Through branding, we can create a particular tone and experience. While this isn’t limited to just the visual elements of branding, I am going to focus mostly on the visuals in this post. So, for example, as someone with graphic design skills, I know I have the ability to make a business look very upscale and expensive. Through the way I create designs, I can portray an image of rich luxury or understated elegance. That image then goes on to communicate a message regarding things like price and the experience involved.
What this means is that you can communicate the value of what you do to your target market by the look of your branding. This is something that helps you to reach the kind of people who are most likely to be best-fit clients and purchase your high-ticket, premium services.
People form opinions of your business from its branding
As consumers, it’s largely through the visuals that we gather information about the world around us and the brands we engage with. From the moment we come into contact with a business — by seeing the logo, visiting the website, holding the packaging — we start to form opinions and thoughts about it. The same service, wrapped up in two different brand identities, will create two different opinions.
Right from their first impressions, your audience starts to decides if your brand is for them and whether or not they like your brand. They immediately begin to draw conclusions based on what they’re experiencing. That then influences the way they feel about your business and what it offers.
You need to take control of the image you’re portraying
The look of your business needs to be a genuine expression of the kind of quality and value that you deliver, as well as the personality of your brand. Now, it’s not about creating a beautiful external image to “trick” people into engaging with your brand. Rather, your branding should set up realistic expectations about what your audience can gain from your business.
Let’s say you offer a service that can have a huge impact on your client’s business or life. You should charge premium prices accordingly, and your branding should also reflect that value. This means branding that is polished and well put-together. It should be set up in a way that when you tell your prospects your prices, it don’t feel incongruent or unexpected.
Your branding helps you qualify your prospects
Having branding that expresses the high-value, high-quality nature of your services means you can qualify your prospects. This can happen before they even get in touch with you. No matter what your offers are, you always want to minimise the time you spend responding to enquiries from people who aren’t going to be a good fit for your services. Making sure your prospects can afford your services is an important consideration. Your branding helps your leads to self-qualify and recognise when they are or aren’t in the right place.
So, what does a premium brand look like?
Obviously, there isn’t just a single answer here. Defining what “premium” looks like is highly subjective. Besides, creating a brand identity is always dependent on things like the industry of the business, as well as the brand’s personality and purpose.
That said, here are some general ideas and design choices I can offer about how to communicate premium value and create a brand that looks very high-end.
Show care and thoughtfulness
I believe a common theme in high-end brands is communicating to the audience a sense of “please, take your time”. This is in contrast to the high-urgency tactics of bargains and limited-time discounts that are often used to help shift lower-priced products or services. For high-ticket services that cost thousands of dollars, the decision to go ahead is a considerable one to make. Because of this, it’s important for the business to be respectful and give the client space. Trying to rush a sale will come across as being very pushy and inconsiderate.
As a result, the branding tends to focus on communicating a tone that says “we’ll take care of you” and allowing prospects room to breathe and come to their decision. In a visual design language, that can look like:
- lots of white space
- comfortable, neutral colour palettes
- relaxed imagery
Use design shorthand to portray luxury and opulence
There are certain design choices that are a kind of shorthand for communicating luxury. Some examples of this include:
- marble textures
- metallics, like silver, gold and rose gold
- black and white colour palettes
- serif typefaces
- print embellishments, such as embossing, foiling, and spot UVs
You could probably think of examples of brands that use these kinds of design choices to mark their high-end product ranges, even in place of their usual brand colours and styling. These design choices can quickly tell your audience about the level of price and service to expect from you.
However, I do have a warning — there is definitely such a thing as overdoing it, and you want to avoid that at all costs. Pushing this kind of design too far, perhaps by using too many of the suggestions or applying the aesthetics in a heavy-handed way, can easily look tacky and the very opposite of classy. Being refined comes from a certain level of restraint. It’s got to be balanced.
Always keep the visuals consistent
This is an important point about branding in general. Consistency demonstrates a level of professionalism and attention to detail that speaks volumes to your audience. When your brand visuals are mismatched or have a distinct “DIY” feel to them, it (rightly or wrongly) communicates a lack of care.
Showing up with a unified visual style tells your audience that you pay attention to little details. It (perhaps subconsciously) demonstrates to them that the level of professionalism you deliver will be evident in every aspect of your business.
Visual branding and graphic design is a pretty powerful tool to take advantage of in your business. In just the same way you would take the time and care with your appearance and the way you dress and present yourself in person, your business should also be presenting itself in the best light. If you want to attract high-end clients who will be interested in your high-end services, then I do think it’s important to look the part.
The image that your clients have of how much your services are worth to them is all about value perception. That’s something I explore a lot in my guide to charging premium prices. If you’re interested in learning how to communicate value in the way you build your brand, check out the free downloadable PDF.
Looking for more content? Try these!
- Why you need to design a great brand experience
- How to choose your brand identity colour palette
- Why brand identity is important for your business
- Before you DIY your logo, consider these important points
- What is brand equity and what does it mean for small businesses?
- Why you need to define your ideal client