A friend told me the story of how he had to send over 300 applications before getting a job. To do this, he had to visit hundreds of Nigerian websites to get their email addresses. One major thing he learned from this experience was that most Nigerian businesses don’t have websites or their websites were poorly designed.
For me, I’d like to add that many businesses care little about their brand and by extension, visual identity. To understand more about this, we’ll first get to know what Visual Brand Identity is.
Visual Brand Identity refers to the physical aspects that help define a brand. This is more or less the part of a brand that people see before they get to experience it. For example, there’s a font style you’ll see that immediately reminds you of an eatery, tech product, or movie (like the Spiderman font). This tells your story before customers get the full brand experience.
There are some elements that combine to form your visual brand identity. 99designs does a great job identifying some of them such as:
- Color Pallette
- Physical brand assets
Wikipedia defines Graphics as “visual images or designs on some surface…to inform, illustrate, or entertain”. In the context of visual identity, this refers to things such as logos, illustrations, icons, etc. It is easy to note Nigerian brands that invest time and effort in their digital marketing efforts by the difference in the aesthetics of their graphics and general visual brand identity.
A quick dash to websites of various Nigerian businesses tells a lot. It is not out-of-place to see watermarked, poor-quality graphic works on websites and promotional materials.
Typography refers mainly to the font style/design. There are countless font styles available today and you want to use one that matches your brand. If you’re worried about where to start from, we’ve done some digging for you – check out this beautiful infographics-laden post by Sydney based design agency on Typography in Branding.
What brand easily comes to mind when you see a big yellow billboard on that pedestrian bridge? I’m guessing you’ll think of MTN. Every brand has its suite of colours used across its brand. Of course, they’ll be a major colour, but you’ll notice different hues, shades, and supporting colours when you look more closely. Colours, graphics, and fonts come together to tell the brand story in such an interesting way. They form the building block of flyers, brochures, ID cards, web pages for businesses.
Some businesses start out with a colour in mind and stick to it. Choosing to revamp your visual identity may mean slightly tweaking your colour. Here’s a handy article from Wix on how to pick a colour for your brand.
Imagine you visit Jumia foods and all the web content is pure text. The first question will be “where’s the food?”. Have you also noticed how stand up banners, wallpapers and billboards of Nigerian banks have beautiful images? These businesses are people-facing and what better way to convey this than use actual human photos/videos in their advertisements?
Imagery cuts across photos and video content that brands use to tell their story. It’s easier to captivate eyes with stunning images/videos than never-ending strings of text. Also, the quality of the content can affect the overall brand perception. No one would want to buy shirts from a website that has awful product photos. Getting high-quality relevant photos/videos for your brand may require investing in the right equipment or outsourcing. Here’s a handy list of free and paid stock photos websites to help you.
Physical brand assets
About four years ago, a popular Nigerian bank was building a new branch in a new neighbourhood. You’ll be amazed that passers-by were able to tell the bank name before the building was even completed. All they had to do was look at the yet-to-be-completed structure.
Fast food and supermarket chains also share this common theme. This is because they tend to have similar building designs. For purely online businesses, physical brand assets may not be important, however, for businesses with multiple brick and mortar assets, it is important to consider. Physical brand assets may also stretch into clothing, stationary, etc.
Tips for setting up your visual brand identity
It doesn’t matter if you own a personal blog, run a pastry outfit off Instagram, or build the next big tech product, here are some tips to help you build your visual brand identity.
1. Define what your brand is all about
What is your brand about? What do you do or what message do you want to convey to your prospects? Take some time to think about this. The message you intend to send may tell you your colour or font choice. For example, a high-brow professional tax service may want to avoid playful fonts like comic sans. Your brand identity can help you pick a colour scheme to use across your visual branding using a tool such as this colour maker.
2. Get creative
If you’re a small business you may consider designing your visual brand identity yourself. There are tons of tools to help you with this, starting with the very popular Canva. I have this friend that uses a consistent font type and colour across all her Instagram cake ads. It’s easy for her customers to associate her brand with this style.
3. Simplicity is key
Try not to overcomplicate things. Don’t be like those websites that have text and graphics jumbled all over the place. Keep it simple.
4. Hire professionals
Sometimes, simplicity comes at a cost. Creating a resonating visual identity may involve getting the experts who have dedicated time to the art. You may opt for hiring freelancers which comes with its pros and cons. Also depending on your budget, you may have a creative director or team in your workforce.
You may also consider working with an agency. At Idigify Consulting, our stellar team has helped some of Nigeria’s biggest brands build captivating visual brand identities. We examine your brand and design a befitting visual across both your online and offline channels.