The most unusual part of my branding process is something that often stumps my clients - until they see it in practice. I'm always asked: how can you take something as abstract as brand values and turn that into a complete brand design and system? How can I create brand visuals that feel authentic to me? Here’s how.
Whenever I review a client questionnaire, the first thing I do is start looking for patterns. I’m obsessed with patterns - from visual patterns through to number patterns, date patterns, angel numbers. You name it - if it’s a pattern, I’m bound to notice it or seek it out.
But when you’re looking for patterns in your core values and brand questionnaires, the key thing to look for is feelings and emotions.
Visuals are highly emotive - they can make or break a brand, let alone a blog post. Use the wrong image to reflect a specific part of your work and you can create a whole different feel to what it is you’re trying to say. That old saying of ‘a picture speaks a 1000 words’ is absolutely correct - and I want to prove it to you.
Hop over to Unsplash and search for the word ‘emotion’.
So let's look at the results. At the time of writing in the first three results alone there’s: a young child looking a little cheeky; a bright wall and person with a whole host of happy looking balloons; and a double-exposure style photo of a woman appearing lost in her thoughts. Each of these photos are direct results of the word ‘emotion’ - but each photo illustrates a different emotion.
Every brand visual should be working in harmony to build a visual picture of your brand that reflects the feelings and emotions of your brand, and what you want your brand to say.
If one of your core values and emotions is positivity, don’t go for gloomy, blue and dark style photographs. And if one of your core values is reflection, having incredibly bright, positive photos doesn’t match that feeling either.
Now I’m a walking contradiction (and happy to be one!) so sometimes I like to mix and match. Plus, adding a fun element of surprise to your work and visuals can also be fun. But make sure you’re not going too far ‘out there’ and create visuals that work together, rather than driving your brand apart.
This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. On a practical note, one of my favourite ways to do this is to crack out a good old mind map.
Mind maps are one of my favourite techniques because (and this is one of my favourite terms I use EVER) - you can fart it all out. Just brain fart (or brain ‘dump’ - but fart sounds way more fun, let’s be honest) all of the ideas out. Don’t filter yourself, but put your core value in the middle and dump ALL THE THINGS onto the page around it. Again, don’t filter yourself here - you can always tidy up the mind map later on. What you want to do here is start building out other words you associate with the value itself. You can even add visual styles that you think might work well with your brand.
Once you’re done, start cross-checking your mind-map list with the feelings and emotions you want to evoke through your brand. Do any of these words match up with that? Do they feel like a good fit?
If they do, then start to make a list of the words.
Here are some examples below.
If you want your brand to inspire and be a positive beacon for people, you might consider having:
If you want your brand to have a calming, soothing feel, you might consider having:
And if you want your brand to reflect your active attitude and sporty nature, you might consider having:
Do you see how you can start to weave these elements in to your visual brand and style?
The key here isn’t to necessarily be ACTUALLY designing your brand at this point - you’re instead getting crystal clear on the exact things you NEED from your brand and visual brand style.
You can then use this yourself if you’re confident enough in branding your business, or you can hand it off to a designer - but you can have clarity on exactly what you brand NEEDS to evoke and look like visually, not just based off your own visual style and preferences.
And that’s what makes a difference between any old brand design, and a brand design with purpose. Because you’re designing and building the brand foundations that will help you to help achieve your goals and grow your business to a whole new level - all with clarity, confidence, and a whole lotta intention.