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The DIY Guide to visual branding for small and medium business

The DIY Guide to visual branding for small and medium business



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min read

Anyone can recognise a Coca Cola or a McDonald's sign, ad or product from a mile away, right? That’s due to their visual branding. Of course your small business isn’t a multi million pound corporation, but good visual branding is extremely important for your SMB’s marketing efforts as well.

What is visual branding?

It is the way you communicate your identity in a visual way, meaning colours, shapes, fonts, images, etc. Visual branding is just as important for small business owners and medium business owners.

Why brand identity is important?

The visual side of all your communications and marketing materials needs to convey your business’s personality since this creates an emotional connection between you and your target audience. Plus, it lets potential customers recognise and remember your business.

Visual branding does three crucial things for your business:

  1. Sets you apart from the competition
  1. Lets customers know what to expect from you
  1. Makes you look professional and trustworthy

If you’re unsure as to whether your current branding is achieving all three of the above, it may be time to revisit and rebrand. Read on to discover how you can tell if your branding is working for your business and what to do when it’s not.

When you start to look at your business’s visual branding, you need to ask yourself two questions.

  1. Is your offline and online visual branding consistent?[Text Wrapping Break]Your visual branding should be the same for your brick and mortar, if you have one, and for your online presence. Your signage, business cards, promotional materials and packaging should all speak the same visual language as your website and social media accounts.  

93% of purchasing decisions are made based on visual perceptions, so even if you’re a small business, all of your visual output should communicate the right tone of voice.

  1. Is your branding visible across all online channels?[Text Wrapping Break]Your visual branding should be the same for all your social accounts and online listings. Why? So that customers can instantly recognise you when they’re looking for you online.  

It’s very common that businesses in the same field have similar names. So if a customer already knows you on Instagram and is now looking for you on Facebook, you want them to recognise you right away. Otherwise, some other business with a similar name might reap the benefits of your efforts.     

How to ensure you have clear and consistent visual branding?

Before delving into the specifics, you need to know who you are as a business. This will help you make decisions in the next categories. Ask yourself: What does your brand stand for? What’s important to you? Who is your target audience?  

Everyone recognises Coca Cola and McDonald's, but not everybody likes them – which is fine. Obviously a fast food chain like McDonald's doesn’t try to appeal with its visual branding to people looking for fine dining.

You can’t be everything to everyone. For example, if you’re a yoga instructor who specialises in spiritual Kundalini yoga, you don’t need to appeal to those who are looking for yoga classes only for the fitness benefit. If you are a plumber who is a qualified steamfitter, you don’t need to be a gas service technician as well. If your hair salon caters to sophisticated older ladies, there is no need for your brand to appeal to young hipsters. Figuring these things out is crucial to developing a strong visual presence.  

Brand identity design

Keep your brand identity in mind as you start to make decisions on the 5 key elements to your business visual branding:

1. Logo

The first thing, and probably the most important, in visual branding is your logo. Just think of the Adidas trefoil logo, the Nike swoosh or Apple's apple. These logos are instantly recognisable and they mean something to you and to everyone else.

Your logo makes it easy for people to recognise and remember you, inspiring loyalty. It is the first impression you give out to customers, whether its text based or an icon. And even the mere fact that you have a logo implies professionalism – no matter how small your business. A logo also creates an emotional connection, which works in establishing a strong brand-consumer relationship. 

Top Tip: Your logo should be unique and recognisably different from others.

2. Colour Palette

Choosing your colour scheme is crucial when developing your visual branding. The Institute for Colour Research reveals that people make a subconscious judgment about an environment or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing, and between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone. 

Your colour scheme will be the basis of your logo, the walls in your business (if you have a physical one), your website design – everything.  

As with all parts of your visual branding, you have to think who your target audience is and what colours appeal to them. 

When deciding on a colour palette there are a few things to consider: psychology (different colours have different psychological effects), culture (colours have different meanings across cultures) and trends (which sometimes are better to avoid).

Top Tip: When writing down which colours you’re going to use, write them in hex colour code to make it easier for designers.

3. Font

After choosing your colours, choose your fonts. Think which font best matches your brand. According to a study by the University of Wales, people choose brands twice as frequently when they have an appropriate font.

4. Images

Do you use photographs, illustrations or just graphic designs? Are your images of real people or stock photos? Are your photos in colour or black and white? Do you use close-up photography or whole body images?

These are all things you need to think about and consider.  

5. Patterns  

Some brands use patterns such stripes, triangles or polka dots. Others don’t. Decide what’s right  for your brand’s visual language. 

Keep it Consistent

Once you’ve got all your elements in check, the most important thing is being consistent. Make sure you use the same logo, colour scheme and visual language across the board. When you have a visual language that people recognise, it means they recognise your brand – that’s how you set your business apart and stand out. Maintaining consistency is a proven way for your visual branding to succeed.  

Top Tip: When it comes to social media, it’s worth creating several posts in advance and pre-scheduling posting time. This will help you maintain visual consistency on your page from the get go.  

One last thing: Research each one of these factors a bit online. After choosing your logo, color scheme, fonts, etc., test your decisions on people around you. Show them, ask them what they think, and see how they respond. Make sure you ask people that are in your target audience. Like we said, your visual branding should appeal to your target audience; it doesn’t have to appeal to everybody. 

Branding has many aspects, but visual branding is one of the most important. As humans we are visual by nature. In fact, the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. 

Entrepreneur said it best: “Your brand is your promise to your customer”. This not only conveys the importance of branding, but also how you should think of it. 

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