could share stories and photos of people you’ve helped.
4. Be consistent – and give it time to work
To quote the Harvard Business Review…
Building and then successfully positioning a brand takes time – it doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t something that you can force or fast-track but you absolutely can influence how people see your brand.
5. Tell your story
While visual branding uses more imagery than words, essentially you are using it to tell the story of your business to your audience.
You need to work out what your story is and who needs to hear it. Then work out how to connect with that person.
Create a visual brand that is simple, consistent, genuine and memorable, and then use this brand to tell your story as often as you can to anyone who will listen. Back this up with proof by doing business in a way that reaffirms your story.
This is how you will create a unique place for your brand in the minds and hearts of your customers – and also how you stay there.