In the previous posts, I wrote about my design process as well as my process when I work on a logo design. This time, I'll be talking about my design process when creating a visual identity.
Most people have a basic understanding of what a logo is. While the term 'Visual identity' may ring a bell for some, many people don't know what it stands for. It sits between a logo and branding, but how one would describe it?
Visual Identity is made of all visual representation of a brand or a person. Visual Identity is the surface of what the brand or a person is. You can see it, touch it and feel it. Identity design can be made of different elements as it is adapted to the need of the brand. However, the core elements are always required, and those are a logo, the colour palette, and typography.
I already wrote a post about my logo design process so in this article I'll skip this stage and jump straight to working on the colour palette.
1. Colour palette
Colour is an important asset for a brand. More often than not people will remember the colour of the brand better than the logo. I could talk here about a colour preference, the psychology of colours, etc. but I believe there are tons of other articles covering those topics already, and it's a never-ending debate. Instead, I'll share with you how I work with colours on identity design projects.
That's right I'll search what's out there. For two reasons: to know what is already in use and how it works as well as to find what is missing and could be used. My research is targeted to the specific industry of the client. A successful identity design project has to be distinctive. If the client is happy to go down this path we'll be working on colours that are not that popular in the industry having in mind that it has to make sense for the brand. Sometimes the desire to be completely different is not necessary and it won't work so staying true to the brand is the most important aspect in the decision-making process.
Seeing how the colour palette would work in a real-life setting is always better than seeing two colours in isolation. My main objectives for good colour combination are contrast, conversion from RGB to CMYK, feedback from the testing through audience/client.
In terms of resources, I like to use sites like Adobe Color and coolors.com
When searching for the perfect font match to go alongside the logo and the whole visual identity I look for fonts that will complement what's been established already. Something delicate and more round for a florist, more solid and modern look for a tech company and friendly chubby typeface for nursery. Style is not everything. Will the text be legible at a small size on various appliances: app, t-shirt or as a sign on a building? That's an important factor to take into consideration.
3. Brand Book
Visual Identity design will stay with the brand for some time; it might be years or decades and throughout that time several people might be involved in working with what has been designed. A brand book is a book or in the modern area a PDF document that has all the information on how to use the logo, color palette, and other design elements as well as what can't be done to them. It's useful for a brand to have a document like this. Every time a new designer or a freelancer gets to work on a design project, the client will be asked to handle a brand book. It helps to make sure all visual representations of the brand speak the same visual language which is beneficial for recognition and correct positioning of the brand, not to mention the time saved on meetings or emails.
Is there more to design identity?
Of course, there is more. The type of business plays a crucial role here. For a restaurant, Design Identity can extend to business cards, menu design, interior design, window graphics, website design, uniforms, and ad campaigns. On another hand, a Visual Identity for an Event happening once a year might be the task. This type of project can require the design identity to expand to a website, digital & print ad campaigns, promotional materials such as t-shirts, bags, badges, lanyards, etc, brochure with a schedule of talks, map guide, maybe a catalog to hand in from past events. The list can go on and on depends on the need and scale of the project.
Every design identity process will look slightly different when it comes to the creation of all requested elements. While it's easy to describe here how I'd create a business card or a website I won't do it now. To finish this article I'll share some of the rules I have in mind when working on a larger identity design system. I believe this is more beneficial to this subject.
CONCRETENESS: Have a clear brand purpose and positioning
SIMPLICITY: Focus on creating a memorable logo
EMOTIONS: Develop a well-thought colour palette that works on all appliances
FUNCTION: Design with the users in mind
STORY: Consistency is the key
UNEXPECTEDNESS: Make it scalable - a brand can grow, it's good to make sure the identity have a space to grow as well