Worth 1,000 Words: Developing a Visual Identity for Promoting Your Work
The concept of personal branding has entered into the lexicon of even the most casual consumer thanks to transparent marketing activities of celebrities like Kim and these rest of the Kardashian family. While some argue a frosty Instagram filter and trendy hashtags are enough to develop a personal brand, this idea could not be further from the truth. Seamless branding is a huge factor in marketability, and the strategies associated with achieving it are endless and constantly evolving.
It is often said that you cannot create a brand; instead, it is the consumer that makes the brand. You can, however, guide your consumers in what they create. One often overlooked part of this process is the development of a visual identity. Often mistakenly viewed as simply a logo, a visual identity goes much farther than one simple image. A visual identity is comprehensive; it includes everything from color palettes, layouts, fonts, and measurements to the tone and style of the items you use to associate your brand with your work. Your visual identity is what sets you apart from the crowd, makes you recognizable, and supports the brand you are seeking to establish. The creation and curation of a visual identity is a never-ending process, but there are a few easy steps you can follow to promote your work.
The guide star of your visual identity is your target audience. Arguably, no marketing strategy can be effective without a clear picture at who you are trying to reach. Start by storyboarding your ideal client. List their gender, age, income, where they live, what they do, where they went to school, and who their friends are. Then dig deeper. Develop a list of their hopes, dreams, fears, and desires. The more complete the picture of your target client, the more you can craft your visual identity to appeal to that client.
Once you have a clear picture of who you are marketing to, you need to decide the mood of your visual identity. Whether it is bright and upbeat, or simple and organic, a clear vision of your mood will guide your choices. With your mood in mind, and perhaps with a logo already in place, you are ready to further develop your visual identity.
Next, you will develop a style guide that you will stick to in all your visual communications, regardless of platform, both in social media and in print. Pick two to three core colors and five to seven complementary colors to use as accents. Pick several key shapes to implement that do not detract from your logo. Fonts are extremely important, too. Choose at least two, but no more than four, fonts that convey your message and work seamlessly with your logo and other design choices. Decide on one filter to use for any photographs you will be using with your marketing materials; the filter should invoke your mood.
With this basic visual identity clearly defined, you can work to incorporate it in everything you put out about your work. Determine if it is attracting the right clients and if the message of your work is being conveyed. If not, continue tweaking. At minimum, you should revisit your visual identity every six months to see if your target market is shifting or if their interests and priorities are shifting. As with anything reliant on the tastes of consumers, nothing lasts for much longer than a single season.