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November 29th, 2016

Is Your Visual Identity Talking to Today’s Customer?

Thanks to the Internet, blogs, and online shopping, many savvy consumers no longer purchase products based on names and logos. They’re looking for unique items aligned with their values or personal brand. Customers want background information instantaneously, want multiple product visuals, and want it all to exceed their expectations upon delivery.

I should know. I am one of those consumers. When shopping for clothes, I examine quality from material to garment construction. While the brand name may attract me initially, I ask myself if the financial investment is worth it? Is it durable, does it complement my staples, and will it have long-term application? What about the company’s reputation? If it looks likely to fade or the fit isn’t right, or articles and YouTube vlogs report poor customer service, it stays on the rack. Swipe left.

How to Tell if it’s Time for a Makeover

Established and budding companies alike are assessing their brand and its core values. If you read Jamey’s blog, Our Definition of Brand Why, or download Ed’s Trail Blazing White Paper, you’ll see how companies are reassessing their brand foundation to develop pillars that become action tactics. Tactics that evoke the personality of the brand through a number of factors, including tone and personality, color palette, and typestyle. This is where, as a designer, I come in. I translate all that data into visual experiences for the customer.

Ask yourself this, does your visual identity provide equity and uphold the company’s brand values? Established companies often want to refresh their look to compete with contemporary brands and appeal to new customers. Abercrombie and Fitch is a good example of a heritage brand ditching its distressed, outdoor aesthetic that purported a libertine lifestyle, to something more like Zara and Topshop / Topmanā€”urban, every day, and approachable. The company that once relied on the moose mark to sell their clothes has refreshed its logo using a typographical stamp of its original wordmark coupled with a sans serif typeface. Employing contemporary photographers like Josh Olins, and establishing a new, yet restricted color palette, further helps Abercrombie’s vision for modernity.

Getting Customers to Add to Cart

In the year 2000, forums such as superfuture had discussion threads focused on denim. Members would ask each other their choice brands for Japanese or Italian raw denim, and would post pictures of themselves wearing their finds so others could see the fit, how to care for it, etc. Take, for instance, selvedge denim. It was popular until the turn of the 20th century. Popularity fell because its method of fabrication couldn’t keep up with demand. Then traditional looms were replaced with faster, en mass machinery. Selvedge saw a resurgence overseas due to superior craftsmanship and durability. However, customers now had to import these jeans from Asia or Europe or purchase it from luxury brands. That didn’t do our bank accounts any favor!

Around 2007, Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko saw the growing market for premium denim in the U.S. and founded the Raleigh Denim + Workshop in North Carolina. Their brand strategy is to produce unique clothes for the fashion and quality conscious, while still preserving a traditional method of fabrication. Its visual identity is a combination of Levi’s and AllSaints, known for their heritage and edge, respectively. Visual brand experiences strengthen the mercantile spirit of the company across all touchpoints, from store interior to packaging. Thanks to these experiences, today Raleigh Denim is a universal brand, and is acting as a catalyst for other American brands such as GAP and Levi’s to produce more affordable options.

Two more examples of this successful branding are simplehuman and Grady-White. The first features a visual brand identity and products that are unapologetically sleek and contemporary, attracting customers who like less noise, and more functionality. The second is a brand founded on building exceptionally made products and providing excellent customer service.

These are examples of brands that carefully conducted self-evaluation to ensure the allegiance of their ever-evolving customer base, through rejuvenation of their identity, and the creation of targeted visual and tangible experiences. Add to cart.

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