Visualize branding success

Watch this space, carefully

No matter how immense the budget, no matter how enormous the brains, and no matter how stupendous the gizmo—in large part, you’ll be judged by your logo,  colors, design and visuals.

And ignoring the visual aspect of a brand has proven damaging more often than you’d imagine.

How a brand looks is every bit as important as how it sounds, feels, tastes, functions and is ultimate perceived.


Looks matter—sad for society and human-to-human interactions—fantastic for brands that understand the remarkable opportunity to define and differentiate. Be the brand that dresses for the occasion, irons their clothes, cleans up well, and cares that their appearance makes the right impression. Let’s break it down.


His dog was hit by a seafoam green Volkswagen

That’s a tragic tale, but not a valid reason to eliminate the entire green palette from your branding/marketing visuals. Also, the fictious dog is fine. The point is: Put Purpose over Preference in all things branding, and in particular for this blog: the visuals.

Too often visual decisions are based on taste versus market needs, or what would actually attract customers or clients. This generally leads to not communicating or differentiating anything of interest, and then you simply become visual noise and regrettable wallpaper.

Making visual decisions grounded in the colors you like to wear, or childhood pet trauma, or a bad experience with circles, can easily doom a brand’s effectiveness.

You’re trying to resonate with a specific person by way of a look that is completely authentic to your brand professionally… not to you personally.


Clarify, “visuals”

The obvious first choice visual is your logo. This is the mark of distinction that lives on your home page, business card, letterhead, sewn on shirts and hats, painted on trucks, and so on. While an obvious first choice and the banner of your brand, your logo is by no means the end all, be all for your branding. It’s the cherry on the sundae, the star on the tree, and the feather in the cap. But first, you need to create a kick-ass sundae, tree or cap.


Key components include:

– Visual aesthetic strategically formed to optimize the tastes and positive triggers of your specific audience.

– Color and a color hierarchy of primary, secondary and often tertiary choices.

– Photography with a format, style and a point of view.

– Design graphics, like photography, with a style, purpose and point of view.

These elements are refined to form the basis needed to create patterns, textures, badges, iconography, symbols, and many other visual components beyond the logo.


Label your box

And when we say “box,” we mean “brand.” A brand without a proper, clear and accurate label will never be delivered to the recipients you intend. If you aren’t intentional about crafting how you want to be perceived, people will craft their own perception for you. That’s control you don’t want to concede. Control the perception of you.

Owning your identity is not specifically reserved for your external, public-facing audience, but also your internal, employee and stakeholder audience.

If people internally aren’t excited about what you look like, then they’re not excited about wearing the branded swag and carrying the brand flag. Thinking back to our “purpose over preference”—this doesn’t mean that each employee needs to love the color or the design or the details—it does mean they need to understand the rationale of what the color, design and details stand for. When they’re clear about the brand’s direction and audience, they’ll readily embrace the intelligently-created means to go capture that audience. (Having said all of that, around here, we do set a very high, cool-swag-that-employees-clamor-to-wear standard.)

Make certain your “box” is delivered directly and dynamically.


Processing the process

Or, “what to expect when you’re expecting visual branding.” First, expect decisiveness and honesty from your branding partner. You’ve assessed them, but they too will have observed, listened and form an idea on how to approach you as a client. How involved does this client want to be? For their own good, how involved should this client be?


If your agency presents you with 30 logos instead of three or four, it’s likely that those 30 logos lack intention, purpose, strategy, or root meaning. Then instead, it becomes purely a creative numbers game.

If creative is just being thrown at the wall left and right; you end up back in the personal preference trap. This can easily snowball into excessive rounds of revisions on a logo; again, dangerously tailoring to an individual’s preference.

Listening to objective and thoughtful voices of all of the people on the team result in productive and critical buy-in that support the brand’s strategy.


See for yourself

The visual aspect of your brand and branding should never be seen as secondary or an afterthought. More often than not, your visual presentation is the hook of your marketing, the “I need to know more” first message, and the flag that stands out from everything, and stands up for something.


Here’s looking at you,

—Team Sussner


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Brands Made Meaningful

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