Defining a Visual Strategy for Your Brand with Studio Bicyclette

Today we are welcoming Paige of Studio Bicyclette, a creative studio and lifestyle brand who is talking all things branding with us. Paige will be with us for a series of three posts and today we are kicking it off with defining a visual strategy. Paige is such a powerhouse of information and has even included a download to help you define YOUR brand and implement important tools to elevate your business. Without further ado, let's dive in! 

If you’re anything like me, it’s likely you crave a side of structure with the dreamy inspiration boards and beautifully styled photos that are often part of a creative endeavour, whether that’s a styled shoot, an event, or simply a post on social media. While all are important brand touchpoints and we know that a certain level of cohesiveness is essential, it can be hard to execute that and know how to define what helps our brand stand out from the rest and turn that into an actionable strategy.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to dive into this concept of a visual strategy — what it is, why it’s so important, how to discover the elements of your own visual strategy and bring them to life, and how you can use this in a variety of ways to elevate your brand.

What is a Visual Strategy, anyways?

A visual strategy provides guidance as to how to style your brand and the framework within which to share your story. It helps you figure out what to share and how to share it. It helps define the voice and look of your brand, providing you with the tools you need to translate it into suite of imagery or visual content that can be used to showcase and enhance your brand, whether it shows up on your website or blog, in your social media content, or through other brand collateral.

Simply put, it takes you from inspiration board to visual content, with the trust that you’re creating the right kind of content that will help you effectively tell your brand story.

A brand is more than a set of brand collateral. More than your logo, your colour palette and your website — it is an experience, and your visuals should help communicate that and showcase your brand style no matter what the touchpoint is, immersing your audience within your story and including them on the journey.

Resonating at an emotional and instinctual level, a powerful brand communicates your values subconsciously, resonating directly with your dream clients and attracting the right audience.

The Importance of Styling Your Brand

The ultimate goal here is to create a visual style that tells a story, so that whenever people see your images, they know it’s your content and it feels connected to the rest of your brand. It’s that feeling of seeing an image and automatically exclaiming “That’s so….”. We know the brand so well because they’ve succeeded in defining their brand style.

There should be consistency at every brand touchpoint - your branding, your website, your social profiles, your imagery - people “get” that it’s your brand because of consistency in the colour palette, the tone, the voice and the visuals, while all tying back to your brand vision and values.  Moving forward, this will serve as a filter for any content you produce, and trust me - it starts to become so inherent that you’ll barely have to think about whether something is “on brand”.

Styling your brand allows you to communicate an intentional message, attracting your dream audience, enticing them to want to work with you and thereby realizing your goals.

How do you leave your audience with a first impression that captivates and imagery that tells a story and evokes an emotional response? Take the time to follow your curiosity and explore your inspirations. Pay attention to the details and focus on creating a visual strategy for your brand. Through doing so, you’ll be able to start defining the details that set your brand apart and showcase its distinct personality and style.

The Role of a Visual Strategy

Defining a visual strategy will help you:

  • Style your brand and tell your story in a visual manner

  • Narrow in on your brand story, identify what the themes are within that, and capture the details that tie it all together and allow your vision to come to life

  • Ensure that your brand images are visually aligned with your brand values and vision

  • Editorialize your content

  • Explore creative content ideas, but with structure

  • Turn an inspiration board into a vision you can bring to life through actionable steps

It’s about merging that right brain creativity with the left brain logic, using a framework that leads you through a process to develop a clear, actionable strategy and an outcome that is aligned with your brand story.

Starting the Process with Brand Discovery

The first step to defining a visual strategy for your brand is to do a little bit of brand discovery. No matter what creative project I’m taking on, this is always the very first step, and when I’m working one-on-one with clients, I have a detailed Brand Styling Brief that I have them fill out.

I’ve included an abbreviated version of this brief for you to download today, which includes 15 questions that will dive into your brand and get you started in answering some important questions that are necessary in order to style your brand, and tell your story through a visual strategy. Fill it out digitally, print it off and write in your answers by hand, or simply use the questions as a jumping off point in your own notebook or program of choice. Give yourself some time to spend with it, as this is an important part of the process and one that you won’t want to miss.

After you’ve answered the questions outlined in the brief, we want to start looking for patterns within the information.  This means we’ll be going back through the document and highlighting words or phrases that really stand out to us because they feel especially relevant to our brand and true to the brand style we’re trying to achieve, and also those that are repeated multiple times throughout the content.

If I’ve printed it out, I like to actually take a highlighter to my document and highlight those words and phrases as I go back over what I’ve filled out, but another way to do this would be to jot them down in your notebook, in the notes section of the Brand Styling Brief document, or even on post-it notes. These will play an important role later on and help you to start to define your brand language, so we want to make sure we have this information easily accessible.

So spend some time on that, and next week we’ll start to explore the visual side of your brand through my signature process for building an inspiration board.

- Paige

Be sure to join us next Wednesday as we move to building your brand visually! Leave a comment with a few of your answers to Paige's helpful Styling Brief. Let's help each other build our brands!