My colleague, Noah Henscheid, is our Brand Director. He should probably be writing this blog post. There are lots of ways to give your visual identity impact–through line, color, thematic elements, typography…the list goes on. 

But the fact is, that if you haven’t zeroed in on your messaging, none of that is going to do its job. (Which is why I, Amy Mertz, Messaging Director, get to write this post!)

The Message Is All

There was a show on the SyFy network for a while called Killjoys. It was about a group of space bounty hunters that worked for an organization called The RAC (Reclamation Apprehension Coalition). The motto of the RAC was, “The Warrant Is All.” Nothing else mattered to the RAC but the warrants, and every single Killjoy’s mission was clear: clear the queue and bring the criminals in.

I want you to think about messaging like that. The Message Is All. It should be the driving force behind every decision you make about your visual identity. The stronger the sense of your message, the better your designer—and ultimately, your customers—are going to be able to interpret it. Your branding has to speak for you even when you can’t use words yourself, and the best way to do that is to build it as an extension of your message.

A Bad Example

Let me give you an example of this not working.

Say you want to open up a dance studio. You want to target adults who used to be serious dancers, but have gotten away from it as they’ve grown up. You’ve done some research and know that a lot of them would come back to dance, and would probably pay well to do so. They are your primary audience, on paper. But you wanted to offer classes to kids as well, in case those same parents can’t take a class without bringing their kid along. Not thinking about how your branding should be tied to your messaging and mission, you go with a red-yellow-blue color scheme with a hand drawn dance shoe in the middle of a circle as your logo. It’s definitely bold. It definitely stands out. But while you have some interest from area kids…you aren’t bringing in the adults you wanted. Why?

Your branding might be too kid-centric. Adults aren’t even glancing your way on their behalf–not the former serious dancers anyway. The branding says “This is a place for kids.” It’s not speaking your message.

A Good Example

Let me give you the same example where this does work.

You’re still opening the dance studio. You’re still targeting adults who used to be serious dancers. You’ve done some homework and know that your target audience is mostly women between the ages of 27-45. In that research you’ve found that there are two things that are likely to draw the attention of that subset of the human race. Nostalgia, or spa-like color palettes.

Nostalgia would be cool and it is a great emotion to lean on, but nostalgia isn’t activated by the same things for everyone–especially not with an age gap like that.

So you look to the spa-like color palettes. You think about it. You want these women to know that this is a serious dance experience–but also that your studio is a place where they can go to get away from the hustle and bustle of their regular lives and just be themselves again for a while.

You choose a modern, sophisticated, calming palette. You use words like, “lose yourself in the music, find yourself in the dance.”

And the people come in droves. Because you also mentioned on your website that you run classes for kids concurrently with the adult classes–so they don’t even need a babysitter to attend.


That was a fake example for a fake company (though…can someone get on that, please?) but the principle stands. When your visual identity does not align with your message, you run the risk of missing the mark with your target audience. Taking the time to get your messaging right will help you reach your ideal clients; and in turn, it will allow you to fulfill your own goals while they simultaneously fulfill theirs. 

Need help crafting a visual identity that aligns with your message? Contact us today.