Creating a Visual Brand

What you need to know to craft a compelling logo and more.

First things first, your company’s visual brand is more than just the logo. Second if you don’t implement that visual brand, the logo and everything else you have created will be basically useless. This process starts with consistency but it shouldn’t end there.

What you really want to do with your visual identity is craft it so it is coherent and adaptable. This gives the impression of consistency without putting you into a creative straitjacket. So let’s stretch those imagination muscles a bit—doesn’t that feel better?

The basics

To start, don’t decide to come up with a new logo and visual identity just for the sake of change. British designer and brand consultant Simon Manchipp said it well, “A new logo should be a symbol of change, not a change of symbol.”

A well-designed visual identity should be viewed as an asset for your business—not an expense that must be endured. After all, a logo and its accompaniments can and should help your business get into your customers’ heads. Of course this won’t happen unless you use and promote that visual identity. And don’t expect your logo to achieve recognition instantly.

The nitty gritty

You are sold on the why of creating a visual identity, and you’ve got the business-inspired change to back up the new symbolism. Now what?

The jumping off point should be a color palette—think one to three primary shades, with a couple of secondary colors as well. Now it’s time to start thinking about a font. You want it to fit the mood/style of your company, and it has to be readable. Next, you are ready to take on a logo and word mark. Ideally, you will want two versions: a primary and a secondary. The primary is your go-to, while the secondary will be a more condensed option that works in smaller spaces, say for instance if you wanted to gently place (Not slap! Never slap!) your logo on a T-shirt or a hat.

The not-so-necessary

Like most things in life, you can take a visual brand in a lot of directions—it all depends on how carried away you want to get. That being said, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to. So what are some things that aren’t required when creating a new visual identity?

It all depends on the situation. For example, two things that your company may not need are a branded email signature and fancy headshots. The email signature is likely to get cut off or not even show depending on a person’s email and what device they’re using to view your missive. When it comes to headshots, those will depend on how vital they are to your company and its image.

Basically, whatever components you are considering as part of your visual identity, just ask yourself if they are critical and if they will do enough to promote your brand. With a brand, as with many things in life, an elegant simplicity is often more effective than a lot of unnecessary parts.