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Wow, your brand is a character: An Edgar Allan discussion on visual identity and brand strategy

Edgar Allan | Blog | Creating a Visual Identity and Brand Strategy

Edgar Allan Brand Strategist Kendra Rainey recently pulled up a Zoom window on EA Live to chat with Brand Designer Courtney Garvin about brand identity, brand strategy, the basics of visual identity, and how to bring it all to life:

“Kendra and I have worked together for years creating great brands,” says Garvin. “So sharing some insights and things that I've kind of paid attention to over the years, I've kind of thought about it in terms of two key takeaways: The idea of intent and then the idea of the environment. If you remember nothing else, remember this idea of what makes a great brand.” 

One thing that came out of the larger conversation breaking down the components of visual identity is the idea that the two things you should consider while building brands are environment and intent. Environment is about where and among what other entities a brand will exist, while intent implies the brand behaving in a specific way — and that requires understanding your brand as a character. 

Think of your brand as a character in a story

Courtney goes on to say that what she means by when she talks about intent is that she often finds herself asking, “What're the motivations of the brand? Its aspirations? How does it act and react?” 

“A lot of times in brands, we talk about archetypes,” says Garvin. “Some of you may be familiar with that; it goes back to Carl Jung and psychoanalysis. But those iconic patterns of behavior are constructs — they’re a little static. Where they come to life is in literature and stories — in characters. And if you think about it, brands are characters too; with quirks and specific ways of being. And so it's that essential question of what does that brand want to be? I kind of think of it as a deep philosophical question; and that's the first phase of creating a good brand — deciding what that character it’s going to embody...”

Part of this means grounding your character in the reality of the brand. Here, Garvin's advice is simple: To thine own self be true. Don’t squeeze your brand into a box that it does not fit in. If your brand isn’t edgy, then Xena the Warrior Princess would not be the right kind of character to have in mind. If it’s upbeat and eternally optimistic, a personality like Wednesday Addams’ doesn’t fit the bill. You get the point. Base your brand in truth, pick a skin that fits, and then you can start asking the bigger questions to refine your brand’s identity:

  • What is at the core of what this company or product is about?
  • What exactly is this brand selling? (Hint: it’s often not just the physical thing your company makes)
  • What is the reality of my brand? (What are its constraints? What is it not?)
  • What are the aspirations of my brand?

“You don’t want to promise something you can’t deliver on, but on the same point defining an identity should always be about the aspiration of a brand,” says Garvin. “A brand is never about reality, it’s more about asking what the world could be like in the ideal situation. What I like about the whole exercise is that a great identity is typically an optimistic take on the business or the world.” 

Where is that character going to live?

“Next is this idea of the environment. Where is this brand or this character going to live? I think a lot of times people get so focused on what the brand character is that they forget and lose sight of that the brand has to live in the world of who your audience is and who your customers or consumers are. What is the reality of the world that your brand is going to exist in, both now and in the future.”

Trying to future-proof your brand as much as possible should also be considered when looking at the world your brand exists in. 

Once you have decided who your brand is as a character, what the intent of your brand and the environment you want it to create, it’s time to start defining the more designerly parts of a brand: color, typography, imagery, and layout.  

Watch the full clip about branding as character-building from Kendra and Courtney’s conversation around visual identity taken from an EA Live video:

Are you interested in developing the character of your brand and the environment it lives in through expert brand strategy and story creation? Take a look at our Services page to see the wide range of products and services Edgar Allan offers our clients as a brand-to-build Webflow agency.

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Bonus: Brand Building Basics

What is visual identity?

Visual identity is an essential aspect of web design. It involves the creation of a unique look and feel for a website, which is achieved through the use of colors, typography, imagery, and other design elements. A strong visual identity not only helps to make a website look professional and attractive, but it also helps to convey the brand’s personality and values, making it more memorable to visitors.

Key elements of visual identity as a brand

Other elements that need to be considered when creating a visual identity include:

Color in brand identity 

One of the key elements of visual identity is color. Color is a powerful tool that can be used to evoke emotions, create contrast, and convey a brand’s personality. When choosing colors for a website, it’s important to consider how they will look on different devices and how they will complement the other design elements. It’s also important to choose colors that are consistent with the brand’s overall visual identity, as this will help to create a cohesive look and feel.

  1. Typography 

Another important aspect of visual identity is typography. Typography refers to the use of fonts and typefaces on a website. The choice of font can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of a website, and it’s important to choose a font that is easy to read and that fits with the brand’s visual identity. There are many different types of fonts available, from sans-serif to serif, and it’s important to choose one that is appropriate for the website’s purpose.

  1.  Imagery 

Imagery is another key element of visual identity in web design. This can include photographs, illustrations, graphics, and other types of images. The images that are used on a website should be high-quality, relevant, and consistent with the brand’s visual identity. They should also be optimized for the web, as this will help to ensure that they load quickly and look good on different devices.

  1. Layout and arrangement 

Finally, it’s important to consider the overall layout and arrangement of the design elements on a website. This includes things like the placement of text, images, and other elements, as well as the use of whitespace. The goal is to create a balanced and visually appealing layout that makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for and engage with the content.

Check out the Edgar Allan blog for more posts on visual language, brand strategy, Webflow templates, Webflow development, and content design.

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