Why Small Businesses Should Invest in a Visual Brand Identity
The other day, we were thinking about our most successful business clients and asked ourselves: What do they have in common? One aspect we found was that, in one way or another, many of them invested in the resources and paid attention to the details of how they projected their brand visually. The businesses weren’t all the same in that respect, but they did care quite about the core elements of their visual brand identity. What goes into that? There are four basic components:
- Text (fonts)
In that spirit, here’s a quick visualization of the concept:
As you can see, each aspect plays a role in how a particular brand is projected. For example, over the past year or so, we’ve talked at length about the importance of colors and fonts, in particular, and why consistency and restraint matter. We won’t belabor that point anymore but you can read the post here (https://marketingniceguys.com/why-colors-and-fonts-matter-in-marketing/) if you have any questions.
So, for our purposes here, let’s cover a bit more about the remaining two elements: The logo and the photography/visuals.
Creating a Great Logo
Simply because of the frequency by which it appears, your brand logo will always be your most recognizable visual identifier. For that reason, it pays to invest in creating one (or re-envisioning your existing logo) to have the greatest impact. How do you do that?
First, you should certainly hire a professional designer (which we can also help you with at Marketing Nice Guys). Second, it pays to do audience research and have that ready for your logo project. After all, a logo should reflect the audience you’re speaking to, whether that’s a certain demographic, a particular industry, or a specialized profession. Make sure your designer understands those elements, especially the challenges your audience is facing and how you help solve them. Third, your logo should also reflect your brand personality (funny/witty, thoughtful, casual, corporate), as well as act as the guardrail or be the foundation for the use of your colors and fonts. A few other tips as you work to create a great logo:
- Ask your designer to incorporate meaning into the logo. Most good designers will do this anyway, but generally, the principle here is that every line, shape, and icon should mean something in the scope of what you’re trying to communicate as a brand. For example, at its most fundamental level, the Nike logo is known to represent motion and speed (certainly an integral part of any athletic shoes or apparel). Similarly, at Marketing Nice Guys, our logo was created with the “g” and the end parentheses “)” doubling as a smiley face, to represent our “nice guys” approach.
- Have your designer develop a few different concepts/versions and have them be very different in approach. As a small business owner, you’ll want to see a range of options. And most of them should be unique so you can imagine the different possibilities in their use. This will also allow you to choose one that best fits how you want to project the brand.
- Balance any taglines with the visual space and create a version that’s used both horizontally and vertically. For example, if you only have a logo in landscape, sometimes it will be hard to see depending on the design you’re incorporating it into and vice versa for a more vertical logo. Give yourself a few different options so you can apply it in different circumstances.
- Create a version for a light or white background and one for a darker background. Similar to the above point, the reason to do this is that you probably won’t be able to anticipate all of the different uses of your logo on various backgrounds or visual elements, including your website, photos, videos etc. Hence, give yourself the ability to brand your assets regardless of where your logo appears.
- Create guidelines around the use of the logo. For example, a few companies we know don’t allow their logo to be used on anything except a solid background (so it appears more clearly). Many other companies we know will restrict the use of colors to only a few different versions or shades. That kind of rigor will allow you to project a more consistent brand, which will likely increase familiarity and recognizability of your company.
Using Photography and Other Visual Assets
Too often we see small businesses skimp when it comes to getting professional photography or developing original visual assets. And we get the reason why. It can be both time-consuming and costly. But like everything else in marketing, great assets and visuals can be the difference-maker in terms of grabbing your audience’s attention (and someone choosing your brand). Even doing a little bit of creating your own visual assets (getting candid shots of the team, your office space, or great visuals of your products and services) can play a huge role in moving audiences to buy from you. Here are a few tips in this area that we think are worth considering:
Tip No. 1: Stock photo is fine, but original photography is best. As an agency, we work with one organization that does an amazing job of getting both professional and candid shots of its work around the world. With access to that original photography, we are able to distribute more content and brand the organization (through graphics, social media posts, and videos) – so much more than we could if we just used stock photography. Original photography is much more intimate in that respect in that audiences get to see the brand revealed, including the fact that it provides real proof of the great work that it does.
Tip No. 2: Invest in video. It will pay off in so many ways. We know we sound like a broken record here but creating video should really be one of your prime areas of focus as a small business – at least from a digital content marketing perspective. Video can be used in all aspects of the marketing funnel:
- Top-of-the-funnel: For branding the organization and making audiences aware of the products and services. Video ads, for example, are often the most effective from an ad performance standpoint, but also content videos work really well here to establish authority.
- Middle-of-the-funnel: Adding videos will often improve email engagement. Videos are also used to provide tips or advice that are only accessed after an individual registers or submits his/her/their email.
- Lower-funnel: Getting video testimonials from customers is a great example of demonstrating social proof (what buyers often need before making a purchase). You can also engage your current customers with a video here that helps them use your products or services or helps them make the most of it.
Tip No. 3: Create well-designed infographics, sales collateral, or other marketing assets. If you can afford it, we always recommend investing with a professional designer as they can provide a unique look for your brand through infographics and other marketing collateral that you likely can’t find anywhere else. That said, if you’re cash-strapped, why not try Canva? At $12/mo., it will probably be the most valuable tool you’ll buy, allowing you to design almost anything you’d want. It’s great for infographics, brochures, social media posts, videos, and just about anything else that can give your brand that visual boost. For us, it’s a tool we use every day!
Again, we get the fact that any investment in design and image assets costs money. But we do find that those who can do it will often be more effective in their marketing because they create a strong visual brand. As always, if you have questions, feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We’re happy to discuss your challenges and set you on the right path toward marketing success.