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The 5 most common visual brand identity mistakes (and how to fix them)

Oct 27, 2022 | Visual Brand

Are you making one of these five common visual brand identity mistakes? Easily upgrade the look and feel of your visual brand by avoiding these all-too-common pitfalls.


Creating visuals for your brand, whether it’s a social media graphic, a graphic for your website, or a slide deck for your next course, can be quite a daunting task. Of course, my recommendation would be to hire it out if you can, especially if designing doesn’t light you up and/or is not in your Zone of Genius. However, that’s not a good fit for all business owners… hence, today’s post. 🙂

Knowing and understanding design doesn’t have to be your ‘thing’. But even if it’s not your jam, I’d wager that you still want (and deserve to have) professional-looking designs. Which is why we’re diving into five common visual brand mistakes and how to fix them. Because if you’re after consistent, cohesive and impactful designs, understanding how to effectively create your brand visuals will only help strengthen your overall brand experience.

 

IN THIS ARTICLE

>> What is a visual brand identity?
>> Mistake one: Blindly following the trend
>> Mistake two: Designing for you, not your ideal client
>> Mistake three: Focusing only on aesthetic
>> Mistake four: Trying to fit everything but the kitchen sink in
>> Mistake five: Forgetting the big picture

What is a visual brand identity?

 

Your brand’s visual identity are the elements that visibly represent the brand. This includes your logo, typography, color palette, website, social media graphics, email newsletters, etc., etc., Think anything and everything that can be seen and connected to the business.

The goal of your visual identity is to clearly communicate to your community who you are, what you stand for and why they should join in and stick around.

Want more guidance on your visual identity? Check out this post from Adobe’s blog.

When we think about our visual identity from the perspective of clearly communicating our brand, I hope it becomes even more apparent on the importance of having a strong, consistent and cohesive experience.

To help you get there, here are the five mistakes I often see and what next right steps you can take to stay on track.

 

Mistake one: Blindly following the latest trend versus what actually makes sense for your brand

 

I get it. You’re scrollin’ on social media and see a logo or graphic that is b-e-a-utiful. You do a little more digging into the brand and realize you could totally do that for your own business. Thus begins the rabbit hole and wasted time of chasing someone else’s dream.

Here’s the deal. A brand, from the visuals to the messaging, is tailored specifically for the business. So that beautiful brand you see? More often than not, it was created specifically for that brand. For that brand’s ideal client. For that brand’s personality. Could you imitate the same visuals? Yea, of course. But then it wouldn’t be specific to YOUR brand goals.

Following what’s on trend is fun, no arguing there. However, most of what’s on trend only makes sense for a certain type of brand.

If you want to test a trend, work something into a graphic and see how it goes. But don’t completely overhaul everything – because trends come and go, and before you know it, you could be wasting a lot of time following a trend versus creating for your right audience.

 

Mistake two: Making design decisions based solely on what YOU like rather than what makes sense for that perfect-for-you client

 

Yes, you deserve to be excited about your brand. It’s something we pride ourselves on here at Witt and Company – crafting a brand you’re actually excited to share. However, it’s not all about you(!). Shocking statement, I know.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that one of the top goals you have for your business is to create something that can support your version of success. Part of getting to that vision is reliant on others – they need to buy into your business and brand. Literally buy what you are selling.

People make purchase decisions based on who they know, like and trust. If you’ve been in business for more than 0.2 seconds, I am sure you’ve heard some version of that idea. What’s great about a visual brand is that it can help build that relationship with your audience. From the logo design to the color choices to the brand collateral – every element can be tailored to who you want to attract and engage with.

So yes, it’s important that you are excited and confident in how your visual brand identity looks and feels.

But.

But it’s also important that it is created with your right audience in mind. Because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who need to connect with and buy into your business.

 

Mistake three: Spending too much time on making it ‘look pretty’ and not enough time on the strategy

 

As business owners, it can be easy to forget (myself included!) that the graphics, documents, designs, we create are intended to serve a purpose. That workbook you want people to sign up for? Yes, it’s important that it LOOKS professional but it’s also important that it functions appropriately. The ‘Gram graphic you’ve spent the last hour on, trying to find the perfect font? Okay, cool. But is the message of the graphic clear?

Before any visual brand element is created, it should first be clear what the goal is. If you can’t answer that question, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time creating without any plan.

Additionally, when you know what the purpose and intent of said visual brand element is, you can make design decisions a lot more easily, inevitably speeding up the entire process.

Yes, having a pretty looking graphic is great. But don’t forget that the graphic’s main goal is to serve a purpose and share a message – it’s your job to make sure that message isn’t getting lost or hidden because you’re more focused on aesthetics.

 

Mistake four: Trying to fit too much into one design

 

From a messaging standpoint, it can be tempting to try and cram a lot of information into one piece of collateral. After all, you want to make sure the recipient has all the information they need. However, this is like putting in an expressway to overwhelm. Rather than reading everything, they end up reading nothing.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: what is the one idea that I want them to walk away with? This will force you to narrow in on the direction and get crystal clear on the core message.

This mistake can also refer to the design itself. You see a design trend, you want to try it out and then before you know it, you have two or three, or more, design elements that you’re trying to fit into one single piece of collateral. This can easily cause your design to look cluttered and feel overwhelming.

If you find yourself in this problem, remove all the elements from the visual brand piece and then slowly add them back in, one at a time. More often than not, you’ll see how much cleaner the overall design looks when it’s simplified and pared down.

 

Mistake five: Forgetting the ‘Big Picture’

 

When you’re focused on creating one single visual brand element, it’s easy to get lost in that one thing. It makes sense, of course, because it has the most of your attention.

What we often forget, though, is that the one element or collateral item is just one touchpoint that someone may have with your brand. There’s a whole entire experience outside of that one, single graphic/collateral/website page, etc.

Because here’s the deal: Every single element either adds-to or detracts-from your brand’s perception.

Now this doesn’t mean everything always has to look perfect (how boring and unrealistic, anyways). But instead, be mindful of the fact that whatever you create will contribute to your brand’s story.

Sometimes even just the awareness helps mitigate last-minute or rushed decisions. The goal is that you’ll make intentional choices with your visual brand identity because you know that everything contributes to the overall experience someone has with your brand.


One last thought worth repeating: This is not about perfection. I don’t believe there is such a thing. Pablo Picasso says it best: Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

Understanding the rules and/or knowing where you’re making mistakes will allow you to create with intentionality, rather than lack of understanding.

With that, happy branding!

All my best,

 

Need additional branding resources?

Five quick and easy ways to upgrade your brand visuals.

Learn our top five tips for designing better graphics.

This post walks you through what you need in place to maintain a cohesive brand experience.

Perform a quick brand audit in 4 easy steps.

Check out these five must-have homepage elements.

 

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