How to create a visual identity for your own brand

Creating a visual identity for your brand is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Read our guide to colour palettes, typography and logo design!

How to create a visual identity for your own brand by Downtown Digital

Designing your own visual identity is a great way to make your business stand out from the crowd. But where do you start? Our guide will take you through the process, from initial planning and ideation to choosing fonts, colours and logos that represent your brand.

Visual identity is important for a business because it helps create an overall look and feel for the brand. This goes a long way to developing a strong brand image. It can be used to communicate the company's values and help customers remember the brand. A well-designed visual identity can also help a business stand out from its competitors.

You will learn about the following elements of a visual identity: 

  • Font Selection: The process of choosing one or multiple typefaces to use in your visual identity.

  • Colour Palette Development: A selection of colours that represent your brand identity.

  • Logo Design: A logo is a graphical mark, emblem, or symbol used to identify a brand, company, product, or service. 

Before you begin: 

It is very important to have a basic understanding of brand strategy and brand identity when creating your own visual identity. Read our guides to creating a successful brand strategy and developing a winning brand identity.

MTN Visual Identity Rebrand

Visual Identity Case Study: MTN has recently rebranded. The South African brand can now be identified by its new, minimalistic CI. What do you think of the new MTN look?

What makes up a brand's visual identity? 

A brand’s visual identity is made up of several different elements. These include a color palette, font selection, and a logo. You should also consider what type of message you want to send with your brand. 

Visual Identity Definition: The overall look and feel of a brand. It includes the colours, fonts, logo, and other design elements that are used in marketing and advertising materials.

Conduct your initial planning and ideation by scamping and mood boarding.

Before you can begin crafting any of your visual identity elements you need to convey your ideas and vision into a moodboard. You also need to make scamps and prototypes of what you want to do. Being able to communicate your idea becomes a lot easier with a few scamps. It also helps when getting professional assistance as you can convey your ideas in more ways than text/voice. 

Scamping Definition: Scamping is a quick, rough sketch of an idea, often used in brainstorming sessions.

Mockups Definition: Scamping is a quick, rough sketch of an idea, often used in brainstorming sessions.

Compiling a moodboard of your scamps and ideas 

Once you have an idea of what you want to say, you need to perform some initial planning and ideation. This involves sketching ideas on paper and then developing them into a cohesive whole. Mood boards are a great place to start. They allow you to quickly visualize your ideas and determine whether they work together well.

Mood board Definition: A mood board is a collection of images, colors, textures, and/or patterns that are intended to evoke or represent a certain mood or style.

Select your fonts and customise them with typographic design.

The font selection process can be exciting but also very overwhelming. There are so many fonts to look through. Finding the best logo font might not be the best font for your website. Your logo font might not work as your headings on printed documents. 

Identifying a good font family

When finding the perfect font to represent your brand you need to take into consideration how easy it is to read. A lot of the time an extremely detailed font can be a lot worse than a simple minimal font.

Look at trendy fonts in your industry. If your brand is based online then look at web fonts. If you are a store then look at the best signage fonts. If you are a restaurant, look at good fonts for a menu. You get the point, figure out your font placement before figuring out the font!

A great place to start is Google Fonts. It is Google's online font library and has hundreds of various fonts available for use and download. It is a great place to find some ideas. If the free fonts are not doing it for you then look at premium font sellers. You can purchase custom fonts if you find the perfect one.

Woolworth Minimalist Rebrand

Visual Identity Case Study: Popular retail brand Woolworths has completed a minimalistic rebrand over the last few years. It sees the brand moving towards simple, east-to-identify typographic design.

What is typographic design?

Typographic design is the art and technique of designing typefaces, arranging type, and modifying type glyphs. Type design is a highly specialized field that requires an understanding of the subtleties of both the visual and technical aspects of type. You also need specialist softwares.

Finding a good typographic designer is highly recommended if you require something that is very specialised. If you are on a budget you can look for a freelancer on Fiver or Upwork. If you want something from a more reputable source speak to a branding and logo design agency in your area. 

Select your primary colour palette with an alternate variation.

Choosing the right colours is crucial to conveying the right message with your brand. Bold colours can make a statement, while more muted tones can be more subtle. It's important to find the perfect balance that represents your brand’s identity.

Where to begin when developing your brands colour palette

To begin selecting the colours that will represent your brand you need to refer back to your ideation and scamping. Look for recurring colours in your mood boards as well. Create multiple batches/groups of colours. Once you have these, consider every batch carefully. 

Keep in mind who your audience is. What will they resonate with? What would they most likely want to see and purchase? Also keep in mind who your competitors are. What are their colours? Do you want to look similar or different? Look at where the colours will be placed. Is your business online or physical? All these factors should be considered when selecting the perfect colour palette for your brand!

Websites that help generate the perfect colour combinations 

Two really cool websites we have used before are Coolors and Color Hunt. They both allow you to browse masses of user and randomly generated colour variations to get some inspiration for what works with your brand identity. Both Coolors and Color Hunt start off free to use so you don't have to worry about breaking the bank! Check them both out and you will be creating beautiful brand colour palettes in no time!

FNB Visual Identity Rebranding 2022

Visual Identity Case Study: First National Bank have recently (2022) rebranded and moved towards a more mimimalist visual identity. This has caused fierce debate in South Africa with users not sure about these changes, however internationally, the common rebranding theme is to go minimal. So in FNB's case, time will have to tell!

Design a logo that communicates your brand identity.

Once you've selected your colors and fonts, it's time to design a logo. A good logo should be memorable and easy to recognize. It should also communicate who you are and what you do. 

Different types of logos

As you know, there are all sorts of different logos in this day and age. Four common types of logos are: wordmarks, lettermarks, brandmarks, and combination marks. They make use of fonts and/or symbols to communicate a brand's identity to its desired audience. Here is a bit more information about the four most common types of logos you see in your world today:

A wordmark logo is a logo that’s made up of whole words. This logotype is typography based meaning it is made up of only text. Wordmarks are generally a representation of the names of a brand or business. An example of a wordmark logo is Google’s logo.

A lettermark logo is a logo that’s made up of letters. This logotype is typography-based and designed based on the initials of the brand or business. Lettermarks, like wordmarks, are text only logos. A good example of a lettermark logo is clothing retailer H&M’s logo. 

A brandmark logo is a logo that consists of a symbol or icon that is used to represent a company or brand. This type of logo is often used by companies that have a strong brand identity. A popular brand that uses a brandmark logo well is Apple.

A combination mark logo is a logo that combines brandmark logos with a lettermark or wordmark logo. It generally includes the company name in a stylised typeface and an accompanying icon. A lot of the time these are also used separately when necessary. Adidas is a popular brand that uses this type of logo.


Software to assist in creating a logo yourself.

There are multiple websites and softwares out there to assist you in creating your own logo. Some of these are even free to use! The level of expertise also varies so make sure you know what you are doing before you get started!

The most well known free design app out there right now is Canva. It is also extremely easy to use and user friendly! Canva is a startup that assists users with everything from design and layout to content creation and digital marketing! It is definitely one to check out for people who are new to design.

The most common and powerful software for logo design is Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is an industry standard software and sits in most professional logo designers toolbox. Illustrator is a fantastic software to use when designing your logo however it does require a significant amount of knowledge, practice and skill to operate. Another factor to consider is the price. It’s currently only available on subscription and goes for $20.99 a month.

Final thoughts on designing your own visual brand identity

All of the most loved and recognised brands have a carefully thought out and designed visual identity. They have a recognisable logo, a strong font selection and an extremely well throughout colour palette that all speak to their desired target market. The visual identity needs to communicate the entire brand identity blueprint to the public visually. It is important to find references to what you aim to do when creating your own visual identity.

Another important point to remember is the following: Never deviate from your visual identity! This is a very important point. The point of a brand’s visual identity is for the brand to be visually identifiable. This means once the identity has been finalized, the brand needs to stick to it (unless something is drastically wrong).

We hope you learned a lot about creating your own visual identity! If you liked this article please share it! 

More Business Resources:

Downtown Digital Branding & Visual Identity Services

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