In a world where content increasingly relies on aesthetics and eye-catching graphics, it is vital for a brand to establish its own voice and visual identity. Sure, the prospect of designing creative that speaks authentically to a brand’s message can be daunting: “What’s our style?”, “How can our designs convey our personality while remaining professional?”, “How do we ensure a consistent creative tone across projects?”. The answers aren’t always simple, but a sure way to get off on the right foot (or in this case, eyes) is to consider these five things.

   
A PICTURE IS WORTH 1,000 WORDS: IS IT SAYING THE RIGHT THING?

Tone is the best place to start when deciding on a visual identity for your brand because it is one of the most influential elements of design. Break down the characteristics of your brand, consumer and messaging to identify who you are and how you speak. Are you quirky or serious, informative or experimental, trendy or classic, succinct or wordy? These decisions will dictate many of the choices you make about the visual elements of your messaging.

A FONT BY ANY OTHER NAME…MIGHT SAY TOO MUCH

Think of all the typefaces you can name: Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Comic Sans. Unless you love or study typography, these fonts may seem purely subjective. But between serifs, glyphs, widths, shape and sizes, the typographic choices that you establish for your visual identity will say a lot about your brand. There are hundreds of thousands of fonts to choose from to represent your brand, each with subtle nuances in design. Can’t decide? Play it safe and choose something simple; limit yourself to one or two typefaces that complement your brand’s tone.




Apply Consistently

Once you have these elements established, the next step is setting guidelines to apply them to the creative for consistency across platforms. It’s best to work from templates where you can lay out the colors, typography and images in one place to ensure continuity across channels, whether in a print ad, Facebook post or Twitter image - take a look at some starter templates from Canva for inspiration. You’ll want all of your design elements to be versatile enough to work for different arrangements and formats across a wide reach of platforms. Consistency is key and with a thoughtful visual identity in place, your brand will look polished, professional, relatable and engrained in your audience’s mind.




A SIGNATURE COLOR 

Color plays deep into our inner psychology. Good marketers know that people tend to associate certain colors with specific emotions and values. When establishing a visual identity for your marketing creative, identify the core colors (often already within your logo) that will come to represent your brand, and use those to establish brand familiarity.

DEFINING THE BRAND “LOOK”

To ensure consistent creative campaigns, it’s best to establish rules about the types of images you use in your creative. If you’re a food or lifestyle brand, then you likely use photography. But dig a little deeper to identify the key components of that photo that will convey your brand message: subject matter (people, locations, products), colors (bright, muted, black and white), clarity (sharp focus, blurred background) and angles (distant view, profile, overhead view). If your brand prefers to use illustrated artwork, decide rules about the technique (pencil line art, bold geometric shapes, painting) and style (comic, simple, abstract, realistic). Good branding means that decisions have been made to open up the possibilities of imagery within specific guardrails. Ideally, a consumer will begin to recognize your brand from the types of images you use in your creative, even before they see your logo in the corner.






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