What is a brand’s visual identity? Thinking about your business brand as a person can help you get a grip on its visual identity. If your business brand were a person, your visual identity would be its personal style. For instance, consider the following three very different visual identities:
- A buttoned-up banker in a custom-tailored suit, with every hair in place and an expensive briefcase
- A bearded hipster with a passion for craft beer, a nose ring and a full sleeve of tattoos
- A man with average-length mousy brown hair, khaki pants and a polo shirt
As you can see from the three examples above, every brand has a visual identify—it’s just that some make a stronger impression and are more memorable than others.
Key elements of your brand’s visual identity
What makes up a brand’s visual identity? Here are some of the key elements:
Color: From bright, vibrant colors to tasteful neutrals or high-end metallics, color says a lot about your brand. Between 62%-90% of a person’s assessment of a product is based on color alone, according to one study. Xerox Metallic Dry Inks add sparkle to your print marketing materials more affordably than using metallic paper or foil stamping. (Learn more about the various emotions that different colors can evoke in your customers and how to choose the right colors for your marketing materials.)
Fonts/typography: The style of fonts you use helps to convey your business brand. A reliable provider of business services might use a traditional serif font to convey stability; a craft brewery might choose a rugged font to convey its handmade character; a beauty brand might choose a delicate, feminine handwritten font.
Logo: Your business logo should work in tandem with your business name. A logo can be based on a recognizable image (like a car or a hamburger), an abstract shape (like a triangle or spiral) or text-based (such as putting your business name in a circle). Use the logo consistently throughout your marketing materials and hopefully, it will become instantly recognizable to your intended market, just as McDonalds’ golden arches or Starbucks’ mermaid are to millions of consumers worldwide.
Print quality: How professional do your marketing materials look? Some 85% of consumers in a survey by FedEx say the quality of a business’s print materials indicates the quality of its services, and 4 out of 5 small business owners say professional printing helps them stand out from the competition.
The good news: With today’s sophisticated printers, you don’t need to turn to a print shop for professional-quality printing anymore. A Xerox color printer or multifunction printer (MFP) can put out high-quality print materials faster than a print shop can deliver.
Be sure to use genuine Xerox supplies such as toner to ensure consistent colors and high-quality printing. In one independent study, 94% of bargain-brand printer cartridges produced inferior-quality print. Bargain brands also yielded 50% fewer pages than Xerox® brand, and 50% damaged the printers.
Paper quality: For printed marketing materials, paper quality also comes into play in promoting your brand identity. Poor quality paper leads to poor quality printing, which creates a negative impression of your business. A discount clothing retailer might get by with flyers printed on cheap paper, but a financial planner who wants to convey an image of success would do better using textured or heavyweight paper. Using sustainably sourced paper or paper made from recycled materials also conveys a positive brand message.
Small business expert @Rieva shares 3 steps to creating your brand’s visual identity and how to use it to promote your business
How to promote your business’s visual identity
To consistently promote your brand’s visual identity, follow these steps.
Step 1. Create a style guide
Suppose one of your employees needs to print a flyer to promote a company event this weekend. But she can’t find an existing marketing piece that fits the bill, so in a rush, she cobbles together her own. Unless your business has developed a visual identity style guide she can use, it’s very likely that flyer won’t be consistent with the rest of your marketing materials. That’s a missed opportunity to promote your brand identity; even worse, it can create confusion about what your brand stands for.
Develop a style guide with all the information and digital assets employees need to create marketing materials. This includes high-resolution logos; a list of approved fonts, typography, colors; and guidelines for photos or illustrations. For example, a sporting goods manufacturer’s marketing materials might use crisp, high-energy action shots with bright colors, while a jewelry retailer might choose dreamy, soft-focus photos in pale, soothing colors. (You can even create a library of approved photos for use.)
Step 2: Design templates
Go one step beyond the brand identity style guide to develop approved templates your employees can use for marketing and sales materials. Don’t forget to design templates for every social media site where your business has a presence. Xerox has templates you can use to create everything from event and promotional flyers to business cards, letters and direct mail. You can even design coupons and gift certificates for your customers or create a professional-looking PowerPoint presentation.
Store your templates, brand guidelines and assets in the cloud so you and your team can access them whenever you or they need to, and there’s no more excuse for mismatched marketing materials. Worried about someone messing up your approved visual branding elements? Set up permissions to restrict access to these assets only to those employees who need it.
Speaking of permissions, you can print marketing materials in color without busting your budget by using Xerox VersaLink printers with ConnectKey technology to control who can print what. For instance, you can require employees use PINs to print a color version of a particular job. This eliminates wasteful printing, such as staffers printing multiple versions of a document to proofread. Duplex printing (on both sides of the page) helps save money, too.
Step 3: Get professional help
If you’re even in doubt about making the right choices for your brand’s visual identity, such as which fonts or colors to use or how to design a marketing brochure, you can call in the pros. If you don’t have a graphic designer on staff, consider hiring a freelance designer to help or using DIY templates.
Are you looking for a printer to help you take more of your print jobs in-house? Consider the Xerox WorkCentre 6515 Color Multifunction Printer, selected by BLI as its outstanding color multifunction printer for small workgroups. It’s compact, supports cloud and mobile platforms, and lets you and your team print professional-quality color marketing materials quickly and affordably, whenever you need them.