Cool Brands To Take Visual Inspiration From
In the world of branding and marketing, there are a lot of cool companies doing a lot of cool things. Whether guerrilla tactics, high quality PR, or brand reputation building, companies are working hard to stand out. Of the main ways to stand out, one of the most permanent is your visual brand. This is not only what users or customers see on a regular basis, it’s also a visual representation of your mission, vision, and values. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that applies doubly to a good brand.
We’ve rounded up some of the coolest brands (coming from cool companies) that you should know about – and take inspiration from for your next visual branding exercise. Whether for a niche marketing campaign or for your whole company, image matters and you want to make sure you get it right.
Wealthsimple is a robo-advisor operating in Canada, the US, and the UK. A “robo-advisor” uses technology to automatically manage your portfolio for you. Think of it like a digital version of the person you talk to at the bank about your investments. The benefit of digital? It’s faster and cheaper, which is why Wealthsimple can offer fully-managed investments (for retirement, savings, education, and more) at a fraction of the cost of traditional money managers like banks.
This cool company targets millennials, and its visual brand is aimed to be sleek and simple. The company uses yellow – a standout colour in the financial services world – to show how its different from traditional financial services. The sleekness of the design is also incredibly pleasant and easy to engage with, signalling how sleek, pleasant, and easy to engage with their platform is.
Inspiration point: Take inspiration here about how Wealthsimple uses imagery to remind you of their ethos.
Soho House is a private membership club that operates all over the world. Their target market is sophisticated millennial and Gen X individuals with a higher income who value connections and privacy in the hustle and bustle of the world’s largest cities. So when it comes to their branding, their entire image is about the lifestyle they create for you – calm, serene, but packed with culture and modernity. Soho House is not your grandfather’s stuffy old gentleman’s club.
The brand also goes against the grain when it comes to the private membership club world. While other clubs tout their heritage (which Soho House does as well in a way), Soho is focused on its future. Even its opening line on SohoHouse.com talks about the club’s growth, not its history.
Inspiration point: Use your visual brand to talk about what you do and where you’re going – and how it benefits users or customers.
Snaptravel is a hotel / travel deals site that texts you when awesome deals come about. It targets travellers who are tech savvy and money conscious, a tough market to crack. However, the platform has some exclusive deals that give it ground against big players in this space like Expedia.
The brand is minimalist, but focused on functionality. Everything about the visuals in the brand drive you to trust Snaptravel and know precisely what it’s all about. They also take a written approach to visual branding, being ok with a few more words on the page because they serve a good purpose: explaining how you get value from the platform.
Inspiration point: Words in a visual brand are ok – and even encouraged – when they have a specific purpose to help build trust in a new brand.
Another company taking on big banks, Clearbanc offers financing for e-commerce and SaaS (software as a service) companies to fund their marketing spend. While fundamentally just a loan, Clearbanc attracts users with its terms and conditions: a flat, transparent interest rate and funds can be delivered in a day. In a world where banks can take weeks before rejecting you, let alone accepting you, Clearbanc’s model is sure to change things.
The visuals of the brand, then, have to show that Clearbanc is at once not a bank and that Clearbanc helps you get back to work (talk about a cool company!). Like Snaptravel, Clearbanc uses both words and images to show and tell in their visual brand. Since a key pain point of business owners raising capital is how much time it takes, their headline is all about getting back to building a business – something the image shows on the left. While the brand may not have the highest fidelity, it cleverly uses words and images to tell a brand story.
Inspiration point: Cool companies don’t always need million dollar ad budgets to create a quality visual brand – it’s about getting the message out clearly to start.
In contrast to companies like Soho House that talk about its future, Ralph Lauren’s visual brand is all about connecting to heritage. While the company itself is not that old – namesake founder Ralph Lauren founded the company in 1967 – its entire brand experience is about connecting to the nostalgia of days gone by. Since they target upper income professionals and families, this connection to an old world is about a way of life more than the ability to spend money.
The visual brand would likely shudder at the thought of modernity, which is exactly the point. While they have updated their overall image to be more inclusive of potential buyers, it’s still about a lifestyle from the old days. The primary change for Ralph Lauren is that anyone is welcome into that lifestyle – it’s not dictated by who you are anymore.
Inspiration point: Evolve with the times, but stick to your guns.
When it comes to cool companies, Equinox is working hard to top the list. Initially founded as a side project of a real estate development company that wanted a business to fill its high-end retail spaces, the fitness club has gone global. The company targets high income professionals and entrepreneurs who view fitness not as simply “going to the gym” but as a way of life, as indicated by their slogan.
With clubs all over the world in the commoditized fitness industry, Equinox couldn’t stand out simply by having prettier gym equipment. Instead, their visual brand focuses on everything the company does – gym, spa, pool, health food, events, and more. Because it’s not fitness, it’s life.
Inspiration point: You have the power to position your visual brand how you want to. Don’t be held down by what you do; think about what you can become.
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