Finding the bliss point in visual branding: How to create a distinctive yet familiar visual brand

Think of your favorite foods. Some of them are addictive and you never seem to get enough of them. In the food industry this is referred to as the„bliss point“: The perfect combination of sugar, salt and fat that make us crave more of that specific food. There is a right balance between these ingredients. This method of balance can also be applied to brand building, where the right amount of ingredients leads to a successful brand.

While it’s important to stand out, achieving a sense of familiarity is just as important to foster connection and trust amongst your audience.

In a visual brand, these ingredients are distinctivness and familiarity. While it’s important to stand out, achieving a sense of familiarity is just as important to foster connection and trust amongst your audience. But it can be difficult to get this right. The following four steps are how I go about creating visual balance within a brand.

1. Research familiarity

Study your industry’s visual trends, color palettes, and design styles. This could involve embracing a unique color, unexplored imagery, or a different tone of voice. You’re looking for common themes across the industry. Also look at their values, the structure of their offers, consumer preferences and how information is laid out in general.

2. Research distinctiveness

Look at other industries to find inspiration for distinctiveness. Go beyond visual research and look at the business structure, their offers, technological advancements or how certain information is displayed. Take notes of things that stand out to you. What elements are different and rare that you haven’t seen often in other businesses?

3. Analyze your research and bridge the gap

Go back to your research. You now have a list of aspects that are common or underrepresented within your industry. Now you need to analyze which familiar and distinctive elements make sense for your project.

Reduce your list of familiarity and distinctiveness to a few points. Delete elements that are overused. At the same time pinpoint which familiar elements directly relate to your target audience (visual cues, their preferences, pain points, and aspirations) and your project (values, offers, business structure, etc.).

To differentiate yourself from the competition you have to present a fresh perspective. Consider what sets your brand apart in comparison to your research. This could be as simple as a unique color palette or as innovative as creating an offer that is totally new within the industry.

The hard part now is to figure out the right balance between familiarity and distinctiveness.

4. Finding the right balance between familiarity and distinctiveness

Getting this balance right, is tricky. It’s a delicate dance between innovation and relatability. If you add too much familiarity into your brand, it will make you look too generic and you won’t be able to stand out. On the other hand, if you integrate all distinctive elements and not enough familiarity, you won’t be able to connect with your target audience.

If you add too much familiarity into your brand, it will make you look too generic and you won’t be able to stand out.

I solve this by presenting three visual directions that are on a scale of familiar to distinctive. On one end I’ll have a familiar look. One that is relatable, but doesn’t look generic. On the other end I’ll present a very distinctive version, that is slightly familiar. And in the middle you’ll find a version that has an equal amount of familiarity and distinctiveness.

Illustration by Simona Cellar

Next, I’ll discuss this with my clients. As experts of their businesses, they will usually know where they fit in best. We also review how the three versions hold up against the competition.

Conclusion

By leveraging industry knowledge, identifying gaps, and blending familiar with novel elements, you can craft a visual brand identity that captures attention without alienating your target audience – the bliss point of branding.

Über mich

Hey, ich bin Simona, Brand Strategist und Designer. Ich helfe ehrgeizigen Kleinunternehmer:innen dabei, ihr Business zu verwandeln. Meine Leidenschaft ist es, authentische Markenauftritte zu entwerfen, die auf soliden Strategien beruhen und Dir helfen, Dich von der Masse abzuheben.

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