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  • February 26th, 2015

Why I love visual branding (and so should you!)

Are you fascinated by visual branding Y/N? Here’s a clue: Think about the last time you stopped in your tracks (gasping) with eyes wide open?

You might have stopped in your tracks on Fifth Avenue in New York Y/N? The Bergdorf Goodman’s windows are certainly mesmerizing, inventive and can literally take your breath away. This retailer knows visual branding inside out.

On the other hand, you might not be visually oriented or interested at all. OK. It’s just important to note that visual branding in our 21C global village is more critical than ever – because it’s the images and visuals you spot along the way that are what really captures your attention, imagination… and then, you’re longing for more. Right? Another clue: Your heart beats faster, your eyes are gleaming. That’s the power of a strong visual… ahhhh.


If you understand that we’re wired to process the world first and foremost through sight, then it’s going to make sense for you to use amazingly compelling visuals whenever you’re talking about your brand, the kind of value you bring to the table, why it matters – and why anyone should give a damn.


According to my terrific branding colleague, New York-based Megan Kent, her research says our brains process pictures 60,000 times faster than text. So using visuals across all your brand communications and platforms just means your message will be more quickly and intuitively understood. (See the energy in that?)

I’ve always loved visual storytelling. (Being a Drama major probably helped.) In full disclosure, I’ve been called many things from brand storyteller, brand provocateur, brand anthropologist and then, of course, there’s the Dutch sea captain’s daughter. Quick guestion for you: What do people call you, over and over? When you’re dubbed a  nickname, these terms often hold some powerful clues…

OK. The piece here that fascinates me the most? It’s how you express your personality – and the personality around your brand, your business, the lot. That’s visual branding. It also requires that you show up (like you mean it.) This can be difficult for some.

Think about visual branding as words and pictures mixed up in an irresistible, potent cocktail that says it all: The look, the feeling, the energy, and then, there’s the line, color, shape, materials, finish, typography, composition (and all the rest.) These elements communicate your values to your audience directly (as well as subliminally) as well as what you stand for _all through your own design style. The best news? Your visual branding will create deep emotional connections between you, your brand and your audience. Bonding is important today in a world with a low-attention span. It’s part of being H U M A N.


• Fact 1º Design, visual branding, visual storytelling and a creative aesthetic is here to stay.

• Fact 2º If you have visuals on your site or blogs, it’s going to boost traffic. (PS Stock shots are not an option. Believe me. Do you really want to bond with two people (with forced smiles) dressed in suits and shaking hands?)

• Fact 3º If you watch a (product) video, you’re more likely to be influenced or tend to buy (than those who don’t watch.)
• Fact 4º Visual branding is going to get you more traffic and boost your conversion rates.

So let’s look at one brand that’s highly-visual. It’s brilliant in its simplicity. Mesmerizing. Meaningful. http://common.is. One of my favorites.



A new breed of entrepreneurs: Alex Bogusky, Ana Bogusky, Rob Schuham and John Bielenberg created the ‘world’s first collaborative brand’…common.is. Their mission isn’t just to sell stuff. It’s more about doing shit that matters. Over a year ago, I interviewed Alex Bogusky (interviewed Dec 11, 13) and Mark Ekhardt (Oct 24, 13) on NY Brand Lab Radio. (Hear them here.)

At that time, the Common.is people were in the middle of a new site development. It was only last week that I looked at it again: From a visual branding point of view, I’d give this top marks! It gets a Zing prize!

1)  Simplicity of Design  Simplicity is one of the hardest things to get right. Something can look simple but there is always huge intelligence and mindfulness behind This Business of Simple. Here you see simple, striking design plus an exquisite energy that compels you to lean in closer to the screen. (Gasping.)

2) Maverick Mindset The message hits home. Big time. Notice the conversational language. You get what they are all about (effortlessly). You understand their intention and where they want to go. You’re invited on the journey. What could be better than that?

3) Sense of Optimism. Color palette is bright, clean and inviting. You want to stick around, see how much more you can discover. FYI Nothing worse that a dark, gloomy site which is really about sending people away.. and on their way. (Not a good business strategy.) Here you can sense these people are all Masters of Serious Play.

4) A Pumping Pulse. You can tell there’s a tribe of people behind this platform that are all Chief Inspiration Officers. Or better still: Chief Excitement Officers. The pulse of this site is pumping, and showing strong, vital signs. (FYI You never want to fall into the trap of a Dead Brand Walking, OK?!) So can you sense the energy here vs a site where no one’s at home? Big difference.

5)  EQ Reality Check When it comes to emotional intelligence, how do you think this site would score? For starters, its language speaks simply and directly to you. It’s certainly not keeping you at arm’s length. You understand that they understand. You know they get what’s going on here, now. They share that with you. You’re on the same page. So you see: their brand is just having a conversation with you in plain language. Forget the jargon. (PS Clients ask me every day: But don’t I have to appear to be professional? Mmmmmm. How about just being human. Isn’t that good enough?)

A design question for you: Does the design of your brand/company/website sparkle? Resonate with people who visit your site? (If you don’t know the answer to that, go find out ASAP.) Do you have some irresistible images around your brand that make your heart beat faster? No? Well then, go make that happen.

A communication question for you: Does your messaging, story and language hit home with your audience? Can people grasp the meaning and intention behind what you’re saying – easily? effortlessly? Or are they scratching their heads and wondering….

So go check out common.is. See how few links they have. Simple language in a box. Not pages and pages of small text that you know you don’t want to read. Pick up on how you’re feeling when you’re so close to that screen. Is that how you want your audience to feel Y/N? OK maybe you have work to do!

Get in touch, let me know how you’re doing as a Master of Visual Branding.  If you need any help, start off with my first (free) online video training: Start-Up Branding. 5 Questions you Should Ask Yourself.  

Zingingly yours

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