Branding is a buzzword, It seems to be thrown around a lot, but not really understood by everyone. It can be one of those jargon words that designers use, but not something you, as a small business owner, fully understands.
Branding encompasses a wide range of things and is the essence of your business. Even if you don’t have a visual style or identity in place, you still have a brand. You begin building that brand the second you start marketing yourself, working with clients, developing your services and packages, or creating and selling your products.
Why is branding important?
What do you want potential customers or clients to say about you and your business? What kind of impression do you want to leave?
Your brand includes a wide array of things, including your content, copy, services, products, how you talk about yourself, how others talk about you, and so on. While all of those touchpoint are important, you can’t ignore the stat below. Your brain processes visual information faster than text.
The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. -3M Corporation, 200
If your brain processes this visual information 60,000 faster than text, then your visual brand holds a lot of weight against all these other components of your brand. Your logo, images and graphics are the first thing a new customer is processing, even before your content on the website, interacting with you for the first time, or viewing your services and products.
The human brain can process an images seen for just 13 milliseconds. Breaking the previous record of 100 milliseconds. - Live Science, Tanya Lewis, 2014.
What this means for your visual brand.
Your visual style or brand is one of the most important aspects of your business. Because we are processing visual information so quickly, it is your first touchpoint with a potential client or customer. It is the first thing people see, and the first thing people use to establish trust in you.
The most common reason people don’t buy from a business is because of the lack of trust. If they don’t connect with your visuals (and the rest of your brand), you are loosing their trust and making it more difficult for them to hit that purchase button.
The visual aspect of your brand needs to be consistent with who you want to serve and the type of work you want to do. If you’re visuals aren’t aligned with your target market, then you are loosing their interest and trust.
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What makes up your visual brand
The biggest pieces of your visual brand include your logo. But this is not the only piece, and should not hold all the weight. Your visual brand also includes the following:
- Business cards
- Product images
- Product packaging
- Welcome package or any PDF design
- Website images
- Website design
- Instagram feed
- Any other visual component
Effective visual branding
Effective visual branding can be hard to master if you haven’t worked with a professional designer on your brand. When starting any kind of branding process, there are foundational pieces that should be researched before any of the design even begins.
The most important part of this foundation is defining who your ideal client, target market or audience persona is. Having a solid audience persona will not only make most of your business decisions easy, it will also define your visual style.
Once you lay out every part of this audience including things like, who they are, what they struggle with, where they hang out, what they value, what kind of home they live in, etc. It will make creating that visual style easier, last longer, and avoid making decisions based on trends.
Effective visual branding will do the following:
- Give you a cohesive look making you look polished, professional and trustworthy.
- Attract the right clients (the ones you’re excited to work with).
- Gives you credibility, making people believe in what you’re doing and saying.
- Makes you dig deeper into your ideal client allowing you to find better ways to serve them.
- Gives your audience a taste of what you’re all about.
- Branding promotes recognition and sets you apart from the competition.
How it all works together
We’ve gone over what your visual branding is, why it’s important and how to create effective branding, but how does it all work with the rest of your brand and business?
This is how your brand works as a system:
- Your brand encompasses your entire business. Every piece works together like a puzzle to create a larger picture. It works as a system.
- Your visuals represent your business through graphics, colours and images. It catches the attention of your audience while building trust and recognition.
- Your content or copy explains what you do and how you can help. It allows you to build a connection with your audience, and tell people exactly why they should work with you.
- Your services, packages and process are what you offer your audience. This continues to build rapport, trust and credibility. Your services and process also shape how people are going to talk about you when the project is done. If you’ve done a good job of delivering and building trust, then your clients will shout that from the rooftop when you’re done, referring even more people to work with you.
- Now we’ve come full circle, this new audience will see your visuals, read your copy and book your services, going through the same steps I’ve outlined above.
Your visual brand is the first touchpoint with customers and clients, and it is the first piece of information people are processing. It not only gives you a cohesive, professional and polished look, but also establishes credibility, builds trust and connection with your clients and customers.
Your visual brand is a puzzle pieces that works with the rest of your brand in a system to create an experience for your clients and customers. When all of these pieces work well together, you start to build a loyal audience, and establish trust, which will lead to more customers and clients for your business.