Use This Visual Identity Guide To Make A Splash On Your Website And Social Media

Use This Visual Identity Guide To Make A Splash On Your Website And Social Media

I want to share a story about our small business that can apply to any small business. Please listen to the audio version above for some additional insight.

Branding consistency is important. I think most people would agree on that. But a lot of times businesses get so caught up in their day to day operations that they fail to present a unified visual identity or worse, they don’t portray a strong message about the product or service they’re selling.

Today I want to talk to you about a small business that made this error. They failed to unify their branding while at the same time failing to project the message that generates revenue for them.

What business made such an egregious error?

Mine.

Yup.

We did that. Or rather failed to do that.

The Background

In September we launched this podcast. We launched it with the intention of bringing our brand of digital marketing to a new audience in the hope of educating, entertaining and stimulating new business.

When we launched the podcast, we created all kinds of visuals: social covers, podcast covers, ID3 tag images and website graphics. We produced this material quickly with the intention of iterating corrections over time.

Did we end up doing that? Nope. We just got too busy.

Then one day we got an email from a fan who said that she wanted to explore our podcast content but that we made it hard to navigate through episodes.

She was right. So we added a few new sections to this site to make finding past episodes and guests easier. We also realized something.

Our visual identity was all over the place.

We had kept our commitment to iterate over time, but we failed to see the big picture. As a result, our colors, typography and logo were a menagerie of styles and colors that may have been fine in and of themselves, but were a train wreck when exploring the zeitgeist of Web.Search.Social.

What To Do?

I’m going to present some before and afters below and share a few thoughts on strategies to help you make your own visual identity the strongest it can be.

Keep it organized. This is probably the most important part of keeping your visual house in order. Keep your artwork files organized and in one place. If you have hired a designer to produce the materials, make sure you have a copy that is stored in a location you control. Nothing throws a wrench into the process like not being able to find an asset. Have you ever heard stories of businesses being unable to print business cards because they couldn’t find their logo? That’s usually due to a lack of organization.

Make a template. When you are faced with having to create a new piece or modify an existing one, where do you start? That’s the thing that can stifle momentum. When we were working on unifying our visual identity, we decided up front that our iTunes cover was going to be our master design that would inform all other pieces. That reduced a major amount of stress because we had a direction to move in. If we didn’t decide that up front, we would have faced each piece in a vacuum and been forced to rethink each piece from scratch.

Do it all together. Lots of people design the cover for a social media property when they need it. That’s not a bad idea, but what a lot of businesses fail to do is have that cover designed in the context of their other materials. When the need for a new piece arises, pull out all of the other ones so you can use them as reference and take advantage of the opportunity to tweak them if something has changed. This will make it glaringly obvious when there are pieces that break your visual identity rules.

Own it. All of the above may be something that your business does in-house or through an outside vendor. Either way, own it. Make sure that the final product is yours and that you have access to it. Many designers will design masterpieces for you and then keep the digital files on the same computer that they let their kids use. And the cat walk on. And that they eat dinner in front of. Don’t let their disaster become your disaster. You never know when your designer is going to go out of business, move, die or spill soup onto the keyboard. Make sure you are protected.

Pay the licensing fees. There are countless stories about businesses that get sued for using photography they don’t own. These aren’t fairy tales. We’ve seen it. If you are using photos make sure you either own them or have properly licensed them. Photographers and stock houses are justifiably relentless in their efforts to protect their content. Don’t end up paying an attorney’s fees because you didn’t want to spring for that 10 bucks on a picture of a cat.

Now I invite you to take a journey through our rebranding. Below you’ll find before and afters of some of our key visual identity pieces.

Please let me know what you think.

Visual Identity Samples

iTunes

Before & After

We used the iTunes cover as our template for all the other pieces.

Visual Identity iTunes

Stitcher

Before & After

Visual Identity Stitcher

Facebook

Before & After

On our social covers we added the key missing call to action: hire us!

Visual Identity Facebook

Google Plus

Before & After

Visual Identity Google Plus

Twitter

Before & After

Visual Identity Twitter

ID3 Tags

Before & After

Our original ID3 image was the same as our podcast cover. Now we use different colors to distinguish episode types: purple for Carol Lynn and me, blue for guest episodes and orange for blog readings.

Visual Identity ID3 Tags

Podcast Page

Before & After

Visual Identity Podcast Page

Ralph M. Rivera
Hi, I'm Ralph! I'm a web developer at Rahvalor Interactive, a creative marketing services company that I founded in 1999 with my wife and business partner Carol Lynn. In January 2012 we created Web.Search.Social as a branded service offering that brings enterprise-level services to small businesses in an affordable way. I'm also founder and CTO of Podcaster's Toolbox, a SaaS platform designed to help podcasters plan, produce and promote their shows. I teach web development at Manhattan College in New York City. Carol Lynn and I are home based near the Jersey shore but we're currently location independent and traveling the country for a year, working and podcasting. I'm also trying to build a flux capacitor, but that's not going as well as the other stuff I do.
Ralph M. Rivera
Ralph M. Rivera
  • Army of Fred here. Would love to hear from Jeff Sieh on Tuesday. And, yes, that means a whole lotta “manliness” next week. So here’s the deal: Choose to do this again and please make sure it’s a “womanliness” week. It’s only fair. 😉