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Branding with Visualization: How to Build Your Company’s Visual Language

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Visual communication is especially powerful in the enterprise, as it allows you to present information efficiently, effectively and in an engaging manner.

Building a visual language to guide your brand’s visual communication is more important than ever, because every piece of content you create reflects your brand and influences your brand perception.

USA Today - Visual Language Example

USA TODAY’s Interactive visual language overview.

A visual language should encompass all brand communication—right down to the data visualizations found in reports. If you regularly create data visualizations, designing that data according to your brand style not only enhances the visual experience, it increases the retention and impact of that data. As the information delivered in these visualizations drives key decision-making, presenting it in a familiar and accessible format helps preserve brand identity while serving your audience’s need to get information quickly.


Here’s how to start building a visual language for data visualizations—and all brand communication.

Examine Your Current Applications

Identify how and where you are currently using data visualizations: reports, white papers, presentations, etc. Consider how you may leverage these more effectively by including them in your visual communication. Could a key piece of data inspire a blog? Could clients benefit from improved data visualizations in reports? There are plenty of opportunities to put your data to good use.

Annual Report: Human Rights Campaign 2012

A good example of breaking up text with visuals. – Annual Report: Human Rights Campaign 2012

Look at the Tools You’re Using

Many traditional creation tools are limited when it comes to data visualization. Programs like PowerPoint may not be able to deliver the design aesthetic desired, especially with high-volume reporting. Additionally, different departments may be using different creation tools. These challenges prevent you from being able to maintain a cohesive style. Identify the tool that may be most efficient for your company to use, then develop your style for that tool.

Create a Basic Guide

Identify the most common data visualizations you see across the company and begin to create a style guide. This can be a simple list of the charts and graphs that should be uniform in design. You can start with things like pie charts and bar charts, then create more specific templates as the need arises.

Develop the Style

After you identify basic needs, you can refine the more specific attributes that might need attention. Certainly, things like font labels for charts will need to strictly adhere to brand guidelines. But you may offer more flexibility for things like key colors, as long as they include brand colors. Your guide will continue to grow as new elements are introduced or new considerations need to be made.

Defining a good overview of the style is key. Visual Language Design for Addvocate

Defining a good overview of the style is key. Visual Language Design for Addvocate

Share Your Language

A visual language is only as good as a company’s ability to execute it. Success depends on the education of all employees who create content for your brand. Make sure that the style guide is distributed, understood and strictly adhered to. A formal implementation and review process can help make sure everyone is on the same page.

As creation tools continue to refine, implementing a visual language will become easier for designers and non-designers alike. Not only will these tools help preserve your brand, they will empower employees to become more creative—allowing everyone to embrace the power of visual communication.