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3 things you need to know about a VI
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Brands tend to be biased on logo and VI (Visual Identity) designs - “I paid you, so you have to create an Apple or Nike level brand for me. Tomorrow when I wake up, everybody should know and recognize our brand.” They seem to think that as long as you hire a designer, their company can go on public tomorrow.
Today we invited logo and VI design expert, MUSHI DESIGN STUDIO owner, Heath Liu to share with us how a VI helps you to define your brand image and how to identify if your VI is contributing to your growth.
A VI usually includes a logo, logo use, brand color scheme, font families used, generally how the brand presents itself on different media, such as business cards, website and flyers.
1. Empty container
To most brands, the logo is the face. It appears on buildings, above the reception desk, business cards, website and all its products.
Brand owners care only that the logo matches their tastes, looks fancy, or represents something meaningful. Many people think that branding is a logo plus advertising. It's difficult for them to understand the fact that branding is a long-term process. It's quite impossible to establish an ideal brand within a month, a quarter or even a year. Marketers refer to short term marketing campaigns as “branding strategy".
Brand owners frequently request “I want a simple but strong logo like Nike's.” But it's actually just the beginning, the Nike logo didn't have that much of an impact either, they didn't have the “JUST DO IT” sports spirit guide either. When the designer presented the draft design, Nike's founder didn't even like it. At the end, they were said “Alright, let's just use that one.” The brand didn't become famous over night. Then the logo was printed and woven onto the side of their sneakers. Most importantly, Nike's sneakers are very comfortable. Creative advertisement campaigns spread the word of quality and their name. Over time, the brand gradually carried on the spirit of athletic achievements, something beyond the comfort and functionality of sneakers. After a long period of religious symbol “brain washing”, the small logo turned into a giant and impressive brand, a brand that's much more than the shape of a symbol, a brand that represents a positive sports spirit.
To us, a logo is more like an empty container. A logo alone doesn't connect to the audience, the brand needs to give the logo its vision, ambition, spirit and creativity, it needs to instil a specific impression of the brand into the audience's mind. Only then do they connect that symbol to the brand. This is the branding process. Creating and refining that container is the designer's job. It's probably easier to understand it that way. A good designer should create a container that suits the specific brand. A logo that suits a particular brand's vision is better than the fanciest or the most expensive one. Brand owners should be aware of it before choosing a designer.
2. Brand VI
The VI is a part of CI (Corporate Identity). It defines how a brand presents itself visually. You will never buy a pair of Nike sneakers with a logo in different font, an iPhone in a cheap, shabby box, or a can of baby milk powder with an unclear or cluttered logo. Those visuals are all defined by the brands VI. A standardized VI helps you deliver a professional and consistent image.
As you know, other than selling all kinds of beverages, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are two different companies. Their logo, color, packages and counters are visually distinct, because they have different VIs.
3. How to tell if a VI is good for you?
A good VI should have the following three qualities:
- Suits your business needs
Design is not art. Art serves the artist only, art is a type of self expression. Design needs to serve the targeted audience. Commercial designs must solve commercial problems, otherwise designers just entertain themselves.
It takes a design class student only a few minutes to draw the Apple's logo. Why is such a simple logo so powerful? In 80s and 90s, the impression of Silicon Valley was boring, mechanical. Apple's simple logo in rainbow colors enhanced the brand's uniqueness. Just like their slogan “Think Different”. Distinction gives a brand a unique visual identity.
- Easy to spread
A good logo needs only one memorable element. Adding too many meanings or elements distracts people. A complex logo is always less memorable. A logo that's simple and unique is versatile, easy to scale and long lasting.
Branding is a systematic long-term project. Once a brand connects with its audience, the rewards are phenomenal. Lots of VI designers just play around with templates. It's quite meaningless to give a business dozens or hundreds of VI standards and manual pages. Brands won't use most of it for a few years. Often what you really need is not mentioned in your VI. Therefore brand owners should hire professional designers that help them make sound decisions and guide them through the barnding processes. Logo and VI need to be designed specifically for your brand.
MUSHI DESIGN STUDIO is specialized in graphic design and VI design. Services include brand image development, packaging, print materials and website design. Our goal is to maximize opportunities by researching and exploring the combination of aesthetics and commercial objectives. We are committed to deliver valuable and meaningful designs.