First Impressions: The Impact of Visuals on Your Brand

Date: February 20, 2020
Author: Kristin Zhivago
Photo of Zhivago Partners graphic designer Liza Littlefield

In this post, our graphic designer Liza Littlefield shares her thoughts on the importance of visual impact in creating a successful brand for your company.

The truth is, we live in a visual world. There are aesthetic indicators that influence our feelings about things we interact with, often without us even realizing it. A pleasing visual is the first step in establishing the worth of your brand, and also sets the stage for the experiences your customers then have with your brand. 

In the food industry for example, “presentation is everything” is a well-used phrase. If you receive a plate of food that’s beautifully put together, it elevates your dining experience versus something that’s slapped on a plate without care. The food itself could be exactly the same in those two scenarios—but the visuals influence that meal, your recollection of it, and your likelihood to recommend it to others. 

Additional examples of visual impact include the way someone dresses, the way a storefront is tended to, how an instructional user manual is designed (and how easily it’s able to be deciphered). Or perhaps the way a public space is put together and how its framework either engages or dissuades people to interact with it. 

We live in a world of visual language. And the way that various materials and physical components are crafted, shapes experiences with our surroundings. The same goes for branding. Branding is the metaphorical “handshake” of your company. It is the first and lasting impression that sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. It reflects your core essence, going beyond mere aesthetics. The importance of branding “done right”—and its impact on your success—can’t be overstated. 

Why visual impact matters for your brand

The care that is put into your website, logo, online ads, social, print materials, and other elements of your brand are contributing factors to the success of your branding strategy, and how your company delivers when it comes to that first impression.

We often aren’t fully cognizant of the judgements or thoughts that float through our minds when perceiving visual details, but they make a difference. It could be the distinction between your company looking mediocre versus sophisticated, or average versus exquisitely operated. 

Each of us makes associative decisions based on how we feel when approaching a company for a potential service. Branding and aesthetics certainly aren’t the full picture —if you have beautiful artwork but a faulty product that falls short of expectations, that’s far from a viable business solution. However, if you have a beautifully functional product or service that honors its mission and works well for consumers, but your branding is an afterthought and careless visual mistakes have been made, then you may be missing out on potential connections with new customers. 

As the speed and efficiency of our society increases and intensifies, you have less and less time to make a meaningful first impression before people lose interest. 

As Kristin Zhivago is fond of saying, “Branding is the promise that you make, your brand is the promise that you keep.” Paying attention to what your brand conveys on a moral, integral, and functional basis is essential. But just as essential are the visual and aesthetic decisions, which make it possible to reap the benefits of the company you have built. 

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