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Visual identity – 5 tips & useful advice for the new identity

8 min. read

Read what a visual identity is, contains, and what its purpose is. If you are looking for a designer/agency, you will receive advice and tips that help you with a quotation request, design brief and assess portfolios.

Visual identity, brand profile, identity, corporate identity, are essentially the same thing. Dear children have many names. In this text, we use “visual identity” or just “identity”.

visual identity mockup
Visual identity for ST Solutions. View full profile
visual identity mockup
Visual identity for ST Solutions. View full profile

Visual identity – what is it and what function does it have and why is it important?

A visual identity contains graphic elements and rules for the appearance of a brand and can, for example, contain the colors a company should use or describe how the logo should be used in its communication. The brand can be a company, a band, an event, a campaign, an organization, etc.

The purpose of a visual identity is to visualize the soul of the brand so that the communication have visual order from the website to the printed matter. This creates recognition and higher trust which creates deeper relationships and with it comes new and satisfied customers, users or members, etc.

See an example of a visual identity

What is the content of a visual identity?

Base:‬

  • ‬Logotype
  • A color scheme
  • Fonts with different variants like for example a bold version
  • Instructions on how to use the identity – a style guide

Visual identity can also in, addition to the base, contain:

  • symbol language/icons that can be used for eg. describe services or products
  • visual elements such as patterns or parts of the logo etc.
  • imagery – a guide for the emotion in images to be used
  • language guide – that sets the tone for written communication
  • templates for presentations, word files, letterhead, etc.
  • design system where modules with combinations of identity elements can be used like lego in graphic production
icons visual identity
Example of a symbol language/icons for Boat Monitoring System. View full profile
icons visual identity
Example of a symbol language/icons for Boat Monitoring System. View full profile

The difference between brand and visual identity

A brand consists of:

  • feelings, associations, and promises
  • image, the actual perception the world has of the brand
  • the visual expression that comes from the visual identity
  • identity, a list of everything that really exists, the brands’ soul

Thus, a visual identity should not be confused with being the brand – which is quite common. Instead, the visual identity is one part of the brand and it serves as a visual package for the complete brand.

grafisk profil tips

Avoid trends

In order to create consistent communication, it is important that brand communication feels relevant and that its design feels current for several years. Therefore, the visual identity, which controls the visuals, should not be based too much on the latest trend because then there is a risk that the feeling in the message feels old as quickly as it felt fresh and also the identity will quickly look old.

How much does a visual identity cost?

Creating a new visual identity is a design process, it is a service and not a product, where each project has a different scope and the result should be unique. Therefore, it is impossible to set a general price. But here are some things that affect the price:

  • Scope
    How extensive should the identity be? Logo, fonts, templates or icons, etc. Not sure what you need? Think about the context in which the identity primarily will be used. This gives you clues to what you need, and you can also “expand” the identity in the future.
  • Is there an identity today?
    It is a complex situation when an identity already exists and therefore more work. The balance between old and new requires more analysis and time. You may not want to lose previous connections to the brand. Should the logo be renewed instead of redesigned completely or maybe the same colors should be used as before?
  • Size of the agency and level of knowledge
    How large agency do you want to be involved with during the process? A designer or smaller agency may be easier to communicate with during the process and at the same time be more cost-effective. The experience of the agency/designer and the quality of the design is also a factor influencing the price.
  • Insights on the target audience
    Is there a need for a thorough analysis in addition to design or are there already in-depth insights about the target group? You should also know that some analysis always will be needed even when insights already exist. The reason is that it’s needed to “transform” the insights to graphics that speak well the to the target group.
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Quotation request

Write a detailed description, determine what is important and be specific about the extent of visual identity. A too short description will give a large range between the lowest and the highest price and it will be difficult to make a comparison between quotations. It is like comparing a “cottage” with a “castle” and that’s something you want to avoid. Ask for a quote from the agencies/designers who have the level of knowledge, size, and references that match your expectations.

Contact us now for quotation : :
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Case with visual identities

Look at the designer’s/agency’s portfolio and get an idea of both creative ability and strategic knowledge. Does the portfolio have a certain style or is each case adapted? If they are adapted, this indicates strong analysis and strategic ability. See social media like LinkedIn to get more information about knowledge, background, and experience. Before contacting the agencies/designers you have selected, it is time to create a design brief.

See our portfolio : :

What is a design brief? 

A design brief is a document that acts as a guide throughout the design process and it will create consensus on the purpose and significance of the project. It can also provide creative inspiration and contribute to problem-solving. A design brief can be written by the agency or designer, but it is good to start writing it yourself so that it can be used in the quotation request and be finalized together with the agency/designer. The brief may have slightly different content depending on the size and process of the project:

  • Your name, name of product or service
  • Challenges that exist
  • Main competitors
  • What the identity should contain, scope
  • In what context will the identity be used?
  • Which are the target groups and what do you know about them?
  • What do you think motivates the target groups and what do you want them to feel?
  • Budget
  • Schedule, process
  • How should the profile be evaluated?
  • Who will approve the new identity?
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Who in your organization should approve the visual identity?

The end result should be presented directly to the person or persons who will approve the new identity and it is important that this is clear from the start – otherwise the process will become complicated. For example, an assistant is assigned by the Marketing Director to contact an agency and become the contact person for the commission. It is still the marketing director who will approve the new identity and if the agency presents the proposal to the assistant, who in turn shows the result to the marketing director, there is a risk that the concepts on which the identity is based will disappear along the way. The decision-making process has become ineffective and uncertain for both parties.

View the visual identity from the target groups’ perspective

The new visual identity should reflect a company’s history, values, etc. But the target group for the profile is not entirely your own organization, but usually primarily the company’s customers. However, there is often uncertainty about what target groups actually feel even though the most interesting ideas will emerge when you, together with the designer, have a deep insight into what the target group feels. An example: you like the color of blue and want it in the identity. Then you should ask yourself if it suits the target group and if you honestly cannot answer that question, then research is a good idea.

Use a company specialized in research, but with a smaller budget, you do not have to make it that complicated. Surveys can be done via forms on the website or on social media. It’s better than not doing anything at all. In this type of research, there is often uncertainty and what it come to in the end is budget. But the best insights regarding the thoughts and feelings of target groups are accomplished with deeper research and observations.

logotype and business card mockup
Logo and business card as part of visual identity for IT Etablering. View full identity
logotype and business card mockup
Logo and business card as part of visual identity for IT Etablering. View full identity
grafisk profil tips

Do you want a customized visual identity created from strong strategic analysis of your business?

WideCircle is a design agency in Stockholm, Sweden that creates crisp and clear communication. We enjoy working in close collaboration with our clients. We also make websites and graphic design for print.

Contact us for a visual identity with that golden edge that meets your customers’ feelings.

Contact us now : :

Summary

Invest in a visual identity so that the brand communicates what you stand for. The identity should be with you for several years to come so don’t rush through the process – let it take some time. Be sure to have clear goals, be realistic with your budget and have a strategy where solid design is in focus regardless of the scope of the identity.