Well hello friends, it’s been a while. I keep saying this, but it seems that 2016 has woken up everybody’s inner entrepreneur and it’s gotten me very busy. No complaints here though, but it sure has also caused me to be absent around here and I miss writing and sharing with you on. Anyway, last week I made my official entrance on Periscope and hosted a live video series on how to visually communicate a message through your brand. It was nerve-wrecking but also so much fun and so eye opening on how much I love sharing and helping others develop their brand and have it serve them the best to communicate with their audience.
Here is a recap of the main points from the video series:
1- BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR VISION STATEMENT AND NUANCED WITH YOUR MISSION STATEMENT
Before anything I want to clarify the difference between your vision statement and you mission statement as that will help you find diversity in your visual speech and your branding strategy in general.
Simply put your vision statement is your end goal. What result you want for your brand/business at the end of the day? – to sell your product or service for example. It is also what values you are trying to communicate through your brand. Your mission statement on the other hand, represents all the steps and the journey you will take your audience through to get them to your end goal – your vision statement. That’s where you get creative and come up with fun and unique ways to convey your message. It’s a nuanced presentation of a consistent message. Everything in your missing statement should tie back to your vision statement. It should go a full circle.
Once you have those two notions figured out, you can move on to the visual fun. I would recommend making a list of mission statements and printing it out so that it’s always right in front of you when you feel clueless or overwhelmed about how to interact with your audience.
2- USE YOUR BRAND BOARD AS YOUR ARSENAL
This tip was prompted by a lead asking me why they needed to pay for the textures and patterns and all of the brand elements included in my branding packages. First of all, I want to speak up for us designers and say that we add those details to give your brand value and individuality. There’re not useless additions, they are your arsenal. They will allow you to communicate your brand’s message as they were designed specifically for your business. They’re are an all ready to go set of visual tricks, tailor made for your brand.
Your brand board and style guide are meant to help you create a feeling of familiarity, a visual home, without being redundant and repetitive. It is also a great way to stay in line with the correct aesthetics of your brand (what color goes with what, when to use a pattern or layout, etc…). The logo variations, the sub-marks, the sets of illustrations, (yes) the patterns and textures, are all provided to give you freedom and some wiggle room to diversify your visual story. Think of them as visual vocabulary. It’s more enjoyable for your audience, it’s more effective to carry your vision statement, and for yourself it facilitates the process of figuring out what to present, when and how.
The same goes with styled photos, switching the layout of your usual props, or using different props with the same layout, or sticking with a concept as for instance only using office supply products, all that shows personality and individuality while creating that visual home. People will automatically and immediately recognize and connect your posts to your brand/business. You save a lot of time trying to make them remember you and can use that extra time to lead them through your mission statement to your vision statement. Once again, it’s a great way to stay consistent yet not boring visually.
3- “I SEE YOUR TRUE COLORS, THAT’S WHY I LOVE YOU” – SINCERELY, YOUR AUDIENCE
How could we talk about visual stories and communication without talking about colors? Thank you Cyndi Lauper by the way. Although you don’t need to rely solely on your colors to express everything for your visual brand, it’s one of the easiest ways to tell a story visually and convey a specific mood. Color is the first thing that jumps out visually, before text or even what physical product is shown (shapes).
You can study color theory and psychology and find out what color triggers what emotion or what color you should use if you’re an energetic brand or rather a peaceful one. It’s a fascinating subject but not all of us have time to do that or have a branding designer to do it for us. My answer to that is go back to nature. I have mentioned this in a previous article, but I do believe nature offers all the basic color palettes you need. With the various habitats, seasons, weather, fauna and flora, etc… there’s a wide range of choice out there. You can obviously push creativity to the edge a bit and play with combinations that seem a bit “off” but that gets into the risky zone and I would advise getting a professional to help with that.
I would say when it comes to a color palette, you should have a neutral option, a reflective option (not necessarily metallics, white is reflective for example) and a dark and white combination option. That will give you more possibilities for applications. It’s not mandatory to have all those but it helps in practical situations.
4- NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE
Your visual brand should not be just a pretty face. It should be as engaging as it is appealing to the eye. We have been talking about all the ways to beautify and diversify your visual brand, but now let’s talk about using those aesthetics arguments to engage your audience. They should absolutely enjoy looking at your visual brand but also feel challenged to take actions towards your vision statement. Everything you put out there should trigger a reaction towards your vision statement. Either with graphics, photos or text you need to catch the eye and capture the attention. Once the ‘pretty’ has them looking and staring, you can then communicate that message, that vision statement, sell your product, your service, express your values, have them sign up for your mailing, purchase a ticket for your next conference, and so on.
One of my favorite brands to follow on Instagram is Sugarfina and this is why: they use ‘pretty’ so perfectly! Every post turns my sweet tooth on and at the same time makes me want to buy everything shown for props. However, beyond that it feels like there have been thoughts behind each posts which makes all the difference. It’s not just a bunch of colorful candy thrown on a white board, there’s a story, there’s a connection to the season, there’s a purpose and I’m always quite tempted. That’s good visual interaction with your audience.
Yes, you can post things on social media ‘just for fun’, but even in that case you should be showing a glimpse of your personality which is part of your brand and should be one of your mission statement – especially as solopreneurs so it’s yet another opportunity to slip in that message.
5- SIMPLICITY IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
My motto is ‘complexed simplicity’ and it’s about simply expressing a complexed concept. Not two people will perceive the same thing similarly, although they all belong in your audience and could potentially be your ideal client. There’s no need for visual riddles in your branding, things need to be represented clearly and obviously while supporting complexed concepts and values – because we all are complexed beings. As the brilliant Coco Chanel said “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”, same concept here. It’s not about minimalism either, you can be ornate yet simple. It’s about ‘not trying too hard’ in a way. Also overcomplicating things creates more chances to miss the mark. Simplicity is the best way to hit the nail on the head and create something unique and memorable which will entice your audience to get to your vision statement – full circle.
As a final note, I want you to remember that to communicate your brand’s message you need to know your why as in your values but also what you are trying to sell and why THEY should buy it. Also, remember that 50 shades of anything will get boring and tiresome even for your ideal client and that simplicity will always pay off.
REVERIE MINGLES: WHAT DO YOU FIND CHALLENGING WHEN TRYING TO INTERACT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE VISUALLY?