Building Brand Identity: A Visual and Verbal Collaboration

In class last Thursday, Professor Davis discussed how to create visual identity for a brand. Elements that make up a visual identity are color, type, logo and use of white space and powerful images. The visual identity should also answer who, what, when, where and why about the organization. In other words, the visual identity should align with the mission of the organization and the key messages it wants to convey to its audience.

In prTini, one of my favorite PR-related blogs, Heather Whaling wrote a post about identifying target audiences and writing key messages. To create verbal identity, she discusses creating “brand vocabulary” – using words and phrases that fit the organization’s brand and target audience.

She says, “Once you determine who you’re trying to reach, then you have to figure out how to talk to them. When developing messages, remember that repetition is key. So, whether you’re creating content for a bylined article in a magazine, or drafting blog posts or online status updates, keep your brand vocabulary and key messages in mind.

As a brand’s visual identity in colors and logos can be translated from print materials to websites to t-shirts, the verbal identity should be consistent, memorable and work with varying platforms, as Whaling says below:

“What words and phrases do you want associated with your brand? These words and phrases should align with your key messages, but should also include adjectives and action phrases that can be worked into PR and social media activities, customer service interactions, sales pitches, collateral, speaking engagements and other interactions.”

In class, we looked at McDonald’s and Nike’s logos and rattled off numerous meanings and messages that each one conveys . What messages does the logo for Apple tell us?

In a article, Marc Gobe, author of Emotional Branding, says Apple’s brand is key to its survival. “Without the brand, Apple would be dead. Absolutely. Completely. The brand is all they’ve got. The power of their branding is all that keeps them alive. It’s got nothing to do with products.”

Do you agree with this statement?

I beg to differ: I don’t agree that Apple’s products are made obsolete by a strong brand. The products and brand need to mirror each other. If aligned correctly with target audiences and key messages, a strong brand with visual and verbal identity supports a quality product or service and vice versa.


About lkmccarthy

Lindsey Kate is a public relations professional. Words are her work. People are her purpose. Health and happiness are her passion. University of Oregon alumna. See more of her work at
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