Visual communication is defined as
the expression and conveyance of ideas and information using visual forms or
aids (“What is Visual Communication?”). People will always be able to
communicate an innate understanding of a visual image no matter the language it
is originally in (Fanara). In 2011, Starbuck’s most recent logo redesign
dropped all text in favor of a more stylized version of the iconic mermaid
figure. The theory behind this change was the brand would more recognizable
anywhere in the world; consumers would not need to be able to read Western
letters to understand the company and its associations would not be limited to
just coffee (Walker, 215).
communication has been present ever since Homo Sapiens first wanted to share
ideas with one another. It can be traced back to the caves of Lascaux in
southwestern France or to the design of symbols in aristocratic European family
crests. A unique motif can help consumers distinguish one organization from
another in increasingly widespread and impersonal marketplaces. The utilization
of color, the shape, and the typeface – it all makes an impact on the final
message being shown to consumers. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s all branding (Walker,
theories have been applied to explain the relationship between visual
communication and how an organization uses different marketing strategies to
promote their brand. What ideally should appeal to a target audience is based
upon basic elements that have been researched using these theories.
Consumers make up
their mind on a product within ninety seconds of their initial interaction with
a brand. 62-90 percent of this judgement is based upon color choices alone (Satyendra).
Color carries intrinsic meaning that becomes important to brand identity and contributes
largely to brand recognition. How color impacts an organization’s brand
likeability and familiarity, positively or negatively, is used to understand
the formation of consumer brand perceptions. Using this, a brand can establish
an effective visual identity as well as solidify a position among marketplace
competitors (Labrecque and Milne).
Color is not
strictly a visual element; it has a psychological effect that can impact a
consumer’s mood and emotion. For instance, Coca-Cola is well known for white
script text on a bright red background. The color red is generally thought of
as portraying power, excitement, passion, and energy. It is a color that
stimulates the appetite, thus it is most commonly used in food and drink industry
marketing such as in McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Red Lobster, KFC, Wendy’s,
Arby’s, etc. (“The Psychology of Color: How Coca-Cola Captured Hearts around
All colors have a
certain meaning and psychologic impact behind them. Blue stands for being
trustworthy, dependable, and responsible. Most companies involved in
technology, finance or lifestyle use this color because consumers trust these
brands to handle their everyday lives. Some of the more recognizable brands
include Facebook, Wal-Mart, and AT. Green stands for health, freshness,
relaxation, and serenity. Brands such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Land Rover
use this color to show consumers that they are buying something to maintain
good health, to live without worry, and to live life to the fullest. Black
symbolizes business, luxury, sophistication, and drama. Companies such as Uber,
American Express, and The New York Times
newspaper all promote products that are luxury or considered high status (Miah).
According to the Journal of Consumer Research, a study
suggests that consumers make assumptions of an organization or product based on
the shape and form of the logo. It was suggested that circular shapes initiate
perceptions of softness, care, warmth, and sensitivity while angular shapes
have connotations of hardness and durability (“The Shape of a Logo Has a
Powerful Impact on Consumers”).
and ellipses project a sense of community, friendship, and unity. Examples are
Google Chrome, Samsung, and Dell. Curves signify happiness, rhythm, and
femininity. Examples are Coca-Cola and
Chanel. Squares and triangles promote stability and balance. Examples are Lego,
Microsoft, and American Express. Straight lines project professionalism and
efficiency. Vertical lines (Ex. Adidas Men’s) are associated with masculinity,
strength and aggression, while horizontal lines (Ex. Adidas Women’s) suggest
community, peace, and serenity (Christie). Triangles suggest strength, action,
and direction. Examples are Google Drive and Google Play. Specific shapes send
out specific messages to consumers. Marketers use this knowledge to show the distinct
qualities of their brand. One complex example is Nike’s logo; it uses a
combination of curves that end in a sharp point to suggest a sense of movement (Christie).
The logo represents Nike’s mission statement, “To bring inspiration and
innovation to every athlete in the world” successfully.
Similar to the
influence of color, a brand’s chosen typeface also has an impact on brand identity.
For example, if First National Bank had a logo that used Comic Sans, it would
appear more unprofessional than if the brand used a traditional serif font
(Fabrik). Jagged, angular typefaces
appear aggressive or dynamic while soft, rounded typefaces appear youthful.
Curved type tends to appeal more to women while bold lettering appeals more to
styles affect brand identity in different ways. Serif fonts can show tradition
and grandeur, while san serif fonts can feel simple and friendly. Brands such
as Yale, The New York Times, Time magazine, and Gap use a serif font
to promote feelings of class and establishment. These fonts, and therefore
these brands, convey feelings of trust and authority. A subset of serif fonts
includes slab serifs. Slab serif fonts are associated with confidence,
boldness, and solidity. Brands such as Volvo, Honda, and Sony have used these
typefaces to market a new idea or product. Sans serif fonts are considered
clean and straight-forward. Brands such as Chanel, Microsoft, and Nike put
clarity and simplicity first in their marketing strategies (Peate).
Cursive and script
fonts showcase handwritten letters while modern fonts are advanced and hi-tech.
Script fonts are used to represent femininity, elegance, and creativity.
Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Instagram, and Cadillac use this typeface to show off their
history or creativity. Modern fonts are designed to be simple and legible using
various widths in the transitions between strokes and serifs. Brands such as
Hulu, Nars, Shutterfly, and Facebook use modern fonts to promote feeling of
intelligence and style. Display and
decorative fonts are uniquely designed and used mostly in logos. Brands such as
Fanta, Lego, Disney, and McDonald’s use decorative fonts to promote their distinctive
and unique brands (Peate).
the basic elements of color, shape, and typeface to create their brand
identity, several organizations also use hidden messages within their brand to
promote their message to consumers. One of the best-known examples of this is
the FedEx logo. In the negative space between the “E” and the “X” is an arrow.
The logo designer, Lindon Leader, stated the arrow could connote forward
direction, speed, and precision as well as an element of surprise. Another
example of hidden message is the Baskin-Robbins logo. The pink and blue logo
illustrates a large “BR” which doubles as the number “31”. Carol Austin, VP of
marketing, stated it was meant to convey the fun and energy of the brand as
well as stand for the iconic 31 flavors of ice cream available (Giuliano). A
final example of hidden message is in the Amazon logo. Underneath the type is a
yellow arrow which spans from the “a” to the “z” in the word amazon. This is meant
to symbolize the simplicity in how customers can find everything they need from
A to Z at Amazon.com.
upon the elements of design and what combination of such should ideally appeal
to targeted audiences, brand identity has been accomplished using varying
marketing strategies after examining how certain elements affect consumer
behavior. An organization’s brand showcases its personality and image as well
as its overall competencies and characteristics. In layman’s terms, the impression made and
the way consumers will describe the organization are the basic framework of a
marketers are required to think up a brand that will be memorable and lasting.
Experiences are what consumers will carry with them for their entire lives. The
key to creating a successful brand identity is authenticity. Nike, for example,
created their organization to elevate the experience of the athlete. Organization
brands all desire the same thing; to promote their product by telling a story
and influencing consumer behavior. Understanding the customer and what they
will take away from a brand is key (Moré).
technology company known as GoPro created its brand simply around a camera and
a desire for users to feel involved and included. The brand was built on two
concepts. First, the brand was built on the idea of user and community
interaction. The marketing strategy was meant to encourage users to not only
buy the camera, but to continually use it and share their experiences with the
community. With the continued practice of published user content on GoPro’s social
media platforms, the brand created a sense of belonging and loyalty within its
customers. GoPro invited users to utilize
their cameras while engaging in high adrenaline activities, which created an
opportunity for users to have a unique experience (“Case Study: GoPro’s
Branding Strategy”). Instead of going with the traditional route of
publishing trendy promotional video productions that many other companies take,
GoPro decided to allow users to publish their own high-quality stunts and
breath-taking video clips. The active consumer role along with the high degree
of network connectivity precipitated a huge increase in GoPro’s brand
popularity (“The Successful Use of Consumer-Generated Advertising in Content Marketing
Revealing the Secret Formula of GoPro”)
The second concept
of the brand was built around the slogan, “Be A Hero”. According to Strategist Magazine, the slogan was more
than just for engaging in high-adrenaline sports; it was meant to inspire users
to be the hero of their own story. The company wanted customers to use the
camera to experience their lives without the limitation of being forced to hold
the camera with their hands (“Case Study: GoPro’s Branding Strategy”).
The GoPro logo
utilizes four squares of varying shades to represent the uses of the camera. In
order from left to right, the first square represents motocross and biking. It
is a light blue color, symbolic of the color of the sky when riding. The second
square represents surfing represented by another light blue color. The third
square represents water sports and the ability to withstand the elements. It is
represented as a dark blue color. The fourth square represents snow sports and
represented as the color white (Conery).
Every aspect of
GoPro’s brand including domain, heritage, inflection, personality, and values
contribute to the overall marketing strategy (“Case Study: GoPro’s Branding
Strategy”). GoPro successfully created a brand identity that was authentic and
memorable and utilized a marketing strategy that encouraged active user
participation. This marketing strategy, through their use of unique brand
identity, was able to achieve the goal of brand creation and inspire loyalty in
customers that many other companies fail at (“Case Study: GoPro’s Branding