Post by
Nasir Uddin
February 12, 2024
Read time
5 min

Imagine this: you're an artist, and you've just been given a set of brushes and colors. Your job is to create a masterpiece, but here's the catch - every other artist in the room has the same exact tools. So, how do you stand out? How do you make your art unique? The answer lies in your story. It's the story you tell through your art that sets you apart from the rest.

The same can be said for startups and their visual branding. Sure, they may all use the same old elements, but it's the concept behind it that makes them shine. It's what sets them apart and makes them stand out in a crowded marketplace. It's the heart and soul of their brand that captures the attention and loyalty of their audience.

But just like an artist needs to think beyond their tools to create a masterpiece, startups need to think beyond their visual identity to create a memorable brand experience. 

This is where visual branding comes in, and understanding the difference between visual identity and visual branding is key to developing a successful branding strategy.

What Is the Difference Between “Visual Identity” and  “Visual Branding”?

A company's or brand's visual representations, such as its logo, color scheme, typography, and images, are referred to as its visual identity. Together, these visual components produce an identifiable and consistent visual image of the brand. A powerful visual identity aids in brand awareness and creates a unified appearance across all platforms and touchpoints.

Visual branding, on the other hand, refers to the broader strategy and approach of using visual elements to communicate the brand's values, personality, and positioning. Visual branding encompasses not only the visual identity but also the overall visual language and design aesthetic used in marketing materials, packaging, advertising, and other brand communications.

Netflix is a great example of how visual branding can go beyond just the visual identity of a brand. While the Netflix logo and color scheme are easily recognizable, the company's marketing team has gone one step further by developing niche social media accounts for specific audiences, like @contodo, @strongblacklead, and @netflixisajoke. 

By creating these separate accounts, Netflix is able to tailor its messaging and visual content to each audience's interests, cultural background, and language. This helps to create a stronger connection with viewers and foster a sense of community around the brand.

"Your brand is not what you sell, it's not what you make, it's not your logo - your brand is how people feel about you." - Martyn Etherington, former CMO at Mitel. 

It's common for people to mix up between visual elements and visual branding. Even though they are both sides of the same coin, there are some differences between them. But if a business only focuses on its visual identity, it risks losing out on the chance to connect with its audience in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Because, let's face it, branding isn't just about the visuals. It's about the story behind the brand. It's the emotions it evokes and the connection it makes with its audience. And that's what sets successful startups apart from the rest. They don't just use the same old brushes and colors - they use their own unique style to tell their story and create a masterpiece.

Speaking of stories, if you're eager to craft a winning brand story for your startup, you must read this article! “The Root of Branding: Why Compelling Storytelling is Key for Startup Success.” 

Now, let's get back to the article! Before utilizing the visual elements, what is the first thing you must decide? 

The mission, vision, and values of your start-up. 

It is because Your start-up's mission, vision, and values are the foundational elements that shape the design of your visual branding. By defining these elements first, you can ensure that your visual components - such as logos, colors, and imagery - effectively communicate your brand message and values to your audience. 

Logo- The Trademark That Speaks Your Brand Story

Take a cue from Amazon's logo designer, who brilliantly wove the company's theme into the logo. By connecting the arrow from 'A' to 'Z,' the logo conveyed a powerful message - that you can find everything you need on Amazon! This clever design choice not only made the logo visually appealing but also reinforced the brand's mission in a memorable way.

Or, if you look closely at the logo of Unilever, you'll see that the letter 'U' isn't just a plain old letter. It's actually made up of 25 tiny images, each symbolizing a different area that the company works in. This inventive use of visual elements not only makes the logo more appealing to the eye but also serves to subtly but effectively reinforce the brand's expansive and varied mission.

How Can You Use Logos to Increase Brand Recognition?

To boost your brand visibility, it's not enough to craft a unique logo. You need to make it familiar to your audience. 

  • Consider sponsoring or partnering with other events, organizations, or businesses. By doing so, you'll be able to ensure that your logo is prominently displayed in all promotional materials, including flyers, banners, and signage. 
  • What about freebies? Your logo on promotional items such as t-shirts, mugs, keychains, and other giveaways can increase brand visibility and loyalty. When someone wears or uses your branded merchandise, they are promoting your brand.
  • Reinforce your brand identity and increase recognition by using your logo in videos, infographics, and blog posts. It's a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
  •  If you sell physical products, using your logo on your product packaging and labeling is a no-brainer. But, if your packaging is eye-catching and memorable, customers are more likely to share photos of it on social media, further increasing brand visibility.
  • Incorporate your branding into branded material like videos, infographics, and blog entries. This will reinforce your brand identity and boost brand recognition across several media. It's an outstanding way to position oneself as an industry insider and gain the trust of your audience.
  • Partner with events, organizations, or businesses to display your logo on flyers, banners, and signage. More eyes on your logo equals more brand recognition.
  • Last but not least, by adding your logo to your email signature, you can give your emails a professional touch and increase brand visibility with every message you send.

Typography - The Art of Visual Communication

The reason typography is called the art of visual communication is because it goes beyond just the letters and words on a page. It's about using those elements to create a visual language that communicates your brand's message and personality to your audience. 

For example, has it ever happened to you?  you entered a coffee shop, and your eyes were immediately drawn to the menu board because of the sleek typeface and enticing layout. That's no coincidence! Consider the renowned American brand Dunkin' Donuts as a prime example. 

Their logo, which features pink and orange colors and big, rounded letters, is instantly recognizable across the United States. You can tell from the logo and the font that you'll be receiving a good cup of coffee and an appetizing croissant. 

But just as I said, typography isn't just limited to logos. 


In How Many Ways Can We Use Typography to Establish Visual Branding?

  • Use consistent typography throughout your website's pages to give it a polished, eye-catching appearance. Pick a font that fits the personality of your brand and is simple to read.
  • Create aesthetically appealing and memorable social media content by using typography. Use legible fonts that match the personality of your brand, and experiment with different sizes, colors, and styles.
  • For a unified brand identity, use a similar font throughout all of your marketing materials. Choose a typeface that is simple to read and matches the personality of your brand, then play around with different sizes, colors, and styles.
  • Create a distinct visual brand for your items by utilizing typography. Choose a typeface that is easy to read and reflects the personality of your company, and experiment with different sizes, colors, and styles.
  • To achieve a professional and unified design, use consistent font throughout your email newsletters. Choose a typeface that is easy to read and reflects the personality of your company, and experiment with different sizes, colors, and styles.
  • To create a professional and polished appearance, use consistent font throughout your presentation slides. Choose a typeface that is easy to read and reflects the personality of your company, and experiment with different sizes, colors, and styles.
  • To give your video content a polished and interesting appearance, use typography in the titles and subtitles. Choose a typeface that is simple to read and matches the personality of your brand, then play around with different sizes, colors, and styles.
  • To generate memorable and powerful advertisements, use typography in your marketing. To make your ads stand out, use a typeface that is simple to read and matches the essence of your company. You can also experiment with different font sizes, colors, and styles.
  • Use consistent font on your wayfinding and signage to provide your customers with a seamless brand experience. To make your signs stand out, experiment with different sizes, colors, and font styles while using an easy-to-read typeface that matches the personality of your brand.

Color - The Enhancer of Your Brand Personality

Did you know that colors have a powerful effect on our emotions? By strategically choosing the right colors, you can create a certain mood or feeling that reflects the values and personality of your brand. It's important to use these colors consistently across all your branding materials to build recognition and trust with your audience.

But colors aren't just about emotions and branding. They can also aid with memory! When used in a way that creates contrast and visual interest, colors are more likely to be noticed and remembered. That's why many businesses use bright, bold, and contrasting colors in their logos and marketing materials to make a lasting visual impact. So, if you want your brand to be remembered, it's time to start thinking about your color choices. 

How Can You Make Your Brand Colors Stick To Audiences’ Minds?

  • Color can be used to make an appealing and visually appealing website design. Select colors for your website that are consistent with your brand identity.
  • Color will help your logo stand out and establish a memorable brand identity. Colors should express the personality and beliefs of your brand.
  • Color can be used to create eye-catching product designs that will appeal to your target audience. Consider color psychology while selecting colors that will appeal to your customers.
  • Color may be used to develop effective advertising and marketing materials that will attract the attention of your target audience. To add visual appeal, choose contrasting colors or bright, vibrant colors.
  • Make aesthetically appealing social media graphics with color to stand out in your audience's feeds. Choose colors that are consistent with your brand identity and use them throughout all of your social media platforms.
  • Color can be used to produce appealing and distinctive packaging designs that will draw the attention of buyers. Colors should reflect your brand's personality and beliefs, and you should think about employing color psychology to appeal to your target audience.
  • Create visually attractive quotes by using bright, vibrant colors that stick out in social media feeds. Consider employing color contrast to make your writing easier to read or complementary colors to create a more harmonious design.
  • Color can be used to produce captivating video material that will keep your audience's attention. To improve the aesthetic attractiveness of your videos, consider employing color grading or color correction.
  • Make your presentations and reports more interesting and aesthetically appealing by using color. Choose colors that are consistent with your brand identity and employ them across your materials.
  • Create visually beautiful email marketing campaigns using color to stand out in your audience's inbox. Consider utilizing contrasting hues or bright, lively colors to draw attention to your calls to action.

Website- The Digital Gateway to Your Brand

In the modern business world, websites have become essential tools for achieving success and building brand value. By leveraging the power of your website to make your audience feel things, you can create a lasting bond that sets you apart from your competition.  Because websites are not just places for customers to learn about your products and services; they're platforms for creating an emotional connection with your audience.

"Your website is the window to your business. Keep it fresh, keep it exciting, and keep it relevant, or risk being left behind." - Kate Summers, Owner of KSA Marketing.

When it comes to creating an exciting website, many people make the mistake of stuffing it with images, videos, and walls of text. But this approach can backfire, leaving visitors feeling overwhelmed and suffocated. Instead, focus on crafting a compelling brand story that speaks directly to your audience.

How Can You Effectively Tell Your Start-up Story on Your Website?

  • Speak directly to your audience: Imagine you're sitting down for a cup of coffee with your ideal customer. How would you talk to them? What language and tone would you use? Use this same approach on your website to make a connection with your audience.
  • Keep it concise: Nobody likes to read long, rambling paragraphs on a website. Keep your language clear and concise to communicate your message in a way that's easy to understand.
  • Use taglines: Your tagline is like a handshake - it's the first thing your visitors will see and can set the tone for your entire website. Use a memorable tagline to make a strong first impression and communicate your brand's message.
  • Tell a story: People love stories - they're memorable, engaging, and can create an emotional connection with your audience. Use storytelling techniques to share your brand's journey, highlight the impact of your products or services, or communicate your values and mission.
  • Use metaphors: Metaphors can be a powerful way to communicate complex ideas in a way that's more approachable and memorable. Use metaphors that your audience can relate to and that reinforce your brand's message.
  • Be persuasive: Nobody likes a pushy salesperson, but there are ways to be persuasive without being overbearing. Highlight the benefits of your products or services and address any objections your audience may have in a way that's respectful and informative.
  • Use social proof: People are more likely to trust and buy from a brand that others have endorsed. Use customer testimonials, reviews, or case studies to provide social proof and demonstrate the value of your products or services. This can help build trust and credibility with your audience.

Social Media Platforms-  The Storytelling Powerhouse for Your Brand

 If I need to provide an example of how social media platforms are literally the powerhouse for establishing your brand. The first name that pops up in my brain is Airbnb. 

Airbnb has been actively utilizing social media to reinforce its brand. Using content created by users is a powerful tool. It has been successful in showcasing the unique and genuine experiences that can be had by travelers using its platform since it encourages users to post their experiences on social media and then features this content on its own social media platforms.

Airbnb has also leveraged social media to spread its brand story and promote its core principles, which include openness, sustainability, and a focus on the local community. The brand has supported ideas of acceptance and inclusivity through efforts such as the #WeAccept campaign, which was created in reaction to President Trump's travel restriction.

Airbnb has also taken to social media in an effort to connect with its clientele and deliver more individualized service. The organization has a social media crew whose sole purpose is to reply to clients in real time, helping them and addressing their questions.

By maintaining a social media presence and employing a dedicated customer support team, Airbnb can guarantee that its guests will always feel heard and appreciated.

Spice Up Your Platforms with Eye-Catching Visuals

Picture this: you're scrolling through your Instagram feed, and suddenly, you come across a post from your favorite brand. The post features a beautiful, eye-catching image that immediately grabs your attention. You can't help but stop and take a closer look. This is the power of eye-catching visuals on social media.

Using eye-catching visuals on your social media platforms is a great way to spice up your brand and capture the attention of potential customers. But it's not just about making your brand look pretty. Eye-catching visuals can also help to communicate your brand's message and values. For example, if your brand values sustainability, you can use visuals to showcase your eco-friendly products or initiatives.

Enjoy Using GIFs and Memes

Use GIFs or memes to liven up your content if videos aren't what you're after.

Memes will make your target audience chuckle, while animated GIFs will bring attention to certain portions of your material. These visual aids are entertaining and can help you with your content marketing strategy. 

Some of the major brands that actively use meme marketing include Netflix, Zomato, Brand Factory, and Tinder. Memes assist brands in breaking the ice by allowing consumers to see their sense of humor and making their content accessible enough to share.

Use Visual Quotes

Sharing relatable quotes that hit home with your target audience is one of the best methods to engage them. Not only is it an easy way to reach similar audiences with minimal effort, but it's also a proven method to increase engagement and drive traffic to your brand.

To leverage this power, you can incorporate famous and meaningful quotes into your visual branding. Sharing visual quotes on social networks like Instagram is an excellent way to put out fresh content, even when you're running low on ideas. And by using Instagram tools to optimize sharing when your audience is most active, you'll maximize your reach and engagement.

But don't stop there! To truly stand out, incorporate your brand color, typography, and logo into these visual elements. This will increase brand recognition and reinforce your brand identity with each share, resulting in higher brand recall and awareness.

Optimizing Your Branding

It's necessary to tailor your brand's marketing materials to each channel in order to convey your message properly. The message of your brand should be easily understood and aesthetically pleasing on any platform, including mobile phones, whether it be your website, social network profiles, or printed materials.

Doing so will help you tell the same consistent message about your brand everywhere it appears. In the long run, this will help you earn the trust and respect of your target market by making your brand instantly identifiable to them. As such, as part of your overall brand strategy, you shouldn't ignore the significance of optimizing your branding for diverse channels.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, what distinguishes successful startups from their rivals is the power of storytelling; the visual components are only the means by which that story is brought to life. Startups may develop a distinctive and memorable brand experience that connects with their audience by knowing the distinction between visual identity and branding. 

Therefore, don't just concentrate on developing a visual identity; consider how to use branding elements to tell your story effectively. By doing this, you may build a solid bond with your audience and distinguish yourself in a crowded market. To create something genuinely amazing, it's not just about the tools you have; it's also about how you utilize them.

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Nasir Uddin
CEO at Musemind
Nasir Uddin, Co-Founder and CEO at Musemind, brings over a decade of experience in dynamic UX design. With a background at prestigious companies like Panther, On Deck, Microsoft, and Motley Fool. His leadership has transformed Musemind into a trusted destination for comprehensive product design solutions.
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