By Frances Collins
15/08/2017
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Visuals: Bridging the words and the pictures

Exercises like working out your brand values, or uncovering your audience personas can feel really satisfying once complete. Often, when completed as part of a team it drives enthusiasm and everyone feels like they are on the same page. Then, when part of a branding process, the initial visuals appear, or the mood boards are completed and the opinions once again feel conflicted.

What will it look like?

You may not have stumbled upon this phenomenon, but in the early days of a dozen eggs it kept on happening! Part of the problem was we weren’t talking about what things looked like early enough! Yes, ‘trust’ maybe a brand value — but what does that look like? One person may be imagining a bank vault, whilst another a warm handshake – two very different visual images.

Our different cultural, environmental and personal backgrounds mean we interpret images differently to one another. A group of friends sitting around a table may have different connotations to the word ‘desert’, or they may conjure up similar images. Whilst taking clients through a brand strategy meeting, we noticed people were good at talking about their audience, about abstract problems and thinking 10 years into the future (or at least most founders of companies were). However, put an image in front of them – and it went straight back to preference. Do I like that colour? Is that font too stuffy? We find it hard to remove ourselves from gut reactions when it comes to visuals – and understandably, we haven’t been taught not too!

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Looking at the visuals through a lens of ‘audience’ is a tricky thing to do, but a step that needs to be learnt if the brand is to gain strength. Again, we need to deal in stereotypes. Whilst you will never be able to guarantee your audience will relate to a certain image, you will be able to narrow down a visual language. We all have imaginations. A visual language is a group of visuals that when put together communicate a concept, a brand’s values or a dream. The visual language of a children’s book, for example might be large scale, bright and bold illustrations that have soft corners, simple pattern and include obvious emotion.

We now recommend adding visual exercises alongside the written ones. Both to encourage those sitting around the table to air their conflicting views, but also to start to put together a visual language fitting for the audience in question. We use mood boards — a collection of other logos and designs that sit in the same market space, or have the same look and feel. These mood boards can spur questions and discussion around the visual feel of what we are wanting to create.

We use Pinterest as a tool to put together mood boards — feel free to take a look at our branding board.

If you are putting mood boards together for a group of you, remember to add in some wild cards! It stirs some good conversations and tends to ensure everyone gets more vocal, quicker!!

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