Logo design for B2B companies
Good visual identity design can help a business stand out. However, it should not be a substitute for a solid product or service offering that addresses a customer’s needs effectively. The identity is a tool to attract and retain customers.
What is a brand identity?
Brand identity is the face of a brand. It is the manifestation of the brand in physical space.
- Brand - Emotional.
- Brand identity - Physical and verbal.
A Visual Identity System (VIS) encompasses all visual assets used by a brand and is crucial for standing out in a competitive marketplace.
These elements include -
- Colour palettes
- Photography and illustration style
- Tone of voice
The identity system of a brand is used to control the deployment of trademarks and its accompanying elements on publications, ads, stationery, vehicles, signages and other areas. Identity manuals or brand books are designed to control the sizes, colours, spacing and architecture of printed pages or digitally designed interfaces. They bring consistency to a brand.
What it isn’t
Many people confuse brand identity with trademarks. A trademark is a small component of a brand's identity system.
A trademark can be a -
- Or other graphic device
The word logo sounds cool but is often used in the wrong context. A logo is short for logotype, made from a custom-lettered word.
The importance of a strong Visual Identity System in the b2b space
The proliferation of the internet has expanded the number of options available to consumers, emphasising the importance for brands to establish strong visual identities that allow them to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The human brain relies on previous experiences and knowledge to interpret and make sense of visual cues, making the psychology of visuals a crucial factor in shaping how consumers perceive and engage with a brand.
A solid Visual Identity System can :
- Build trust - It establishes consistency and professionalism, which in turn builds trust with customers. When a brand maintains a consistent look and feel across all touch-points, it signals reliability and instills confidence in the brand's offerings.
Create positive associations - It can evoke emotions and create positive associations with a brand. Colors, typography, imagery, and other visual elements can elicit specific feelings and connect with the target audience.
- Give you control of the brands perception - It allows a brand to have control over how it is perceived by shaping the visual cues that customers encounter. By defining consistent brand guidelines, a company can ensure that its messaging and visual elements align with its intended brand image.
Some other benefits are :
- A pleasing and uniform visual identity has the potential to draw more clients. People judge your company long before they know you. Books are judged by their covers a lot, though the saying advises otherwise.
- It can make you appear consistent, convey stability, earn a good reputation and build trust which leads to brand loyalty.
- It can help leads and your target audience to associate your brand logo with positive attributes. If your brand is consistent, you have more chances that people will recognise your brand.
The b2b identity crisis
There are varying arguments on whether a b2b company can benefit from a strong visual identity. Some claim that visual identity plays an important role in establishing trust and building credibility among customers and stakeholders of B2B companies. Others claim that identity design may not be as critical for B2B companies as it is for B2C companies, and that investing in it may be a waste of time and resources.
Lately b2b companies are being built to be sold - not to last.
This trend has come about due to several reasons -
- VC funding places a ton of pressure on startups to achieve rapid growth and profitability, with the expectation of significant return on their investment.
- It’s never been easier to buy and sell companies, due to the rise of online marketplaces
- The success stories of high profile startups has created a perception that building a company to sell is a viable path to riches
In such a climate, does identity design matter?
The approach to identity design may differ depending on the company’s goals, so the answer is contextual.
For b2b companies built to be sold
Identity design may focus more on :
- Being flexible, allowing it to be easily adapted as the company grows or shifts focus.
- Creating a visually striking and memorable look and feel that can quickly capture attention in the market.
- Being distinctive enough to make the brand stand out in a crowded field of similar companies and look appealing.
For b2b companies built to last
Identity design may focus more on :
- Consistency and long-term sustainability, with the goal of building a lasting connection with its customers and stakeholders.
- Building a brand that reflects the company’s core values and mission, and resonates with its target audience.
In both contexts, the identity of your b2b brand does matter. But here’s the kicker -
“Your company isn’t valuable because of your brand identity. Your brand identity is as valuable as your company.” - Chris Do
What is brand equity?
Brand equity refers to the intangible value and perception that a brand holds in the marketplace. It represents the commercial value and reputation a brand has built over time.
Brand equity encompasses various factors such as -
- Brand awareness - Brand awareness refers to the extent to which a brand is recognized and remembered by potential buyers.
- Customer loyalty - Customer loyalty represents the commitment and preference of customers towards a particular brand. It signifies the level of trust, satisfaction, and repeated business that customers have with a brand over time.
- Brand associations - Brand associations refer to the mental connections and attributes that customers link to a brand.These associations can include qualities such as reliability, innovation, or trustworthiness, and are shaped by a brand's actions, communications, and customer experiences.
- Perceived quality - Perceived quality refers to customers' subjective assessment of a brand's product or service quality. It is influenced by factors such as reputation, performance, durability, and customer reviews.
- Brand image - Brand image refers to the overall impression, personality, and characteristics associated with a brand.
The concept of brand equity suggests that a strong and well-established brand will have a competitive advantage over its competitors. It enables a brand to command premium pricing, attract and retain customers, and generate customer preference and loyalty.
Brand equity reinforces brand identity
Brand equity is built over time through positive customer experiences, effective marketing strategies, and consistent delivery of value. As brand equity strengthens, it reinforces and validates the brand identity. When customers have positive experiences and perceptions associated with a brand, it solidifies the brand's identity in their minds.
Brand identity shapes brand equity
Brand identity plays a crucial role in shaping brand equity by establishing a unique and recognisable brand image. It helps differentiate the brand from competitors, create emotional connections with customers, and communicate the brand's values and personality. A well-crafted and consistent brand identity enhances brand awareness, associations, and customer perceptions, all of which contribute to building brand equity.
But what if my brand identity is set?
If you've invested in a visual identity that isn't working out, there is still hope. Changing a company's visual identity is possible, but it must be approached strategically and with care.
Why isn’t it working?
The first step is understanding why the current VIS isn’t working. There could be multiple reasons -
- Lack of brand recognition: If the target audience is unable to identify or associate the visual elements with the company or its offerings, it indicates a weak visual identity.
- Inconsistency: If the visual elements, such as logo, colours, typography, and overall design, vary across different platforms, it creates confusion and dilutes brand identity.
- Poor market reception: If the visual identity fails to resonate with the target market or elicit a positive response, it may indicate a disconnect between the brand image and customer expectations.
- Outdated or irrelevant design: If the visual identity appears outdated or no longer aligns with the company's values, industry trends, or target audience preferences, it may be necessary to consider a refresh.
- Negative associations: If the visual identity is associated with negative connotations, controversy, or outdated perceptions that harm the company's reputation, reevaluating and rebranding the visual identity might be necessary.
Conduct a brand audit to understand what aspect of the brand or its visual identity isn’t working.
Evolutionary vs revolutionary change
Once the audit is done, you will be able to gauge whether or not you need to make an evolutionary change or revolutionary change to you brand.
Revolutionary change - It entails a complete overhaul and reimagining of the brand's visual elements, messaging, and positioning. This type of change is more drastic and transformative, often driven by the need to address substantial brand issues, reposition the company in the market, or target a new audience. Eg - Atlassian
Evolutionary change - It involves refining and modernizing the visual aspects while maintaining core brand attributes and familiarity. This type of change aims to evolve the brand in response to market trends, customer preferences, or internal strategic shifts without completely discarding the existing brand equity. Eg - Mailchimp
Factors to consider before investing in identity
- Business goals - The company should first define its business goals and objectives. The brand identity should align with these goals and help achieve them to an extent.
- Target audience - Understanding the target audience is crucial to creating a successful brand identity. The company should research and analyse its customers preferences, needs, and behaviour to create a brand identity that resonates with them.
- Competitive landscape - The company should analyse its competition and identify what sets it apart from them. A unique brand identity can help differentiate the company from its competitors.
- Brand personality - The brand identity should reflect the company’s personality and values. It should be consistent across all touch-points and resonate with customers.
- Scalability - The brand identity should be scalable and flexible enough to accommodate future growth and changes in the company’s focus or offerings.
Good visual identity design can help a business stand out. However, it should not be a substitute for a solid product or service offering that addresses a customer’s needs effectively. The identity is a tool to attract and retain customers. If you spend time investing heavily in creating a visually appealing logo, website design, or branding material but don’t provide a solution that meets the specific needs of the customer, the customers are unlikely to be impressed by the identity. Rather, they will focus on the shortcomings of the product or service.