Why awesome brand imagery is essential to growing your business

by | Jun 21, 2024 | B2B PR Blog, Brand Awareness, Content Creation

Key takeaways

This article examines the crucial role of brand imagery in conveying identity and driving growth. Learn how thoughtful, research-based visual choices can elevate a brand, while poor imagery can harm it. Identify when you need a visual rebrand, explore how AI can create impactful visuals and follow detailed steps to craft a strong brief for a successful brand redesign.

Brand imagery decisions are so important, intended to convey your brand’s identity and values at a glance, therefore, they require research and design knowledge. Your choice of visuals should never be a conversation that starts with “our CEO likes this colour” or “the owner wants it to include a lorry”.

With this in mind, start your research here: learn that awesome imagery can catalyse growth while imagery based on preferences, whims, or outdated design values, can literally reverse your growth. Here’s how to get closer to bold business imagery that roars as loud as you do.

What can brand imagery do for your business?

Brand imagery is the first shot you have at convincing a prospect to keep looking — to keep reading what you have to say. It shapes the perception of your business, influences consumer decisions, and ultimately drives growth. For this reason, any visual rebrand should be taken on with due reverence.

When we talk about business brand imagery specifically we mean all the visuals associated with your brand, from logos and colour schemes to packaging and social media content.

Note that not all imagery is created equal. While some visuals can elevate your brand, others can detract from your message and hinder growth. Let’s explore both sides of the spectrum.

Imagery that can hurt growth

Poorly designed or inconsistent brand imagery can confuse potential customers and dilute your brand message. Something as simple as a logo that appears outdated or unprofessional can create a negative first impression.

Imagine if a tech company like Apple used a cluttered and overly complex logo — it would be at odds with the brand identity of sleek, innovative, and user-friendly products.

Similarly, inconsistent imagery across different platforms can make a brand seem disjointed and unreliable. If Coca-Cola‘s iconic red and white colour scheme were inconsistently used or altered across their marketing materials, it would undermine the strong brand recognition they have built over decades.

Awesome business imagery examples that catalyse growth

In contrast, well-executed brand imagery can significantly boost your business’s growth. Take Nike, for instance. Their use of bold, dynamic visuals paired with the simple yet powerful “swoosh” logo effectively communicates their brand values of athleticism, motivation, and performance. This consistent and impactful imagery helps to inspire and connect with their audience either on an emotional or aspirational level, driving customer loyalty and sales.

Another example is Airbnb. Their clean, welcoming, and community-focused imagery reflects their mission of creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere. The consistent use of high-quality photos and videos showcasing diverse hosts and unique accommodations helps a range of potential customers visualise their own experiences, fostering trust and engagement.

By crafting, then maintaining, strong brand imagery, your business can create a memorable and positive impression, differentiate yourself from competitors, and foster deeper connections with your target audience.

Now, building bold imagery is time consuming and not every company has the budget for an illustrator or entire art team. There is an alternative: AI.

Using AI for business imagery as a bold brand play, not a cheap shortcut

Anyone who tells you differently is living in the past. Today, AI plays a pivotal role in creating bold imagery for brands. It can leverage advanced algorithms to analyse trends, consumer preferences, and artistic styles in a way that would take humans months.

Even if you’re afraid of using AI for content creation, crisis management, or PR, I would urge you to test it for image creation. It enables the generation of unique, eye-catching visuals that resonate with target audiences. I’ve said this before and it bears repeating: “There is no longer any good reason to send out dull, uninspiring images with press materials”. 

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Because they can experiment with colour schemes, patterns, and compositions, we often find that AI creates design solutions that push creative boundaries. Moreover, since AI can personalise imagery, this makes sure brand visuals are not only bold but also tailored to individual consumer segments.

Ready to test out some AI tools? Let’s decide whether now is the right time for a visual revamp.

Is your business due a visual rebrand?

Keep this article for later, because even after today you should regularly review the following aspects to determine when a visual rebrand is necessary, if you hope to maintain relevance and appeal as a B2B business.

Signs you need a visual rebrand:

  • More competition on the Savannah: Staying competitive might mean updating visuals to stand out in a crowded market or to differentiate from competitors who have modernised their branding.
  • Pack changes: an internal change in company values, vision, or leadership can prompt a visual rebrand to align internal culture with external perception.
  • Outdated plumage: if the company’s logo, colour scheme, and overall design look dated compared to industry standards, it may be time for a refresh.
  • Hyena feedback: Negative or neutral feedback from clients and stakeholders about the brand’s visual identity can signal the need for a rebrand.

If you’re convinced that now is the time for your business rebrand, read on to avoid fluffing the process.

How should you prepare a business brief for a brand redesign?

We will say this about roundtable events, press conferences, marketing, content plans, and literally any task with a slight creative element — a good brief will avoid headaches and painful back-and-forth. For the most creative project of all, brand imagery, a well-prepared business brief is essential. It sets the foundation for your design team, ensuring they understand your vision and can deliver results that align with your business goals.

To create an effective brief, you need to know what makes your brand unique, have evaluated other companies’ imagery, and be prepared to provide detailed insights. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

1 Start with what makes you unique, and a clear tagline.

Start from your value proposition. Identify the core element that defines your brand.

What sets you apart from your competitors? It could be your company’s mission, values, target audience, or unique selling points. For instance, if you’re a sustainable fashion brand, your commitment to eco-friendly materials and ethical production practices might be your key differentiator. Be tough on yourself as you nail your value proposition, what makes your brand unique might not be the first thing that comes to mind.

Clearly articulate this uniqueness in a concise and compelling tagline that encapsulates your brand’s essence. You may want to contract outside help for this job — Nike‘s “Just Do It” or Apple’s “Think Different” didn’t come from their CEOs. Both taglines succinctly convey their brand ethos and leave a lasting impression.

A standout tagline, or at bare minimum a clear value proposition, will inform your brand imagery so I recommend nailing this first.

Write down a list of companies whose imagery you hate, and why

Understanding what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want. Compile a list of companies whose brand imagery you find ineffective or off-putting.

For example, an interior design brand might find that the cluttered and outdated design of a competitor’s website creates a perception of being behind the times. Or a luxury hotel brand might be turned off by another company’s use of overly bright colours and low-quality visuals, which can come across as cheap and unrefined. Carry out customer research into what they don’t like about competitors’ and your current website or sales materials too — it’ll hurt, but now is the time to be receptive, even to negative feedback.

In the brief, clearly explain what aspects of these companies’ imagery are problematic and why they wouldn’t work for your brand imagery. This helps your design team avoid similar pitfalls and better understand your preferences.

A word of warning here: do not get sucked into the idea that your brand needs to be reminiscent, in any way, of your industry. Just because you’re a technology business and IBM is allergic to colour and animations, doesn’t mean your brand should be too. In fact, you might add competitors to your “what we don’t want” list specifically to help you stand out. If you’re going to the trouble to do a visual rebrand, be courageous, be bold in your brief.

3 Write down a list of companies whose imagery roars, and why

Next, identify companies whose brand imagery you admire and find effective. Detail what specifically appeals to you about their visuals and what aligns with your brand vision.

For example, the warm but fun design of Cadbury’s marketing materials might resonate with you if you’re aiming for a high-end, modern look. Or the vibrant and community-focused imagery of Ben & Jerry’s might be inspiring if your brand values inclusivity and social responsibility. Provide concrete examples and explanations to give your design team a clearer idea of the direction you want to take.

4Expect your designer to have more questions

A comprehensive brief is just the starting point. Expect your designer to ask for additional details and clarifications as they dive deeper into the project. Be prepared to discuss every aspect including typography preferences, logo placement, formatting basics, colour schemes and the overall mood you want to convey. The more information and feedback you provide, the better equipped your designer will be to create a fitting brand identity for your business.

To make your business brief truly effective, you need to communicate your vision clearly. Outline your unique qualities, preferences, and expectations, and make yourself available for any questions. This approach empowers your design team to create a brand identity that not only looks great but roars as loud as your brand.

How do we know all of this? Because we have held the hand of dozens of brands as they underwent a visual identity revamp, and we recently went through our own.

Quarter-life crisis? Why and how EC-PR underwent a visual identity overhaul

We recognised that the old logo did not reflect who we were in 2023. In fact, we’d grown to hate the flower that represented EC-PR until 2023 — it was appropriate when we started, symbolising nurturing and fresh starts. Although we, and our prospects, still liked the colours, we had outgrown the identity and visual imagery.

I won’t beat around the bush: The process to rebrand entirely wasn’t smooth, and we learned many lessons along the way. We worked with a consultant on lead statements, which led us to our new tagline. Initially, we thought we could make the old flower logo work with the new tagline, but the design agency had other ideas! Our imagery evolved from a flower to a chameleon, and finally to a fox or wolf.

Soon, the imagery took on a life of its own. Once the tagline and logo were in place we began to create animal-related imagery and adventure-inspiring creations using AI and our own imaginations. Naturally, we tested this new branding with current and potential clients, because there is no guarantee that what you like resonates with your desired audience.

Snapshot of 2024 after updating EC-PR’s business imagery: What’s the verdict?

We recently conducted qualitative research on the brand perception of EC-PR, and one area of concern raised regarding our growth challenges was our branding. The feedback highlighted that our branding is distinctive and represents me as a professional, but it’s also a “Marmite” branding — not to everyone’s liking and potentially ‘too much’ for some in the tech industry. We see this as an accolade.

Our branding is designed to compel or repel; the last thing we want is for people to be indifferent. We want them to either opt in or opt out.

As soon as your brand is ready to roar as boldly and fearlessly as EC-PR, we’re ready to guide you.

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