What does it mean to build a visual brand?

While audiovisuals are inseparable from a corporate brand, many companies still wonder whether there is such a thing as a visual brand distinct from the rest of their identity. And if so, what do they do to build and maintain it?

Any organization that has a marketing strategy needs to identify how it will use visual markers such as photography, live video, and audio, to convey its culture or even sell products and services. But this isn’t always straightforward. Your customers can be a tough audience – as anyone who has ever sized up an advertisement or store display can attest to. And while there is no one size fits all rule, effective visual branding can be summed up in just a few keywords: consistency, relatability, and functionality.

As always, a skilled and experienced audiovisual partner can go a long way in helping you create or refine a visual brand strategy.

Consider what branding truly means

Put very simply, a brand is what makes you as a company, you. It’s the same kind of identifying marker as red hair or brown eyes might be to a person. It isn’t everything customers and the public will remember about you, but it often forms a first impression that can be a strong “hook” to get them interested.

When it comes to defining a corporate brand, Harvard Business Review once wrote that visual identities like logos and wordmarks, tones of voice, audio clips and video content can remind or reinforce for consumers what a brand stands for, and the kind of work its company does.

The visual brand obviously reflects information taken in from the eyes, but ideally engages the other senses: certainly sound, but even touch or taste. Close your eyes and imagine a television ad for a new hamburger. If that ad is done just right, before they know it, the viewer finds themselves salivating over the juicy patty, pillowy bun, and generous toppings – which they can then taste or feel in their minds.

Even if your business or product doesn’t involve food, this is a good example to remember. The end goal of a visual brand is to leave a lasting impression in the viewer’s mind, to the point where even seeing brief cues of your visual identity – right down to your logo – evokes your entire brand. 

Identify the components of a visual brand

Your visual brand takes a few ingredients, regardless of what your company does:

  • Colors, ideally through a color scheme that is used consistently across a website, in printed materials – and even as the colors of a video backdrop. 
  • Fonts, which should look distinct enough from other brands or trademarks out there.
  • Forms such as shapes or materials that play an essential role in the type of business you do, or that convey a message central to the brand. 
  • Photography: It is best for a company to think beyond stock photos and engage a partner who can create high resolution images of their office spaces, team members and projects. This will not only furnish websites and materials like business cards or flyers, it also gives you a collection of photos that can be archived and brought out for social media posts or internal events. The quality of your photography, as well as details like whether a picture is done in black and white or with the use of special tones, will also set you apart.
  • Video, in many ways, engages all of the above components to bring a visual brand to life. Whether videos are produced as promotional or documentary-style, and serious or lighthearted, it will be important that your professional video partner ties together colors, fonts and forms while closely attending to lighting, sound and background. 

Steps to building out a visual brand

With all of this in place, a visual brand tends to wow its audiences by taking the following three steps:

Embrace consistency. Even subtle visual signs and cues are easily noticed, so everything in the foreground or background of what you produce needs to have the same (or as similar as possible) color palettes, hues, and textures. While you can use different fonts for large, headline text and descriptive text, make sure that these are the same and used in the approporate way across each piece of visual content you produce.

Ensure relatability. Consider the story you’re trying to tell – and the target audience you’re aiming to tell it to. What are the best ways to reach them and use visual media to build trust and convey authenticity? Remember, for example, that while you may have a video idea that draws on things like childhood memories or an early anecdote from founding the company, the content and mediums you put out must make sense to the audience and your overall business goal, rather than being too lofty or obscure.

Finally, remember functionality. This includes technical questions like making sure a photo or video is in the right frame, or nothing within the scene is accidentally cut out. It also pertains to things like length and time, or anything else that will allow your visual branding to thrive “in the real world.”

The right partner to help you tell your story

As professional visual storytellers and producers, our team at V2 Media can help advise you on the broad points of your visual branding strategy, as well as help you realize a specific vision or project. And we’re just a phone call or form away.