Brand Cool: Visuals

by | Jul 15, 2019 | Craft Your Brand, Podcast, Season 3

When you hear the word brand, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? 

For most people it has something to do with a logo or packaging or maybe a physical products, maybe a tagline or an idea. But most of what we think of when we think of brands is something visual. 

We think of something that we can see, and this is a huge part of what makes a brand magic. 

So in the last few episodes we’ve been diving into what I call brand cool, which is that mythical magical stuff that does make a brand more magnetic than just a business. And one of the most critical pieces of that is the visual stuff that goes in. 

So when we are talking about the visual stuff that makes brands special, it breaks down into some pretty simple categories:

  • Color
  • Photography
  • Logo
  • Graphics
  • Illustrations
  • Fonts
  • Channel art

Cool brand Words pin image
Cool brand Words pin image

So we have got a lot to cover. I’m going to dive straight in, but do know that there is an awesome download. You’ll see the link below here to grab some resources and a checklist to help you work through this for your own brand. So let’s get started. 

1. Color

The first thing that we want to talk about is color. 

The reason the color is first is because it’s one of the easiest ways that humans will make perceptions and judgements about something.

So there is a huge study of the psychology of color and how color impacts our purchasing decisions and our emotions. 

But it’s a really important consideration with your brand that you look at the colors that you’re using. You pick some to use consistently and you ensure that they are aligned with the feelings that you want people to be feeling in your brand. 

We have an amazing board on our Pinterest page, that will help give you some really great color palettes to look at and choose from if you’re struggling with this in your own brand. But here’s a couple of quick notes about color.

One thing you really want to keep in mind is what the impact of that color will have immediately on how people feel about you or your business. So for example, here’s some basics.

Red, not a color you want to use in big quantities. It’s very stimulating, it’s very powerful and it’s kind of hard to look at online. So if you’re using red, use it in small pops of color instead of big backgrounds. 

Blue is a color that’s typically associated with trust. So you’ll see a lot of banks are blue. But again, we want to be looking at what’s the right blue for you? Is it slightly turquoise? Is it navy? 

Color has so many nuances and they all mean something a little different about how we’re going to react to them. 

The next little bit about color, is that it’s important that you use the same colors consistently. So you want to pick what we call a palette that you will use in your brand and you want to have more than one or two colors that you use across the board. Here’s why. If you pick two colors and say, these are my brand colors and this is all I use, your brand gets very boring. There’s not a lot of depth and it’s really hard to make two colors work in all things. 

So for example, on your website you’re going to want to have lighter tones and darker tones. You’re going to want to have things that make a really good background and things that make a really good call to action button or something really eye catching where you use maybe a brighter color, but in a much smaller quantity.

Having a full pallet to choose from is really important when you want to be able to create a really great visual experience for people in places like your website. To actually achieve a color palette,  like I said, we’ve got a great Pinterest board that can help you find some, or you can simply Google color palettes or look on Pinterest yourself to find color palettes that speak to you. Try and find ones that have a nice range from light to dark and from bright to subtle that you can use throughout your brand.

Also, this is what designers are for. So you can definitely get help with everything we’re talking about today from a great designer. And you know what? We’re not all born being artists. So if this is something you really struggle with, I definitely recommend that you get help. We’re gonna move on from color for now, even though there’s so much to say because we’ve got tons more to cover.

2. Photography

The next visual that we’re talking about is photography. And photography is as important as color because our brains perceive images so quickly. So the human brain actually perceives an image about 80,000 times faster than it does text.

So if you’re trying to get a message across, especially a feeling, you’re gonna probably want to use pictures rather than words. So the images that you’re using in and around your brand are critical. Now of course I’m biased because I am a photographer and that’s my background.

Images can go so far to make people, just like color, feel the way you want them to feel when they are interacting with your brand. And this is critical because it is those feelings and emotions that are going to drive their decision making, not the facts and figures. So those feelings, you want to make sure they’re the right ones and you want to make sure that they’re leading them towards purchase rather than turning them off or saying nothing at all.

So one of the things I have to say about photography is you want to avoid using really generic stock photos. Stock is great. I own a stock site.

If you have a pet business, definitely check out I put this together with some of the world’s best pet photographers to give you access to non-generic stock photos in the pet space cause they’re really hard to find.

But there are other resources as well that can be great for finding photos that are not either too perfect or too generic. You know, the plain white background with a random thing on it is generally not going to make anyone feel anything other than that this is a bit of a template. So you’re looking for images that have really great light, images that have great expressions from humans or animals, things that are engaging and the way you’ll know, no matter how good you are with artwork is, does it make you feel something? When you look at it, does it make you feel bright? Does it make you smile? Does it make you feel dark or depressed? These are probably similar feelings that other people will feel. So you want to make sure you’re choosing images that give the right feelings…

Have a look at:

Those are great places to get paid and free images that have a lot of really great interest, light depth, color, etc, that can actually give you all the feels instead of just looking like a boring template.

3. Logo

Next, we’re talking about logo.

Now notice this is the third thing that we’re diving into. Not the first. Your logo is not the most important part of your brand.

I know that might seem a little counter-intuitive, especially from someone who is a designer and a branding expert, but really,

You can get away with a very, very simple, straightforward logo for a really long time before you need to be something iconic like the Target or Apple icon.

So the logo is important but it’s not as important as things like color and photography because it’s not what’s going to make you the most memorable until you’re probably a bit bigger as a business or brand. So for example, you can get away with having a very simple text logo. 

Again, the website I mentioned, is a great place to go to get some templates for a logo. If you’re on a tight budget, you don’t have to hire a fancy designer to help bring your logo to life. But what is important is that you have some sort of mark or some sort of graphic that you use consistently across everything that you do to try and be a little bit more memorable.

The other thing to keep in mind about your logo…

You’re going to want a couple different versions of it. I know people can be really hesitant to using anything different ever, but you’re probably going to have a square version and a rectangle version, maybe a version with or without a tagline or with or without an icon. And it is completely okay to use different versions of your logo in different places as long as you’re using those different versions consistently.

Because sometimes they need to be a different shape or a different size or even sometimes different colors or with different background colors in order to work. So that is totally part of the deal. And again, make sure you go download the PDF that has the checklist of all these different sort of shapes and sizes that you’ll probably need to cover for things like your social media platforms, your website and print materials as well.

4. Illustrations

Now, the next thing we’re diving into is other illustrations because one of the things that’s often overlooked with brands is just how valuable it can be to have illustrations in addition to your logo. So these are things like icons that you use on your website to talk about your products or services. It can also just be little artistic touches that you can use as backgrounds. Or one of my favorites is a repeating pattern that you can use on something like a thank you note or tissue paper or places where you’re really trying to up your visual game.

5. Graphics/Icons

This is a place where hiring someone to do something bespoke for you is amazing. Again, it’s a nice to have, it’s not a must have, but it can add an incredible layer of depth and personality to your brand and what your brand is trying to say and give you some really great assets to use across all of your marketing materials.

So for example, if you have like four signature products or for signature services, having an illustration for each one of those services that you use across all of your materials can help make it more readable and instantly understandable. For people who know that this is the service we’re talking about, combine that with a color and now you’ve got a specific color and a specific icon for a particular service and you don’t have to explain because remember we perceive visual information much faster than text.

So this is another great way to break down complicated stuff. I’m in your business to make it easier for your customer to understand what you’re trying to explain.

6. Fonts

The second to the last thing I want to cover is fonts. Again, this is a place where you can go quick and dirty or you can have a designer build something really beautiful for you. Google fonts has a whole section on their website where they make suggestions about fonts that go well together. So if you’re looking for something free or cheap and cheerful, that can be a great place to start. The website can also be really, really valuable because they have some great handmade fonts by artists, but also font collections and like I said, templates where these fonts are being used so you can see which ones you like in connection with each other.

When it comes to having fonts in your business, again, as I’ve been saying throughout everything today, you want to pick the ones you use and use them consistently, which means a couple of things. One is you’re going to have to have at least one or two fonts that maybe are Google fonts or can be similar to fonts that you can use on the web. So things that you would be able to use, for example, in your email client, which is very, very limited to things like Times and Verdana and Georgia. You don’t have a lot of choice there. So you want at least one or two of the fonts that you’re using to be comparable to that so that when you write an email or you’re having to do something online, it doesn’t look wildly different than everything else you’re doing.

When it comes to picking fonts, again, you’re going to want more than one. You’re going to want three or four that you use throughout what you do because again, they have different uses.

So you’re going to want:

  1. Headline font
  2. Sub-headline font
  3. Body copy font
  4. Novelty font

1. Headline Font

Something big and bold. Sometimes this is a part of your actual wordmark or your logo. You’re going to literally use this font for the big bold headlines… on your website, on banners, on posters or ads. It’s the one that looks good big, is super legible and looks and feels like you.

2. Sub-headline Font

You’re going to want a sub headline font, something that’s a little bit smaller that you use just below that big and bold headline.

3. Body Copy Font

You’re going to want a body copy font. And this is one that you’re going to use quite often, like a sans serif or a serif,  you don’t know need to know what that is if that’s not your thing, but the idea is that this is a font that you can use for large bits of copy or large bits of text because some just aren’t very readable, so you’re probably going to want something pretty simple for that.

4. Novelty Font

I often like to say it’s great to have a novelty font. A novelty font is something a little bit fun or funky or weird, something that is maybe a script or it looks like handwriting or looks like a chalkboard that you use sparingly as appropriate to add a little bit of life to the stuff that you’re doing.

If you look at some interesting websites or if you look again at you can see how fonts like this are paired together in order to create visual interest. And again, this is one of the differentiators with a brand versus a business, is that brands understand this and leverage this to the best of their ability to make really interesting marketing materials instead of just boring ones that are easy to ignore.

7. Channel Art Graphics

The last thing that will, you’ll see on that checklist that I really want to mention is channel art.

So looking at how you’re going to apply all of these pieces in the places where your brand lives online. So this will be on your website, on your blog, on social media, places where you need to show up and have a brand presence. So in particular if you’re working with a designer, or if you want to go out and get templates, you want to look for channel artwork for all of the major places where you’re going to be marketing.

So you’ll probably want a banner for the top of your blog or maybe you want images that go down the side of your blog to draw people to different parts of your website. You’re going to need a cover image for most of your social media profiles. So for Facebook and Facebook groups, those are different sizes, YouTube and Instagram, you’re going to need to have a profile image.

So being able to consider what is going to go in these places and who is going to create that or how that’s going to look is a really important part of any sort of branding project. If you’re doing this as like a brand refresh overall and also important to think about if you’re going to be doing them yourself or getting templates, how all of these pieces fit together, the color and the photography and the fonts and your logo to build something that has the overall impact and the feeling that you’re trying to give your audience.

If this feels like a lot, and I know it is

This could be an entire course in and of itself! Don’t worry. Make sure you grab the PDF for this episode. It will help give you a complete checklist of the stuff that you need to be looking at in order to make sure that you’re sort of ticking the basic boxes when it comes to doing a brand refresh or for getting your brand a little bit more consistent across the different platforms.

If you want to have a chat about it. I love talking, branding and visuals. Come on over to our free Facebook group, and I’ll be happy to have a look at what you’re doing and we can have a chat, can send you over to that Pinterest with all of our great color palettes, etc. So come hang out with us. I would love to see you inside.

Other podcasts in this series