May 4, 2010

Digital Brands Are Visual Brands

In the digital world, our eyes are our most important sense.  We stare at websites, read articles, read and respond to emails, watch videos and so on.  The bulk of the information we are taking in comes from our eyes.

Evaluate Your Brand Visually

Take a moment and simply look at your company.  Look at the website.  Look at the products.  Look at the marketing collateral.  Look at the people.  Look at the office space.  Simply look.  Try to block out all other stimulation, and just observe with your eyes.

As you look across your organization, and all its visual touch points, notice your reactions.  What do you feel?  What emotions are being evoked?  Do you see patterns?  Is the imagery consistent or disjointed?  Do you like the colors?  Do the images draw you in or repel you?  Do you understand what the company does?  Are you compelled to find out more?  How are you responding to this visual experience?

As you observe your organization document your findings.  Be critical.  What have you discovered by observing your brand in all its parts?

Take this exercise a step further.  Solicit your colleagues and maybe even a few customers to judge your brand visually.  Make this a structured exercise.  Setup the environment so that the visual experiences are all in one place, and provide the participants a short questionnaire to collect their input.  This will give them structure, and make it easier to interpret their feedback.

You never know what you may discover, but input is essential.  Analyze the data.  What trends are emerging?  What impression is your brand leaving?

Create a Visual Brand Experience

Mise-en-scène is a film expression to describe all the elements of visual style in a play or film.  This ranges from lighting, décor, set design, space, costume, camera work, and so on.  Everything you see on the screen.

Great directors, like James Cameron, focus a lot of time and effort on the mise-en-scène of their productions.  Avatar was a remarkable film, because of the visual experience.  The story was ok, but the graphics, the cinematography, the design and the attention to detail visually were absolutely stunning.

Take a page from film, and consider the mise-en-scène of your brand.  In our digital age, it’s a must.  The bulk of the information your customers take in about your brand online comes from their eyes.  So make sure you are providing them a unique visual experience that builds your brand.

Four tips to consider when building your brand’s mise-en-scène:

1. Never use stock photography.  If you can see the imagery in your marketing collateral elsewhere, it isn’t a unique experience.  Do your own photography or hire an illustrator.  Build a unique visual experience with meaningful, purposeful and effective images.

2. Design with Purpose.  Put information where it’s expected to be.  Your customers should know intuitively where to click, and where to find information from your site.  No one wants to hunt for the About Us button.  Put information where it’s expected to be.

3. Don’t copy the competition.  Be unique.  Consider the visual experience you want to deliver, and then choose the design, colors and imagery to build on that brand experience.

4. Be consistent.  The entire visual experience must tie together.  The website, micro-sites, marketing collateral, product design, and so on must all tie together.  The story should build and grow the more your customers interact with the visual elements of your brand.

What do you do?  Do you have any other thoughts or suggestions on how to can craft your brand visually?

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