A Visual Identity Translates the Brand Story Into Images

Graphic design
The visual identity is just one of the many elements in the overall puzzle we call a brand. It shouldn't just dictate how your company looks. It should express who you are. Our senior brand designer, Andreas, leads our customers in the right direction and helps them find an expression that tells their brand's story. But how do they translate a story in words to one in images and graphics? And why is this work so crucial?

When we talk about visual identity, we tend to emphasize the importance of looking good. Is that all there is to it? 

Andreas: Design and visual identity is not about looking good or being pretty. It’s about much more. It’s telling the right story in a way that resonates with the target group. And this is a story that goes beyond the visual. I would say that it’s more about what you radiate. Just like when you put on certain kinds of clothes. 

If your company doesn’t radiate the right thing visually, you end up speaking to the wrong group of people. The visual is just as important as the product and the communication – it’s a holistic experience.

So, when do you say that an identity succeeded? 

Andreas: Usually, as a brand, you have a product or service that you want someone to discover, experience, and eventually buy. In order to do this, you need to be able to tell the right story. It’s not about standing out or looking good/not looking good. It’s about visually saying the right thing the right way. 

"It’s not about standing out or looking good/not looking good. It’s about visually saying the right thing the right way." 

A well-thought-out visual identity gives credibility. It can make the receiver believe in the company and assure them that what the company represents is aligned with who they are as consumers. I don’t necessarily think that the local pizza place needs a huge design makeover. Quite the opposite. They should radiate something handheld and slightly off. The opposite would probably scare people away. So, design is not always the answer. You need to be strategic about it and aware of the context.

Identity designed for Potential Project

If we take a look the other way around – what happens if the visual identity is lacking? 

Andreas: To put it short: You end up telling the wrong story. You might have something you want to tell, but if the visual doesn't reflect that, well, then you will start moving in the wrong direction, speaking to the wrong group of people. In the end, it’s all about telling the right story the right way.

It sounds like a delicate work with a lot of details to consider. How do you go about this when working with brands? 

Andreas: There’re different ways to do it. But some of them is to use mood boards, look at the competitors, and research the market in which the client is present. Based on this and with the client’s words in mind, a way to get closer to a common language is to show visuals that point in different directions to emphasize the different meanings of the words expressed. 

You can say that it’s a dance between us and the clients.

In the end it’s our job to translate the descriptions and words into something visual. You can say that it’s a dance between us and the clients. The more time you spend with them, the more you get to know them, the better we understand each other.

The corporate visual identity of Nordisk Games.

When talking about visual identity, you often refer to sticking to a so-called brand guide. Why do you need that?

Andreas: A brand gives you a set of rules  – rules that help you keep a red thread through your brand. This way you make sure that the original thoughts and design are, in fact, used strategically and correctly. The brand guide makes sure that the target group meets consistency on all platforms. If this is not the case, there’s a risk that it gives a completely different experience and blurs the story. The story becomes vaguer, resulting in people believing in you less and not understanding what you’re saying. 

Of course, it’s allowed for a brand to, now and then, move out of its zone. But you have to be very aware of the rules to break them so that it doesn’t make the story fluffy.

If you want to know more about how we can help your brand connect with your members or customers, you can explore our work or get in touch at hello@granyon.com.

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