Your brand is the overall feeling others have of you conjured up through your storytelling, customer service and aesthetic value. In a design-driven world where our brain is capable of processing images in a blink of an eye, literally 600,00 times faster than the written word and within only 13 milliseconds of view, your visual identity is more important now than ever.

Mary Potter, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences mentions that:

“the job of the eyes is not only to get the information into the brain but to allow the brain to think about it rapidly enough to know what you should look at next. So, in general, we’re calibrating our eyes so they move around just as often as possible consistent with understanding what we’re seeing,” 

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In other words, our eyes act as a gateway to our attention, directing our gaze to the familiar and attractive whilst alerting us to danger. What does this mean for brands visual identity? That we need to become storytellers. To do this we must not only look at the messaging around our site but also imagery, logo size and colour palette. Which leads me on to….

What are the main elements of visual identity?

Well there are 6 main components of visual identity that we need to pay attention to.

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1. Logo/logotype

Your logo is your graphic image and your logotype or wordmark is your name represented visually in a fixed manner. Does this represent what you stand for? Does it bring magic to your company? Has it been designed in the most energizing way?

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2. Logo lockups

Take into consideration the communication channels you will be appearing in and what formats of your logo each requires. You are likely to need HD colour and black and white variations as well as versions for horizontal, square and circular distribution channel Apps. Social media images will require square versions, with a rectangular header. Ensure that your logo is legible at every size as well as constant across mediums. Logo sizes will range depending upon where it is placed. One logo size does not fit all.

Website and app logo sizes:

Website header sizes:
  • Full banner: 468 x 60 pixels
  • Horizontal layout
    • 250 x 150 pixels
    • 350 x 75 pixels
    • 400 x 100 pixels
  • Vertical layout:
    • 160 x 160 pixels
Standard favicon sizes
  • 16 x 16 pixels
  • 32 x 32 pixels
  • 48 x 48 pixels
Mobile app icon sizes:
  • iPhone 6S and up: 180 x 180 pixels
    • 120 x 120 pixels in Spotlight Search
    • 87 x 87 pixels in Settings
  • iPad: 152 x 152 pixels
  • Android: 192 x 192 pixels
  • Windows: 62 x 62 pixels

YouTube logo sizes:

  • Profile picture: 800 x 800 pixels
  • Thumbnail picture: 1280 x 720 pixels
  • Youtube channel cover picture: 2560 x 1440 pixels

Facebook logo sizes:

  • Profile pictures (for personal and business pages): 180 x 180 pixels
  • Cover photo: 820 x 312 pixels
  • Shared link image: 1200 x 628 pixels

Instagram logo sizes:

  • Profile picture: 110 x 110 pixels
  • Thumbnails: 161 x 161 pixels
  • Square image post: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Landscape image post: 1080 x 566 pixels
  • Portrait image post: 1080 x 1350 pixels
  • Stories: 1080 x 1920 pixels

Twitter logo sizes:

  • Profile picture: 400 x 400 pixels
  • Cover picture: 1500 x 500 pixels
  • Tweeted images: Minimum 440 x 220 pixels, Maximum 1024 x 512 pixels

LinkedIn logo sizes:

  • Profile picture: 400 x 400 pixels
  • Background picture: 1584 x 396 pixels

3. Brand Colours

What is your corporate colour palette? Perhaps it’s the two or three colours used in your logo, or perhaps they are the colours that best represent your company values.

It is important you know either the Pantone colours, CMYK and RGB or web colours for each of these. Once you have these create a mood board to identify your additional palette options, ones that complement your corporate colours.

It is commonplace to either handpick these or loosely define these as pastel, cool colours or bright and bold. Despite it sounding obvious, this step is essential to ensuring that your marketing team stays consistent within your brand identity.

A clear example of this is Starbucks. Not only have they mastered clear brand values of sustainability but they are able to show how their brand cares about inspiring nature and good spirit ‘one coffee at a time’. Through their choice of deep green tones, they set the tone for these values which are then reflected on their social media pages.

4. Best Typeface

When creating your brand guidelines ensure to include a few logo fonts. These need to make sense for your on and offline content, including corporate letters, presentations, sales decks and marketing material.

To create a unified brand identity you need to look for fonts that are complimentary throughout all of your material and ensure that everyone in your organisation has access to them.

5. Brand Style

Consistency to visual identity is key! To land a spot on the global map of great brands and company values you need to ensure that all your images have the same look and feel.

To do this we need to ensure that:

  • we are using the same colour palette throughout all of our communications
  • lightings and focus are consistent in all images,
  • we understand our target audience and use photos of people that resonate with our audience. In the case of Nivea this may be including of women of all sizes, Beneton ensures that they include people from all over the globe. What style of people represent you brand and will appear in your images?
  • photographs of people are consistent: will they be looking at the camera or not? What facial expressions will they have on their faces? what type of setting should these be set in?

No matter which images you go for, ensure that the style is aligned with your brand identity and well defined in your brand guidelines.

6. Library of graphic elements

This is my favourite. It is in these small details that a brand builds a successful identity.

I often suggest that my client’s checkout into stock image websites, like Unsplash, looking for images that they feel are in line with their brand.

If you have a graphic designer to hand or anyone with talent, ask them to create little branded elements for you to add to your images, presentations, decks, Ads, etc. This will distinguish you from the crowd. Anything from including a faded band, added texture, line and dots will work well dots.

Nike and Starbucks are two brands that really understand the psychology of images. For example, you’ll never see Nike post a photo on Instagram featuring products on a blank background. While Starbucks share user-generated content (content created by their fans) earning them goodwill.

Take away’s

Your visual identity is not just about your logo but should reflect your mood, values, beliefs and company cultre. It will help you tell a story that makes you memorable. It will differentiate you and bring your brand to life. Your audience will feel keen to connect with you, work with you and hire you.

As humans, we instantly shop from organisations that ‘feel right’. Any inconsistency will be picked up by your audience as our brains are constantly on alert mode, designed to identify anything that signals danger or intuitively run away from fake messaging’s or inconsistencies.

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