A company’s visual identity includes all the graphical elements that are associated with it: its logo, but also its colours, symbols, fonts, etc. Anything that visually defines a brand.
Despite the importance of a clearly defined visual identity, I have found from my meetings with project holders that it is rarely their priority. After all, why should a startup waste time and money establishing and producing a proper visual identity?
Admittedly, if you don’t yet have an MVP, you do have a bit of time and leeway. If you have already produced an MVP and are ready to launch, however, here are 5 points on why you should absolutely define your visual identity first.
1. It is the first point of contact between your prospects and you
Your visual identity will serve to send a first strong signal to your prospects, before they have the chance to judge the quality of your service or product, and before they can even decipher your brandname. This first impression will have a major influence on whether they want to discover the rest of your message. What kind of signal do you want to send?
2. By designing it, you ask yourself the right questions
Your company’s visual identity should not be designed carelessly if you want it to convey the most relevant and attractive portrayal of the company. Start by asking yourself the right questions: what demographic are you targeting? What do they respond to? Which elements will attract them, or which will repel them? What do you want to convey? The answers to these questions will also help you in other aspects of your development process.
3. It conveys your concept, your values and your professionalism
Flyers, business cards, website, banners… You need supporting material to talk about your company! A strong visual identity will standardise these different formats and help you optimise your visibility. Furthermore, a professional visual identity will help you convince potential clients that your startup’s services will be of the same quality.
4. It helps you differentiate yourself from the competition
Microsoft’s window, Twitter’s bird, Starbucks’s mermaid… Certain graphical elements leave an impression on us that goes beyond a simple logo and helps us remember the brand. For a company that is just starting, it’s an incredible opportunity to separate itself from the crowd.
5. It’s a good foundation
Ah yes, don’t believe that you can just simply define your visual identity and then forget about it and work on something else! An appealing visual identity is great, but it’s only the beginning. If you are launching a website, a platform or an app as part of your services, you will also have to work on the UI and UX aspects. This is a whole other can of worms, but if you already have a well-defined visual identity, it can serve as the foundation for all these other designs.
I hope you are convinced! Before you run to the first available communications agency, remember that there are other solutions. Indeed, even a small budget can fetch you a strong and relevant visual identity. A couple of suggestions come to mind:
- Make use of your network: maybe you know a designer who can do the work at a discounted rate
- Ask Google: there are a number of websites that gather freelancers who can offer you a package for reasonable prices (99designs or Malt are just a few examples)
You might, after a certain amount of time, realise that your image no longer corresponds to your services. If this should happen, don’t panic! A rebranding is always possible, if it is well thought out, relevant and well executed (see the example of Google).
A final word of caution: even a well-implemented, strong visual identity cannot guarantee your success. Sorry, you will still have to pull up your socks and work on your product/market fit, your business model, etc. Good luck!