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How to improve your visual identity so you don't look like everyone else

Competition is tough. There are no industries where you are not under threat from a competitor.

Even if you are one of the first, it won’t be long before the imitators join you.

The one thing that is almost impossible to copy is your brand. It’s why you need to see it as an investment and continually review it to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.

The most visible part is your visual identity. I will discuss why most visual identities fall flat and how you can use maximise each element to stand out.

Your Logo

A logo is at the core of your visual identity and it is an important element but not as important as it once was. With so many formats your logo needs to adapt to, there is more of a move to simplicity and flexibility.

After working with a number of global brands, you understand the complexity a logo needs to contend with.

It needs to work on a billboard, portrait, landscape, laid over imagery, as small as an app icon. The uses are endless and overly fussy doesn’t seem to translate very well.

For me the art of a visual identity is in the creative expression. How do we combine the logo with photography or an illustration or if we have no visuals whatsoever.


This is the most common element of an identity that is neglected. Choose something free or popular or that is easy to display on a website.

Choosing the right typeface or creating a bespoke typeface can create part of a graphic language that people can identify you with even if your logo isn’t used. Like an advert has a feeling, you can guess which brand the ad is from. It’s the same with your type.

Colour Scheme

Colour psychology is so important to understand when choosing a colour scheme for your brand.

Humans have built in perceptions of what colours mean so it's essential you play to their associations. Take ikon, black represents power and is often used in the luxury market. Combine that with gold which signifies grandeur and prosperity. Black and gold combine to make a powerful association in the mind of a potential customer to subliminally signal luxury.


They say a picture paints a thousand words and it really can. It’s why brands spend a lot of time curating their style of imagery that becomes synonymous.

People have had their fill of stock imagery from the countless number of blogs with the most terrible photography.

Professionally art-directing a shoot is essential if you want to compete with the best.


There are not many businesses or brands that can pull off well executed illustration but if you can, it can really lift an identity as it’s much less common than photography.

Even illustration needs to be carefully thought through and directed and it’s usually a good idea to combine it with whoever sets the direction for your visual identity as they understand how it fits with the brand as a whole.

Advice is cheap

Plenty of people can give you advice on how to improve your visual identity but it's the execution that counts.

From all our past clients, it's always raised the perception of the business or the brand. That's what a an identity aims to do, position you in the mind of your customer as the one who can deliver what they need. Often that then lowers price sensitivity and makes you more profitable.

This article is written by Alex Colley, Creative Director of ikon | We are a boutique branding & creative agency – but not in the traditional sense. We hand-pick a team from our experienced creatives to suit each project, delivering a personal and bespoke service. Alex is always the lead contact every step of the way and our clients include the likes of Cartier, Westfield, Porsche, & F1.

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