The image below is a print ad for a well-known international brand of soda. Can you guess which brand it is?
And now these two images? They’re also print ads for an international brand, but this time a clothing brand. Venture a guess?
If you answered Coca-Cola and Benetton, congratulations, you’re right!
And you know why you knew it? It’s easy. It’s because you were able to recognize in the ads features and elements that are part of the Visual DNA of the brands, which are also part of their identities. For Coca-Cola what you picked up on was the red color and typical image of Santa Claus. As for Benetton, the irreverent content and the exuberant colors were what you automatically picked up on.
As with traditional advertising, a presentation must contain elements that comprise the Visual Identity of the brand, company or project in question, and/or the traits and values that characterize it.
And, as with an ad, if we want to engage our audiences, we have to be able to bring something new to the presentation and to the identity. Something that will help us get the message across, in a consistent, impactful and memorable way.
But the work needs to be memorable in a good way. That’s why it’s so important to know what brand elements and references can and can’t be used. For example, in a presentation for Coca-Cola it would be “dangerous” to use blue as the predominant background color. It would be dangerous not only because blue is the color of Pepsi, Coke’s main competitor, but also because not using “Coca-Cola red” would be a big mistake – red is the color we associate with Coca-Cola.
So to get the Visual Identity elements right, it’s necessary to do a thorough and proper study of a company’s identity and brand. Analyzing things like the logo; reading the brand manual, the Web site, the promotional materials; checking out the advertising campaigns; and taking a look at other essential elements, like the company’s values and its mission; and, finally, looking closely at the goals of the presentation at hand. These are what will help to create a proper Visual Identity for each presentation.
And the better the references we have, the greater will be the consistency between the company and brand identity and the Visual Identity created for a presentation.
Now, brand identity is not the same thing as the visual identity of the presentation. In fact, they’re quite distinct: the latter(the visual identity of the presentation) is inspired by the former (the brand identity). And so, depending on the brand, product and subject matter involved, there may be in the same company’s presentations visual identities that are totally different.
The key word here is visual consistency. Consistency between the Visual Identity of the presentation and the Identity of the Brand, and consistency between the various slides that make up the presentation.
This consistency is important because, unlike with an advertisement or a billboard, which exists in an isolated moment, a presentation can be 20, 50 or 100 slides, or moments, in all. And since each slide is a part of something bigger, each needs to follow the same formula: from the sources of the content material, to the chart shapes chosen, to the colors and artistic styles used for each. Because from each slide the public must be able to spontaneously “get” and retain the brand essence and the Visual Identity of the story being told. It is the homogeneity that allows for the recognition of a Visual DNA in all the slides, thus reinforcing the fact that each is a part of a whole.
For example, and to explain better what we’re describing, here are a few slides from a presentation that Soap created for Coca-Cola in Spain, where we conflated the brand identity with the main message of the presentation: with or without a crisis, we cannot imagine a world without Coca-Cola.