Whenever I start a custom visual identity project, I do request visual references. Even for my visual identity I still look up for real life references. And when I say real life, I’m talking about established brand identities. To find inspiration is all about being grounded, not copying someone else’s work.
Sometimes we have this AMAZING idea of put together a couple of graphic elements that we love.
Maybe we want to do something that is already working for another person.
But, when it comes to branding design, we are also talking about building something functional.
If you are not aware of technical aspects of the branding design process, looking up for established references makes you perceive functional details that you didn’t take note before.
A functional design is something applicable. It’s not what you think it works for your business, but what you figure out that will work with research.
The crucial thing you need to do before you go for a custom visual identity: find good references and inspirations.
A functional design lasts.
If you are ready to invest in a visual presence, make sure it is not about the money or about being visible. But about embracing an identity that will last for a few years at least and that relates intimately to your content.
References will make the creation process more straightforward.
While building a visual identity may seem like some “creative magic”, I can assure you that there’s NOTHING magical about it.
On the other side, there’s no exact recipe too. But, if we clarify as much as possible the results we want to achieve, we’ll make the whole creation process better.
References will keep you motivated.
If you ever feel bored with your graphics, looking up for brands that can maintain their identity for a long time can work as motivation to keep your branding cohesive without making it repetitive.
And you’ll notice that most brands don’t use only logo designs to do that. They use other formats of visual identity like photography, themes, and patterns too.