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How (and Why) a Brand’s Strong Visual Identity Appeals to the Human Psyche

April 2019


While ensuring that you provide the highest-quality service possible is a key part of cultivating the right public perception, I’ve seen time and time again that crafting a strong visual identity is just as important in achieving the desired outcome.

Ultimately, your visual identity is what sells the perception you want to create for your brand. 

Whether you want to be perceived as high-tech and reliable or rugged and tough, the right marketing and branding is essential — in large part because it has a direct impact on the human psyche.

Do You See What I See?

Though there are many elements that can go into creating a brand identity, there’s no denying that we as humans are primarily visual consumers. Our brains process visuals an incredible “60,000 times faster than text,” while 90 percent of all information that gets transmitted to the brain is visual.

These visual components don’t just allow our brains to quickly consume information — they also play a crucial role in our ability to learn and recall that information for future use. Even creating a visual association for a word or phrase can make it easier to recall later on.

Needless to say, all of this makes a significant difference in your own branding efforts.

No matter what your business does, you need potential customers to remember who you are and what you do. When you have mere seconds to capture and retain someone’s attention, the ability to quickly deliver important information through a strong visual identity is crucial to driving brand awareness.

The results of the brain’s visual processing power are perhaps most easily seen in social media and other digital content. Even something as simple as including images in social media posts can yield 650 percent greater engagement than text-only content — both in grabbing your audience’s attention and helping them remember your ad.

With stats like that, the power of visual marketing is fairly obvious.

We are visual consumers. With so many different media sources fighting for our attention, the brands that stick in our minds are those that can communicate a message or identity through easy-to-consume visual cues.

Visual Identity Building Blocks

It’s one thing to understand that a strong visual identity is important — but it’s quite another to ensure that you successfully create a distinct identity for your brand.

You can’t pick colors and fonts at random. Each element that goes into the visual design must be carefully considered based on the psychological messages it sends to the audience.

Simplicity is key when creating a strong visual identity — particularly when designing logos and other branded materials. A simple design reduces the viewer’s cognitive load, making it easier to recognize your brand — and buy your products.

Color is a crucial starting point in crafting a visual identity.

As Thomas Dawson explains, “All colors create a specific frame of mind for people–it’s called a mood. Having people be in the most receptive mood is essential for their engagement with your brand. Color sets the mood of brand expression, and more importantly, creates mental associations to the meaning of your brand within the context of the world it lives in … Color is foundational to the visual identity of your brand in all its expressions and executions.”

For example, Coca-Cola is forever linked to the color red, while Pepsi, its top competitor, primarily focuses on the color blue. UPS even incorporates its primary color (brown) into its marketing slogans.

These colors cause different emotional reactions, but because they are used consistently throughout the company’s branding, we come to instantly associate certain colors with certain brands.

Fonts and other visuals will also contribute to this overall visual identity — but only if you’re consistent with it.

Fonts and graphic designs can likewise evoke different emotional responses in viewers, and as such, should be closely aligned to your selected color scheme. Even non-branded images that go on your blog or website should evoke the same emotional response you hope to achieve with your logo and other marketing materials.

Becoming A People-Pleaser

To select the right visual identity for your brand, you have to start by knowing your target audience. After all, the emotional traits that would appeal to tough, outdoorsy workers is going to be significantly different than what would appeal to a hardcore video gamer.

Start with research and get to know your target audience based on their likes and dislikes. The more you come to understand them on an emotional level, the easier it will be to select color schemes and other visual elements that elicit the desired response.

The colors and imagery that deliver fantastic results for one brand won’t necessarily do the same for a company in a different industry.

At the end of the day, your brand’s visual identity has to foster an emotional connection with your target audience by tapping into the inner psychology of the brain. By understanding the emotional attributes that best appeal to your target audience, you can then guide your visual branding efforts to build a strong psychological foundation.

By crafting a strong, consistent visual identity, you’ll be able to create a brand that sticks in the minds of your customers and drives revenue.

As you come to better understand the psychological elements of design that most appeal to your target audience, you will strengthen public perception of your brand and lay the foundation for lasting customer loyalty.


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