In the digital age, businesses have to work harder than ever before to grab and hold consumers’ attention. A key factor in standing out from the competition is branding and visual identity. But what exactly do these terms mean, and how can businesses create an effective visual brand identity? We sat down with Michelle Sourisseau, owner and creative director at Form Meets Function, to find out.
Branding vs. Visual Identity
While the terms branding and visual identity are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. “Branding encapsulates and is informed by the complete customer experience,” Michelle explains. “It includes everything from your logo to your customer service to, if you have a brick and mortar shop, the way it smells when you walk through the door. All of this – everything your customers interact with – is branding.”
Visual identity, on the other hand, is more specific and closer to what we often think of as branding. It includes logos, photography, typography, websites, and more. Any visual asset or design choice would be included in a brand’s visual identity.
“Branding encapsulates and is informed by the complete customer experience. It includes everything from your logo to your customer service to, if you have a brick and mortar shop, the way it smells when you walk through the door. All of this – everything your customers interact with – is branding.”
Why Visual Branding Matters
In digital marketing, a lot of brand elements are visual, especially as algorithms favour visual media like video. And their brand value goes far beyond aesthetics:
- Companies with strong branding outperform their competition by 20%
- Strong, consistently applied branding can increase revenue by up to 23%
- Brands that are consistently presented are three to four times more likely to experience brand visibility
- Companies with strong branding have a higher customer retention rate, with customers being up to 50% more likely to purchase from them again
- Strong branding can increase a company’s market share by up to 21%
- Strong branding can help companies establish themselves as industry leaders, with 91% of consumers indicating that they prefer to purchase from brands that they perceive to be leaders in their industry
Creating Effective Visual Branding
Michelle gives us the scoop on what makes for strong visual branding in the digital realm.
First, is your visual identity cohesive? Brand elements should fit together, and they should be applied consistently across all avenues of communication. “A big tip to when a company’s branding isn’t very strong is actually in how they use typography,” Michelle says, “If they’re using different typefaces on their website than their emails or their social media, it tells me they haven’t really thought their visual elements through.”
Next, are you laying out your information logically and clearly? This tip may be more specific to web, but having a consistent hierarchy of information (think: use of headers and flow of thought) is an element that can make or break a user’s experience with your brand. Whether you’re driving traffic to your website for e-commerce or lead generation, how you visually layout information should be a top point of consideration.
Finally, once cohesively applied, does your visual brand identity match the ‘genre’ of your industry? Michelle explains it like this: “A bank’s visual branding should feel like a bank, not a preschool. There’s room for creativity, but your visual identity should still match the tone of the industry you’re working in.” This helps establish trust and credibility with customers and lets them know what to expect as they interact with your company.
Branding and visual identity are critical ingredients to a company’s success, particularly in the digital age where visual media plays an increasingly important role. A strong visual identity that is consistently applied across all communication channels can boost revenue, increase customer retention, and establish a company as a leader in its industry.
We want to thank Michelle for sharing her time and expertise with us! If you want to know more about her branding and creative work, visit formmeetsfunction.ca.
A Constello digital marketing assessment gives an overview of how effectively your visual brand identity utilizes these and other aspects of branding. If you’re looking for information, clarity, and direction for your digital marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts today.
 Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands” Report
 Lucidpress’s “The State of Branding Report”
 Lucidpress’s “The State of Branding Report”
 McKinsey & Company’s “The Power of Branding” Report
 Edelman’s “2019 Trust Barometer Special Report”