What Is a Visual Brand? Do I Need one?
As a business owner, you wear a lot of hats. One of your jobs is making sure you're doing everything you can to insure your business is successful.
It can be quite overwhelming.
So when you hear the term "visual branding," you may ask yourself, "What is that? Do I need it for my business?"
What is branding?
Let's zoom out a little bit, and talk about branding, before getting into the more specific visual branding.
Branding is often described as the idea of your business in the minds of your market.
Branding is the culmination of every interaction a business has with its audience. This includes design, copy, its storefront (physical or digital), its services/products, customer service, and more.
Basically anything related to your business that comes in contact with your customers is a part of your branding.
What is visual branding?
Visual branding is simply the entire visual part of your brand.
The design of everything your audience associates with your business is your visual brand. The foundation of this is your logo, color palette, font use, and imagery.
And visual branding is more than "looking good" - there are thousands of ways to look good, but not all of them will work with your business. Your business's visual brand communicates with your customers - you need to be sure it's communicating what you want it to.
what can visual branding encompass?
This is just a small list to get you thinking about what your visual brand includes - it is by no means a complete list. I'm not sure it's even possible to make a complete list - you're only limited by your imagination.
Stationary design (business cards, letterheads, envelopes, etc)
Social media graphics (profile picture, header, posted photos, etc)
Printed marketing materials (flyers, posters, coupons, brochures, etc)
Online marketing materials (ads, email marketing, etc)
Physical storefront (interior/exterior design, signage, etc)
Packaging (for physical products)
Do I need visual branding?
This is actually a misleading question, because I'm here to tell you: you already have visual branding. Even if your "logo" is just your business name in Times New Roman, you have a visual brand, and that brand is telling your clients about you, whether you want it or not.
Everyone knows that appearances play a big part in first impressions - that's why there are so many articles on how to dress for a job interview or a first date. Even past first impressions, your appearance continues to affect how people perceive and treat you.
I see a lot of small businesses with very obviously DIY-ed designs that are working against their (probably) great services and products. For example, my parents live down the street from a florist whose sign is just their business name in Comic Sans. What this tells me about their business: well, if I were to guess, they designed their sign in Microsoft Word in 5 minutes - so how I can be sure they make floral arrangements with care?
A lot of people think visual branding is a luxury for businesses with money to spare, but sticking to low-quality, DIY-ed designs can prevent your business from getting to the point where it has "money to spare."
Hopefully now you understand what visual branding is and how important it is. If you're ready to be more intentional with your visual brand, you have two options for moving forward.
Option 1: hire a designer
If you're able to work it into your budget, hire a professional. A good designer will already understand how to create a visual brand that works for you, and only communicates good things to your audience.
This will save you a lot of time and energy trying to learn how to effectively brand your business and how to use design software.
There are several price ranges for visual branding - if your budget is tight, consider just getting your logo, fonts & color scheme created. That way the foundation of your brand is created, and you have a framework to work in when creating your marketing materials.
Option 2: Do it yourself
If you absolutely have no budget to hire a designer, it's possible to create an effective visual brand on your own.
This is not something you should rush - make sure to do a lot of reading & research on what makes an effective visual brand, and familiarize yourself with whatever design software you're going to be using.
Suggested reading: Creating a Personality for Your Visual Brand