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September 15, 2023   |   Design

When do you need to refresh your Key Visuals?

Key Visual — what is it?

Key Visual (KV) is a graphic element or image that is the central and most recognizable component of a brand or campaign’s visual identity. You can read more about this in our article “Key Visuals. What are they?”

When do you need to refresh your KV?

Sometimes you don’t need a complete brand redesign to achieve your business goals. You can simply refresh your brand.

Read about the difference between a refresh and a rebrand in our previous article.

One way to rejuvenate a brand is to update its key visual elements. This approach is a good way to modernize the brand identity while maintaining recognition and consistency. It allows for the introduction of new graphics without altering the core characteristics of the brand. But how do you decide when it’s the right time for a visual refresh?

When is it a good idea to update Key Visuals?

  1. New stage of development: If your brand is entering a new phase of development, such as expanding your product line, entering new markets, or pivoting your business model, updating your key visuals can help reflect these changes.
  2. Evolving Audience: If your audience is changing or expanding, updating your Key Visuals can help you to better align with their tastes, preferences, and expectation.
  3. Aligning with Market Trends: When visual trends change, is vital to remain relevant and capture attention.
  4. Campaign Launch: When you are preparing to launch a new advertising campaign or promote a new product.
  5. Staying Competitive: If your competitors are refreshing their brand, updating your KV ensures you don’t fall behind.
  6. Corporate Shifts: A visual refresh might be in order during significant changes in company structure, focus, or other foundational elements
  7. Improved effectiveness: If your current Key Visual isn’t resonating with your audience or attracting attention, an update could enhance its impact.

Keep in mind that updating Key Visuals is a strategic move that requires careful planning and design. It’s important to find the right balance between preserving brand recognition and giving it a fresh look. Next, see an example of a KV upgrade for one of our clients along with the steps involved in the process.

Example. Key Visual for Highline Beta

Highline Beta is a hybrid corporate venture studio and VC firm. We were tasked with a website redesign for them. Our team quickly realized that the original brand system didn’t give us enough visual material to work with, so we decided to create a new KV. 

We came up with the idea of ‘Building Blocks’, custom 3D illustrations, that demonstrate the company’s values — ​​Partnership, Transparency, Ownership, Grit, and Adaptability. This concept brought the nature of their business to life — helping corporate clients innovate. We believe that innovation comes in different shapes and sizes, it’s about combining different concepts (that may or may not fit), trying different things, and experimenting in order to create something that hasn’t existed before. We also use infographics metaphors such as pie charts, and histograms, because they would speak directly to corporate clients, as well as communicate the idea of growth — the main reason why companies would partner with Highline Beta.

Check out the full Highline Beta case study.

Steps for Refreshing Key Visuals

Here are some steps you can take when refreshing Key Visuals:

  1. Audit: Review the current brand identity, gauge audience response, study design trends and identify elements in need of a refresh.
    Design: Develop a new key visual element that captures the brand’s personality (3D illustration, graphic pattern, symbol, or other visual element).
  2. Integrate: Strategize how the new Key Visual will align with current identity elements (logo, colour palette and fonts).
  3. Implement: Update the visual materials associated with your brand (website, social media, promotional materials and other communication channels).
  4. Educate: Make sure your marketing department, designers, and everyone involved understands and uses the new Key Visual according to the updated identity.
  5. Follow-up: Ensure your brand identity remains consistent and relevant over time. Continue to monitor audience feedback and respond to market changes.

Updating just Key Visual allows you to create a look and feel for your brand, while still preserving recognition and connecting with your existing audience.

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