WYSIWYG: The growing importance of visual branding

Having a recognizable iconography associated with a brand has always been a crucial marketing techniques to draw in consumers. Yet, in a world where we are bombarded by an increasing number of advertisements every day, standing out and having a consistent visual brand is becoming harder, and more important, than ever before.

The stats: how much do we really see?

Every second, our senses receive over 11 million pieces of information from our skin, eyes, ears, sense of smell and sense of taste. Of these, the average person can handle a maximum of 40-50 pieces in their working memory, which means that we ignore 10,999,950 bits of data every single second we are awake. The job of a visual brand is to be interesting and engaging enough to become part of the 40-50 pieces of information committed to memory, and then draw the consumer towards its products.

Estimates vary wildly as to the number of advertisements we see in a day, ranging from 300-400 to over 5,000, but there is an agreement that whatever the number, it is on the increase. Marketers are putting adverts everywhere, from billboards to your Facebook timeline, and the speed at which they’re flicking past is astounding. One key marketing technique to overcome this fire hose of imagery is repetition of an image or phrase.

Studies show that the more an image is seen, the more likely it is to be picked up by the brain and committed to memory. Once there, opinions will form around it, depending on when and where it is seen and the quality and feel of the image, creating associations with the brand and its products.

But aren’t logos dead?

There is a school of thought claiming that the logo, and by association much of visual branding, is dead. However, while it is true that moving forward visual brands should be malleable, to accommodate the modern world’s constantly developing set communication platforms, visual integrity across a brand has actually become even more important in recent years. This is because, with concentration spans shortening and advertising exposure on the rise, the quickest way to get noticed is through the instantaneous language of images.

A visual brand language creates an immediate communication with the people who see it, and the more they see it, the stronger the associations with it become. This is no less the case in Publishing. Penguin’s bird in an orange oval, for instance, will have immediate and often subconscious implications for the reader about the kind of book they are about to pick up. Moreover, visual brands can also indicate genre, as with Orbit’s twin circles logo.

Visual marketing is just a door…

Yet, while consistent repetition and high quality images are key to the success of a visual brand language, it is important to remember that visual marketing is a doorway into introducing a company’s products to a consumer. The most successful brand iconographies are firmly rooted in the companies and products they represent.

If a visual brand language fails to properly represent its products, the associations that will become linked to it in the consumer’s mind are unlikely to be positive. As far as the customer is concerned, What You See Is What You Get, and that, at the end of the day, is what visual branding is there to show them

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