2 min Read
August 14, 2015

Look beyond the logo: Creating a visual system

Your organization’s logo is a critical element of your brand, but it’s not the only tool in the toolbox. In addition to the many non-visual expressions of your brand (e.g. your messaging, or the experience a donor has when making a donation by phone), a comprehensive visual system can play a major role in connecting your audiences to your mission.

While it’s easy to slap a logo on a coffee mug, your audiences interact with your brand at many different touchpoints—with many different visual requirements. More than ever in our digital world, brands need to adapt to all kinds of situations: from the tiny 16×16-pixel favicon of your website, to your social media channels, fundraising campaigns, events, and more. Extending your brand beyond a logo to include a consistent use of color, typography, and imagery will go a long way in establishing a strong visual recognition and emotional connection. It will give you the flexibility to keep things fresh, while staying consistent.

My favorite airline serves as a great example of a flexible brand with strong brand recognition. Let’s break it down.

The logo: It’s purely typographic and simple. Mostly, the logo gets out of the way of the other elements, which do the heavier lifting of identification. 

Color: Blue…duh. But it’s not just any blue. In addition to a core dark blue, jetBlue’s palette is supported by a limited range of blues. Orange (and occasionally green) are used consistently as accent colors. When they use anything else, they do it deliberately.

Typography: JetBlue uses only one font – DIN, a clean, simple, sans-serif,. It comes in many weights to provide flexibility and texture. For certain campaigns, they have introduced additional fonts, which are also clean, simple, and sans-serif.

Imagery style: This is where jetBlue’s fun personality shines through and where they allow themselves the most flexibility. By saying, illustration = yes;  photography = never, jetBlue sets itself apart from the pack. Even while introducing different illustration styles for different campaigns, by relying on their color palette, typography, and a dash of their quirky spirit, it always still “feels” like jetBlue.

Even without jetBlue’s budget, thinking beyond a logo to consider other visual elements, can help set your organization apart from your peers and foster strong bonds with your audiences. By thinking through a system and committing to a few rules, your organization can shine everywhere it needs to fly.

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