With the foundational architecture of your brand’s identity in place – that is, your story and your logo – it’s time to start painting the house, picking out the furniture, and growing flowers in the garden.
Picking a graphic style for your brand is one of the most creatively stimulating phases of the brand building process. This is where you’ll make some bold upfront decisions about the personality of your brand and, in turn, the market that it will appeal to. Your brand will begin to glow with its own particular energy.
The bull’s eye we’re aiming for here, lies right in between the expected and the unexpected:
Creating an instant impression of what your brand is all about, by using certain conventions that we’re familiar with.
…but avoiding the trap of sameness, and ensuring that your brand is distinct in its category.
For example: we might associate a real estate brand with a corporate style.
But a savvy new agency with a playful aesthetic might seem more approachable; more in touch with the younger generation they’re targeting.
The flip side to consider, is that if your brand style is so bold and playful it creates an impression of being wild and reckless, we might hesitate in making our life’s largest financial investment with you.
Striking that balance isn’t always easy, but we’re here to show you how to think about your brand’s identity strategically and creatively.
There are three goals here:
Pick a broad graphic style category that feels most suited to your brand: something that doesn’t just look cool, it helps to establish the right context and industry.
Use these aesthetic guard-rails to narrow down decisions when it comes to selecting the graphics, colors, and fonts that will add up to your unique brand identity.
Curate your selected graphics, and save these in Over for easy access in ongoing design work.
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And there are two simple reasons why it’s worth taking the time to do:
Careful consideration in the selection of your graphics at this stage will ultimately make your design process faster and easier. Slow down at the start, to speed up at the end.
It’s not only about making your life easier, it’s about developing consistency with your brand’s visual identity. If you’re switching up your graphics every two weeks, customers have to constantly rewire their associations with your style. By keeping things consistent, people will become familiar with your brand on sight. Over time, they’ll feel like they know you. Consistency and reliability are traits that define trustworthy people, and the same is true for your brand.
This definitely doesn't mean locking yourself into a very specific aesthetic. We’re setting up guidelines for your brand, not laws. Your graphic style should be able to expand, evolve, and adapt to different situations. But these will be variations of a consistent theme, and not knee-jerk departures from the brand identity you’re building over time.
You should absolutely keep an eye out for new trends that you can incorporate into your designs, to keep things fresh and relevant. But make sure they work within your world, and don’t get distracted by every shiny new thing on your Instagram feed.
Building a brand identity is a process. You need to commit to it, and stay the course to ultimately reap the benefits.
Defining a brand style
Labels can be problematic, but they’re useful in this instance as we look at some of the big aesthetic categories for your brand’s style. You might ultimately describe your unique style as “Neo-Glitchwave-Industrial” or “Maximalist-Tropical-Psychedelia”… but we need to start with the broad strokes.
Style is of course subjective, but there are some universally agreed upon categories that – if nothing else – help designers and clients communicate with each other (“Something more… playful, and a little less… corporate.”)
It’s also useful to know how we categorize our content in the Over app, so you can find what you’re looking for easily. We typically refer to ten key design themes, or graphic styles, from which almost any variation or combination is possible.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these, with some ideas about the characteristics of each style, which industries they suit best, and what we have available in Over for you to stock up your brand’s design toolkit.
While there’s definitely logic involved in making these decisions, your eye will almost certainly gravitate instinctively towards the graphic design style that feels right for your brand. Trust these instincts.
Think: High impact, high contrast, clean, geometric, super-sized.
If being COMPLETELY UNMISSABLE in a really contemporary, easy-on-the-eye kinda way sounds like a good design strategy for you, allow us to suggest Bold as your brand style of choice. As the name implies, big chunky shapes, graphics, and colors form the foundation of this aesthetic. But Bold is a kind of personality too: an individual (or a brand) with confidence, charisma, and vision.
Designs aren’t very complex, but words and shapes can be super-sized, dominating the composition. The aesthetic is striking above all else, typically quite geometric, with very deliberate composition. Impactful photographic imagery is often part of the package.
Typography plays a big role here, frequently stealing the show altogether with‘text as design’. Bold fonts tend to be from the Sans-Serif family: Fat, Wide, Bold Condensed or Display fonts that sometimes have design detail, like inlaid textures or patterns. As such, Bold styling more often than not revolves around unmissable messaging.
Unlike the ‘Street’ style, which has a big overlap with similar industries, Bold keeps things clean, refined, and hard-edged. Texture, fading, and imperfection aren’t big features of the style, and it is better explored through flat, high contrast color expression. There is no sense of nostalgia; Bold is of the here and now.
Anyone can be bold – but these are the industries most likely to adopt a brave, striking aesthetic reflective of their progressive attitude:
Urban lifestyle brands
Urban fashion brands
Art & Design sectors
Product retail industry
When picking out graphics for your Bold brand style, think abstract shapes and high contrast patterns. Avoid literal objects, detailed illustrations, and textures if possible. You can create simple patterns by playfully stacking basic shapes in high contrast colors. Using shapes asclean, slick, stickers is a noteworthy trend within the Bold domain.
If a Bold graphic style feels like the right fit for your brand, the easiest way to get started is with our Be Bold layout collection in Over. It’s all set up for multiple platforms, in one cohesive style. You can switch out the fonts, colors, and imagery to suit your brand – but the professional design work has already been done for you.
Classical graphic design typically revolves around grids, margins, and baselines. Geometry is the framework that holds everything together, in a precisely measured way. Fluid, organic design rebels against this formalism with a more intuitive approach, evoking a feeling of harmony and flow; more natural than mechanical. If you’re seeking out a very expressive design style – more spontaneous than rational – then you’ve arrived at the right chapter in our story.
The organic brand style can draw on a very handmade aesthetic, calling to mind the texture and curvaceousness of the living world (think pebbles, leaves, and rivers). For brands moving in this direction, your color palette will inevitably reference nature, and draw from the tones of sand, rock, forests, and the ocean.
Fonts in this dimension would typically be loose, flowing, or handwritten. Brush scripts, handmade lettering, and textured fonts also make sense here, with imperfection being a hallmark of this visual style. It’s not a bad idea to pick an expressive organic font for headlines, and pair this with a simple, legible sans-serif for copy in your designs.
The organic style can also be applied in a more vibrant ‘pop’ mode, presenting as fluid, overlapping shapes in flat, bright colors. In this more clean-cut approach, your fonts would probably be drawn from the same collections as a Bold or Modern aesthetic.
Industries that you’re most likely to see playing in the world of Organic graphic styling, include
Retail - crafted, product
Alternative health & wellness
Wellness professionals: physio, nutritionist etc.
You’re spoilt for choice with graphics in this department. We’re fully stocked up on a wide range of shapes, illustrations, and decorative flair to customize your brand’s identity in an Organic style. Beyond our range of fluid shapes and patterns, handmade doodles, lines, and sketches make excellent complementary graphics.
Earlier this year we collaborated with Morgan Harper Nichols on an artist edition layout collection for Over. Morgan’s symphony of painted shapes and lines in bright, earthy tones, paired with handwritten lettering, makes this collection a wonderful example of the Organic brand style. Why not use this as the basis for your own visual identity, adding your distinct fonts, graphics, and color palette?
Modern doesn’t only mean ‘contemporary’, or the opposite of ‘old-fashioned’. In the aesthetic sense of the word, this brand style references a very specific time period, between the 1940s and the 1960s, when a clean-cut, restrained, and functional graphic design style rose to popularity.
Today, Modern design is constantly evolving, but some of its central characteristics remain rooted in the ‘new’ ideas of this era. More contemporary interpretations use a clean, crisp layout as the foundation of a design, and layer shapes, vivid colors, or synthetic textures on top of this, as a point of contrast.
Modern uses blocking of color and strong imagery with highly legible text. The typefaces can be structured Display Sans Serifs or Serifs, but they should always be legible and strategically placed. The 'white space' is less than that seen on minimal aesthetics, thus steering them apart.
Colors tends to be neutral, mixed with contrasted tones like charcoal/black or a stronger hue. You will normally see one color as the accent, mixed in with white or neutral tones.
Industries that would typically lean towards a Modern style include:
High end product/retail
High-end Real Estate
Hospitality (eg. Hotels)
Business: Finance, Legal
If the clean, contemporary, easy-on-the-eye aesthetic of Modern design is the graphic style for your brand, here’s a curated selection of Graphic Packs we recommend you start with. Bear in mind that some subtle graphics – like high contrast patterns or delicate texture – could also add visual interest to an otherwise structured Modern design.
'Monochrome' is a brilliant example of a unified brand identity in a Modern style. We’ve created this layout collection for you to bypass all the tricky design decisions, and simply switch out your graphics, fonts, and images. Within minutes you could have a cross-platform campaign ready to go. Start to imagine the perception of your brand such a professional look and feel would create…
‘Less is more’ is the Minimalist mantra. It’s often said that the best design is invisible, and nowhere is this more true than when working in this style. Design doesn’t try to steal the show – it’s chiefly about showcasing the content, and a Minimal style sets up a subtle but highly efficient framework for this.
The overriding look and feel is clean, crisp and timeless. Most Minimal design includes a large amount of empty space in the composition, attempting to focus the eye rather than allowing it to explore the page. There’s a ‘no-frills’ attitude that suggests confidence in your offering, valuing quality over quantity. Your brand comes across as focused, with clarity of vision.
The heart of every minimalist design is a typeface that’s clean, and easy to read. A contemporary take on minimalism would usually rely on simple Sans-Serif fonts, or perhaps one of the Delicate Serifs that are so on-trend right now. Classical Roman serifs would feel right at home in a more elegant or luxurious brand style.
In line with maintaining focus on the core message, and transmitting a feeling of visual tranquility, color palettes are very limited and subdued in this expression. Hues tend to be natural, or pastel, with subtle contrast created through darker and lighter tones of the same color.
The minimal aesthetic is for brands that want something simple but memorable; where the content is more of the hero than the design style. Categories where you’re likely to see this style dominate include:
Beauty & Skincare
Health and Wellness
On a Minimalist canvas, graphics ought to be used sparingly, and with great consideration. Clutter is a big no-no, so you’re likely to only use one or two simple shapes, lines, or markings as an accent in a spacious design. Repeating patterns are generally a bit overwhelming in this style. If you’re looking for illustrations, think thin, hand-drawn sketches and doodles.
Our 'Retail Modern Minimal' layout collection in Over is a great example of how a Minimalist visual style can be used to develop a slick, coherent, and professional brand identity. You can easily customize this professional design with your own colors, fonts, and imagery, and create your own Minimal masterpiece in minutes.
You’ll probably know your brand style is destined to be Playful at the very sight of the word. It instantly conjures up the right ideas: a sense of fun, humor, and spontaneous expression. If yours is a playful brand, this is likely already woven into the DNA of your product, your company, and your view of the world.
Brands aimed at kids are obvious candidates here, but a Playful aesthetic in design has universal appeal, and could be envisioned in almost any industry. Whether it’s cryptocurrency or frozen yoghurt, this brand style is for those companies that want to be seen as friendly, approachable and fun. It puts people at ease, and can make dreaded adulting necessities (like insurance, finance, travel, real estate etc.) less daunting, and even appealing.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Playful is synonymous with ‘silly’. Some of the world’s biggest brands opt for this approach in their brand identity, or multi-million dollar campaigns. Childlike expression has been a surging trend in both art and fashion for a while now; overriding structured designs with spontaneous patterns, marks and doodles that represent unbridled creative energy.
This visual style is synonymous with handwritten and rounded typefaces. Rejecting ‘machine-made’ typography in favor of a more handmade look and feel is indicative of the spirit underlying this style; one that celebrates humanity, authenticity, and simplicity. It’s a far more emotive approach, connecting through feeling more than logic. Beyond communicating a message, it ought to be fun to look at, and perhaps even ignite a teeny spark of joy.
There aren’t too many hard rules in the color department here, but it goes without saying that brighter, vivid hues would be the order of the day. There’s also more license to pick out a wider color palette than with other styles. In fact, it’s often the experimentation of unusual color combinations dancing across your canvas, that adds the playfulness to a Playful design.
Again, don’t think too literally here. A Playful visual style is broadly applicable, but some of the most obvious industries that might consider this colorful, spontaneous, and energetic approach to their brand identity would be:
Babies & Kids
Food & Drinks
Arts, DIY and Crafts
If you’re looking for graphics to build up your Playful brand identity, your biggest problem is probably going to be one of choice. A Playful style really opens itself up to using graphics as decorative elements that add energy, and curiosity to your design… and we have thousands. Collage is one option to get playful with diverse graphics. Illustrations often make sense here, but whittle it down to one style suited to your specific flavor of playfulness – be that cute, simplified, realistic, sketchy, or abstract.
Think: Raw, real, rough, gritty, grunge.
The culture of rebellion in its many guises – from punk to hip-hop to vaporwave – forms the foundation of the Street aesthetic. Stylistically, it’s a very broad church that caters to a huge range of brands in the music, fashion, and lifestyle domains, and is thus highly susceptible to trend cycles. It’s hard to pin down this style, because it’s defined by constant evolution.
There are of course some overarching characteristics, and these tend to orbit around what the Street style is rebelling against. Pixel-perfect precision and classical graphic design ideals have little place in the Street style playbook. Designers who work in this visual style often strive to distort, fade, warp, or deconstruct their imagery – moving away from perfection and not towards it. Wilder variations of Street style might even go so far as to be considered anti-design.
The goal is a kind of ‘beautiful chaos’; compositions that intrigue us because of their unconventional complexity. Color palettes are defined by a willingness to experiment, and stand out with striking, unexpected combinations. This is where you’re most likely to see neon or synthetic hues, often swirling with energy.
You’ll want to pick out a couple of unique Display fonts to hero your collection. Typography in this domain doesn’t whisper – it shouts. Bold, chunky, warped, and textured are the adjectives we’d be looking at. You could even consider something as dramatic as an 18th century blackletter font.
Unsurprisingly, Street style is popular with the vanguards of street culture: artists, musicians, magazines, bars. It’s also a great option for any brand with a rock ‘n roll edge, including but not limited to:
Urban/Streetwear Fashion brands
Bars & Clubs
In terms of curating your graphics collection in Over, a Street brand identity would begin by delving into our wide array of analogue textures – things like film frames, dust and grain, light leaks, plastic wrapping, glued poster, wrinkled paper, gritty gradients, or digital glitches, to degrade your design beautifully. Playfully layering your design with stickers and barcodes, textured illustrations, fluid shapes, and retro graphics is appropriate in this domain.
They say elegance is something you either have, or you don’t have. But they also say that perception is reality, and with Over, it’s super easy to wrap your brand in an Elegant style for the world to see it that way. Borrowing traits from other categories, Elegance finds middle ground between classicism and modernity: Timeless, but very much in tune with the here and now; Luxurious, but avoiding any excess; Minimalist, but unafraid of some flair.
Restraint is important in this design style. Well balanced compositions reflect a brand or an individual in control, with a clear vision and attention to detail. Nothing that doesn’t need to be on the page isn’t there, and everything that is – every letter, every image, every color – is absolutely gorgeous. If your brand story has words like ‘quality’, ‘sophisticated’, or ‘premium’ in it, then Elegant is a likely candidate for your brand’s graphic style.
Your color palette would be minimal here, but unlike the almost invisibly delicate tones of the Minimalist style, your hues could be a little richer or deeper. Subtle textures wouldn’t be out of place either – nothing too dramatic, but perhaps alluding to quality materials like handmade paper, marble, gold leaf, or crystal. Monochrome (black and white) arguably works best in an Elegant mode.
An Elegant font collection would almost certainly revolve around Serif fonts… probably not the classical Roman variety, but something with an expressive twist, like Delicate Serifs, or Didones, both of which are wildly on-trend right now. A slender script font could be a useful addition too.
Industries that might be best suited to an Elegant graphic style include:
In an Elegant visual identity, think of your graphics as jewelry complementing a little black dress. Too much is tacky, but the perfect piece in the perfect position simply changes everything. Gold looks delicious in this style, either on black, white, or pastel backgrounds. Subtle floral patterns or illustrations invoke the natural world, and leafy shadows can breathe soft realism into your scene.
The 'All That Glitters' layout collection in Over is a stunning example of an Elegant brand identity, all wrapped up and ready to go across multiple platforms. You can personalize this professional design in minutes, by simply replacing any fonts, graphics and images with your own. No kidding, it’s that easy.
‘Corporate’ is synonymous with professionalism. We tend to use the word when we’re referencing big businesses, companies, and firms: corporations. For institutions where trust, rationality and expertise is paramount, a clear and direct design approach, without much visual flamboyance, makes all the sense in the world.
This kind of brand identity isn’t only for banks and law firms though. Corporate styling is equally useful for the little guy who wants to create a first impression of trustworthiness and professionalism – regardless of industry. You might not be on the cover of Forbes magazine just yet, but remember that your identity is about how you want to be perceived, so why not dress the part?
A corporate style tends to lean on tradition, alluding to the idea of continuity. It’s unsurprising then that variations on classical Serif typefaces dating back to the Roman era, remain the most popular in this style.
Being as restrained as it is, subtlety is key when it comes to colors, patterns, and graphics. It’s often the tiniest little textural or color nuance that pops subtly from a neutral design, which separates middle-management from the top executives (to use corporate terminology). This also communicates a sense of attention to detail, that adds to the perception of professionalism.
Industries that you’re most likely to see adopt a Corporate brand style include:
If you reckon yours is the kind of brand that looks good in a three-piece suit with a fresh shave, then we have a wide range of graphics to complement your Corporate aesthetic. Here are a few examples of the packs we have in our library, to tempt you to dive in and explore the hundreds of options we have in-app.
You can try out 'The New Black' layout collection as starting point for your Corporate styled brand identity.
If trends are like waves on the shore, coming in and going out, then Classic design is the ocean. Essential graphic design principles have remained steadfast for centuries, simply because they work so well. They captivate us, effortlessly. It is as though our brains are hardwired to decode them.
Design does indeed have a gold standard, and its persistence over time is the proof. It might be said that all styles originate from this paradigm: Modern or Elegant designs don’t stray very far from it, whereas the Street aesthetic is defined by its reaction to it. Classic design foregrounds fluency in design’s secret language, and should be executed with a clear purpose, learned discipline, and masterful craft.
While some might think Classic is a safe option, we’d argue that going timeless is a bold move that asserts prestige in your category. Your brand isn’t just a passing fad, it’s here to stay, and your impeccable visual identity makes that apparent.
Any color can be incorporated into this style, but harmony and balance should prevail over expressionism. Pick out a limited palette of natural hues that complement each other, and the photographs in your designs (use our Color Picker tool to select specific colors in your image). Grounded tones are particularly on trend right now, and work beautifully in a Classic style.
Timeless fonts need only tick two boxes: precision, and legibility. You’ll more than likely be drawn towards the broader Serif font family, but there are countless nuances that give each typeface its own personality. Didones and Delicate Serifs are on the rise, and are both quintessentially timeless.
Timeless brand styling is basically agnostic, and can be used for almost any brand with a design-forward persona. You’re likely to encounter it in industries such as:
There’s nothing more timeless than nature, and perhaps it’s for this reason that botanical, organic patterns and illustrations work so effortlessly in this style. Flowers have been used as decorative elements throughout history – from Samurai armor, to Dutch still life painting – and persist as iconic graphics to this day. But you’ll need to narrow it down way more than that when selecting your brand’s graphics, since we have hundreds of diverse options in Over.
The easiest way to wade into the ocean of Timeless design styles, is to begin with one of our layout collections in Over – a full kit of professionally designed templates on multiple platforms, ready to edit-and-go in minutes. Look out for 'Cover Story' as a great example of a Classic template, and customize it with your brand’s fonts, colors, graphics, and images.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Design can be an invisible backdrop to your product or your service, but it can also strongly reinforce a desired association. In the case of luxury brands, a brand identity flecked with gold, or carved in marble, will make it instantly apparent that your offering is only for a select few. In short, it’s easy enough to make your brand look super-duper high end.
Bear in mind that Luxury needn’t feel exclusive to the point of being alienating. It can also project a sense of warmth, comfort, or sanctuary – like curling up under very expensive linen on a very luxurious and comfortable mattress.
Don’t confuse luxury with excess – that can end up being garish. Restraint and very careful attention to detail is the true hallmark of a Luxury design style. Building upon a classical, even Minimalist framework, ornate motifs don’t scream for attention… but when you notice them, the intricacy and consideration is unmistakable.
A Luxury design color palette is often based on physical substance. More specifically, it draws from the appearance and texture of the world’s rarest materials: gold, silver, sapphire, emerald, pearl, onyx, marble, red wine, velvet…
Very classical typefaces work well in a Luxury visual style, since there’s an inherent association with antiquity and tradition. Ornate scripts, calligraphy, and cursive fonts are often part of the Luxury package, but these ought to feel very delicate and precise, rather than spontaneously handwritten.
Almost every sector will have premium players, and a Luxury brand identity could bolster their reputation for sophistication. We’ve seen brilliant examples of Luxury branding in all of these industries:
Your graphic kit for a Luxury brand would invariably look towards incorporating luxurious textures, like gold, pearl, and marble. These could even be blended into your text. Ornate motifs from the very luxurious Art Nouveau era also make for sophisticated flourishes, and frames. Intricate, delicate, repeating patterns can be useful here, like the imported wallpaper in a 5-star hotel.