Visual Brand Expression 101
Our eyes can be a pretty bossy sense, and sway our judgment. This means, designers hold the power to use typography and photography to grab attention and guide researching renters and seniors on their path to conversion. Read on to learn the basics of the visual side of branding.
Did you ever write coded letters to your elementary school BFF in the Wingdings font? Asking for a friend, of course. While a coded font might work well for top-secret-fourth-grade communications, it’s a poor way to engage with your customers. Many brands choose two or three fonts to give them some variety, while also allowing for consistency. Here is what the four basic groups of font choices say about your brand and business.
A serif is the small stroke found at the end of the tops and bottoms of letters. Serifs have been touted to improve readability for large blocks of text when printed, which is why they are popular with newspapers and books. Serif typefaces are perceived as classic and traditional due to their association with printed texts. If you want to give your brand a high-end, editorial feel, they can be a great option. Times Roman, Palatino, and Bodoni are a few examples of popular serif fonts.
Sans comes from French and means without, so a sans serif typeface is a font without serifs (aka the little hats and shoes that fonts like Times Roman wear on the tops and bottoms of letters). These fonts are more minimalistic, and have become quite popular to use on computer screens, or lower-resolution displays. These sleek typefaces are a great choice for businesses that are forward-thinking, innovative, and creative. Helvetica, Arial, and Roboto are all popular sans serif fonts.
Script typefaces are meant to mimic handwriting. They are fluid letterforms that join letters together like cursive. Script typefaces are more nuanced when it comes to branding. There are several styles, ranging from more formal to artistic. More traditional script typefaces are often used for invitations and denote luxury or elegance. Casual looking script typefaces are often whimsical, as if recently painted with a wet brush, garnering a more informal and artistic feel. Script fonts have become more popular lately and when used appropriately — like the Instagram or Pinterest logos — can be a modern branding element, too. Lucida Script, Pacifico, and Allura are all examples of script typography.
As the name suggests, decorative fonts are used for decorative purposes. Think of fonts you may see around Halloween which appear to be oozing, or a winter-inspired font using snowflakes to dot the i’s. These fonts should be used sparingly, and aren’t a good option for body text. Decorative fonts are often perceived as stylized, distinctive, and dramatic. Paint Drops and Confetti are examples of decorative typography.
Did you know when people read or hear information, they generally only remember about 10% of that information three days later? But, if a relevant image is paired with the same information, people retain about 65% of the information three days later. Ensuring that your branded photography is edited with a similar look and feel is essential for brand cohesion. Fun fact: consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23%. Here are three photography style options, and a few things to consider when choosing if they’re right for your brand.
Black + White
Some of the most influential, iconic, and historically significant photographs were shot on black and white 35mm film. It brings photography back to the basics and speaks in a classic and timeless visual voice. Black and white photographs look best when they have the full value range from deep shadows to white highlights. Pro tip: to get the most from black and white photography, it isn’t enough to turn a color photo into black and white, be sure to adjust the contrast slider to make the image pop.
From Instagram filters to branded content, faded, vintage, warm-toned images are trendy. We would argue that these images will look dated sooner rather than later. (Hello photoshopped black and white photos with a pop of bold color from the early 2000’s.) Your company’s photography selection all depends on the longevity of your photography needs. If you usually shake things up and create new branded images each year, then it’s not a big deal. If you tend to repurpose images for a few years, this might not be the best photo style. A desaturated tone isn’t the best choice to show things where color accuracy matters, but if used properly they can create a calm feeling.
Clean photos are light, bright, airy, natural photographs edited in a color-accurate fashion. These may be photographed using natural lighting — or strobes set to imitate natural light — but shouldn’t feel clinical or like a studio. These images are the most popular, and tend to be the most dynamic. Their color-accuracy ensures your prospects know exactly what the property or community looks like inside and out. This style will age well, and tends to feel active and expressive.
Be Creative to Be Competitive
Without good branding or design, industry competitors are indistinguishable from one another — or worse, forgettable. In short, your brand conveys everything that sets you apart from the competition. Which is why at G5 we believe in order to be competitive, you’ve gotta be creative. Learn how with the final report in the G5 MarTech Series: Brand + UX, and its accompanying workbook.