At Merit, we get lots of inquiries from business owners who say something like:
I need a new logo.
I need a brand refresh.
I need help with design.
One of the very first discussions we have with them involves explaining the importance of creating a comprehensive visual identity system rather than a single logo. An identity system contains a toolbox of visual elements that work together to capture a unique and recognizable look that can be applied to any platform or deliverable—business cards, signage, promotional collateral, product packaging, websites, merchandise, interior and exterior spaces, vehicle wraps, etc.
So what does a visual identity system include?
- A primary logo
- Secondary logo(s)
- Flexible design assets (patterns, icons, illustrations, etc.)
- A color system
- A typography system
- Imagery guidelines/treatments
The whole point of branding is to connect with your consumers—to attract the people who will buy your products/services. In order to do that, you need to create and maintain an appealing and authentic aesthetic that can be easily tailored to specific settings/environments (both online and in the physical world). Regardless of the type of business you run, it’s critical to invest in a visual identity system that allows you to be dynamic and keeps the bigger picture in mind. In the long-run it saves you time and money and ensures consistency—which is key to building brand awareness and facilitating company growth.
Sometimes it’s helpful to think about a visual identity system like a meal. Your primary logo is a lot like the main ingredient in a dish. (Let’s say chicken, for the sake of this example.) But every delicious and beautiful plate has complementary ingredients (vegetables, spices, starches, etc.) that contribute to its overall taste, quality and substance. Some ingredients are used less often than others or in very small amounts, of course, but are nonetheless incredibly vital. The other elements of the visual identity system (secondary logos, design assets, colors, typography, etc.) are the “complementary ingredients” in this comparison.
Earning respect, distinction, credibility and loyal customers in any industry means being proactive, intentional and strategic about shaping and upholding your appearance. The visual identity system is at the heart of successful branding work and lays the foundation for all other design projects. Just know that what you say as a company (and how you say it) is equally as important, which is why we create brand voice guidelines as well.