Alastair Smith

In part 1 of this series we looked at why building a brand can be more important than building your actual product when it comes to getting traction and growing your business. Using a brand to build an emotional connection with users is much more effective than bombarding them with an ever-increasing list of features or services.

In part 2 we looked at how to define a value proposition that will connect your organisation with your customers’ needs and differentiate you from your competitors.

In this blog we’re going to look at how you can communicate your value proposition effectively through visual design and why this is so important.

The rise of the digitally enabled consumer

Sales used to be all about legwork. Sales teams would find a list of prospects, pick up the phone and start ‘smiling and dialling’ until they found a prospect that had a requirement for their product or service.

The internet has changed all that.

Almost always, the first contact that a potential customer will have with your organisation is through your company’s website as they research a solution to their problem.

When a b2b buyer is ready, they will find you. Forrester research says “today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to a vendor”.

Making a great first impression through your website has therefore never been more important. Research has shown that users make a snap judgement on a website in less than half a second.

Having a visual brand design that communicates your organisation’s attributes and a value proposition shows customers why they should care. This positive connection with your brand can be the difference between someone continuing to read your site and becoming a customer, or instantly closing it and choosing a competitor.

The impact of visual design

The visual appearance of your website, and all of your marketing materials, look like sets the expectation for the level of service that the customer will receive

The Apple website has beautifully presented imagery of its products, with plenty of white space around them and a visual design which has been carefully crafted to reflect the Apple brand. It feels simple yet premium and high tech – in keeping with the rest of the Apple brand.

The very same products are featured on the JB Hifi website in a very different way. A much more functional product image is used and the clashing colours, mixed use of fonts and obvious offers and discounts gives the impression that the offer is much more focused on value. Make no mistake, this is just as carefully considered and crafted as the Apple website to help form the opinion in users’ heads that JB Hifi is a store where they will receive greater value.


What does this mean for you? Your visual design should always directly your brand’s attributes.

This can be through the use of colour, imagery style, empty space, typeface choice and any of the other variables that a brand designer has in their armoury. We’ll look at just one of these now:


Understanding a message that is read or heard can take time as people need to process the words and discern the meaning.

Understanding the meaning of an image is much faster as people can see the whole image at once, so comprehend what is happening almost straight away.

Colour is understood even faster as our brains have been conditioned to associate certain colours with actions and attributes, so we pick up meaning and messages subconsciously and instantly.

Brand designers know this so use colour as a shortcut to build connections with people who view a logo or any other piece of branded communication.

Common colours and their associated meanings are:


Action point: Have a look at the colours currently used in your company’s visual design and match them to the attributes in the diagram above.

Are these the attributes that you want to convey as part of your brand messaging?

Colour is just one part of an organisation’s visual identity, but each component must work together to help build an idea of what that organisation represents in a customer’s head.

Next week we’ll look at some examples of FS companies who have gone a great job of defining their brand and communicating it through their brand identity and messaging. We’ll also look at some examples of what not to do too!.

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