You don’t have to be a big corporate brand to build a visual identity. In fact, if you want your business to be successful, you should definitely give some thought to crafting your visual identity. You can make or break your brand just with its visual identity.

What is visual identity?

The imagery and graphics that you use to express your brand and make it stand out from other brands is your visual identity. It covers everything your customers see, from your logo to your website.

Elements that make up a brands visual identity:

  • Colour palette

  • Font

  • Graphics

  • Iconography

  • Logo

  • Photography

  • The interior design of a store

  • Video

  • Website design

How to build a strong visual identity

1. Understand your audience

Knowing your audience is a key part of storytelling (which is what your visual identity is supposed to do). So, start by identifying a clear niche you want to appeal to. Once you’ve done this, you need to discover what appeals to the people (your audience) in this niche.

To find out what appeals to your audience, look at the demographics, dig into their habits and motivations. Review any data you have from your company social accounts or website analytics. Then, create buyer personas to gain a deeper understanding of who your ideal customers are.

Understanding what makes your audience tick will help you to craft content and messages that people will care about.

2. Have a clear purpose

Your brands’ purpose is essential for business planning and even product design. Knowing ‘why you do what you do’ helps to build an emotional connection between your brand and your consumers. This will also influence your visual identity. 

For example,

Imagine you own a local coffee shop and your brands’ purpose is to promote sustainable living. You wouldn’t use photography in your adverts depicting people using non-recyclable coffee cups. Instead, you would use imagery that shows your brand uses sustainable materials. You may even go as far as creating a video to show that your coffee beans are farmed sustainably.

Marrying up your brands’ purpose with your visual identity is essential for success.

3. Decide how you want your customers to feel

Emotions are a huge part of brand storytelling. They are what makes your brand memorable relatable. So, ask yourself “how do I want my customers to feel? Let’s stick with the sustainable coffee shop example:

As a sustainable local coffee shop, we would want our customers to feel connected to nature, like they can rely on us, balanced and calm. But how would we do this? 

First, start with colour charts. Each colour evokes a different emotion. Not only that, using a signature colour can increase brand recognition by 80%.  For the coffee shop example, you would choose colours like brown and green for your colour palette. Let these colours flow into your visual branding elements.

Remember, your visual identity is everything your customers see. So, if you’re a sustainable coffee shop owner, this includes the furniture in your shop. It makes sense to choose furniture made from sturdy sustainable materials and adorn the walls with calming artwork. You may even choose to have your baristas write a positive quote on the coffee cup of each customer.

4. Stand out from the crowd

You need to be distinctive. And, you must stand out from your competition. Start by having a look at what your competition is doing and how their visual identity looks. Then, conduct an audit on their Instagram account to determine what works and what doesn’t. Once you have a deep understanding of the competition, you can start building a memorable visual identity for your own brand.

It’s important to note that your visual identity should be consistent. Every element of your visual brand should tie together effortlessly and in no way look disjointed. This is the most effective way to capture your customers’ attention and build brand recognition. 

5. Test it out

Start the testing process by getting opinions from experienced brand managers and designers. You may even want to get the opinion of your potential customers. Ask questions like:

  • How do these designs make you feel?
  • How do these designs fit my brands’ mission?
  • What do these designs remind you of?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like these designs?

Test all your concepts and optimise the elements until they resonate with your audience.


Once you have the elements of your visual identity solidified, create a style guide and branding guidelines. This helps to maintain consistency and is an important part of branding strategy. 

Visual identity is how your customers get to know who your business is and what it represents. For help building your visual identity, get in touch.