Visual identity: everything you need to know about this essential aspect of branding - 99designs - Deepstash
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Visual identity is what you see

Visual identity is what you see

When it comes to branding, potential customers feel that what you see is what you get. What you see is the brand's visual identity.

Visual identity is the impression you create through visible elements of your brand. Images are powerful because they speak on an emotional level. It is then important to ensure your visuals are communicating accurately.


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Visual identity

Visual identity

Visual identity is all the graphical information and is used to express who a brand is, from the logo to the interior design of a store. The visual identity comes together in a brand style guide, instructing how to represent the brand visually.

The purpose of visual identity:

  • create an emotional impression on people
  • express the nature of the brand and services or products offered
  • using consistent visuals to unite the business


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Visual identity vs. brand identity

Brand identity expresses everything that makes the brand what it is, including visual identity, non-visual elements such as brand voice, copy editing guides, mission statement, core values, etc.

Visual identity expresses who a brand is on the outside.


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The elements of visual identity

The elements of visual identity

The building blocks of a visual identity creates a cohesive meaning.

  • Graphics are drawn or designed pictures. It could be as simple as shapes or more complex, such as logos, icons, illustrations, and animations.
  • Typography is the shape or style of the text in your branding.
  • Colour is used to identify a brand through a colour scheme, usually not more than three colours, and often specific hues, shades and tints.
  • Imagery is the photography and video content, which represent the brand's personality and customers.
  • Brand assets are physical objects that contribute to a brand's visual identity.


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Graphic design and visual identity

Graphic design and visual identity

Graphic design often acts as a roadmap for keeping brand visuals consistent and aesthetically pleasing.

  • Logo and branding design is the centre of a visual identity. A logo is the symbol for a brand and informs many of the graphics, colour and typography choices.
  • Business and advertising. Companies use their visuals to reach out to customers, such as brochures, billboards, tv/magazine/banner ads, etc.
  • Digital tools are created to be used, and visual identity is used to nudge the user towards completing their task.


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How to design a visual identity

How to design a visual identity

  1. Define your brand identity, as this should guide the visuals. What is your mission statement? And core values? Who are the buyer personas? What is your communication style?
  2. Be familiar with the six elements of design.
  3. Tell a compelling story. Visuals grab attention, but stories pull people in.
  4. Aim for simplicity. Focus on one message at a time.
  5. Balance consistency with contrast. All the elements should look like it's part of the same brand.
  6. Know when to be bold and when to step back.
  7. Design for the medium. An online brand will look different from a brick-and-mortar brand.


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Visual identity can help to tell your brand's story.


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