Have you ever thought about your research project as a brand? As a researcher, you might have come across the work of other research groups and institutions that publish their outputs with visual materials that have the same look and feel, effectively as a brand. What did you think about them? Did those materials stay with you?
Having a visual identity can help your research group or project stand out. If you are curious about how to create one, you are in the right place.
In this blog post, we explore why having a visual identity is useful for your research project, what elements it includes, and the steps to create it.
Make your research stand out
Having a visual identity enables you to seize the attention of your audience and leave a lasting impression. Memorable visuals increase the likelihood of your research being shared and discussed, thus expanding its impact. Here are three ways in which having a visual identity can help you promote your research project:
- Visual elements can transcend the technical language barrier that sometimes hinders research communication. By combining appealing and consistent visuals with accessible language, you can reach a wider range of audiences, including policymakers, educators, and the general public.
- Complex research findings can be challenging for non-experts to understand. Embedding your visual identity in well-crafted visuals that simplify intricate concepts, such as infographics, charts, and diagrams, enables broader audiences to grasp the essence of your work and recognise you as the source.
- Uniformity in visual materials across different mediums also projects a professional image. This conveys that you value effective communication and attention to detail, and reinforces the credibility of your work.
What is a visual identity?
By visual identity, we mean the visible representation of a brand or project. It encompasses the logo, colour palette, typography, and imagery that can be used on a website or even to design a physical space. The main objective of defining these elements is to convey a consistent and cohesive image. This makes the project easy to recognise and stand out.
Developing a visual identity for your research project
When the visual identity elements have been designed, they are usually collected in a branding guidelines document, which also outlines how these elements should – or should not – be used. This is very helpful in creating consistent materials in your outreach efforts. Several universities have their own institutional guidelines accessible to staff and students. If you want to produce visually engaging outreach materials and do not know how to begin, they are a good starting point.
Collaborating with a specialised research communication company can be very useful for creating a visual identity that truly resonates with the research project. At Research Retold we like to actively engage with researchers to understand their driving ideas and ensure their vision comes to life. That is why in our collaborations for creating a visual identity we make sure to involve the whole team. The steps we usually follow are:
- Initial consultation: We have a meeting to understand the core objectives, target audience, and key messages of the research project. This initial consultation sets the foundation for the visual identity development process.
- Design exploration: We discuss the insights from the initial consultation with our designers and research communicators who then explore various visual concepts and confer if they align with the research’s narrative and goals.
- Feedback: We involve researchers by asking for feedback and suggestions on the design concepts after our team has had an internal discussion. The iterative process continues until the visual identity aligns with the researchers’ vision.
- Brand guidelines document: Once the visual identity is finalised, we create a branding guidelines document. This document serves as a comprehensive reference, detailing the correct usage and application of all visual elements. In some cases, researchers have also asked to include editorial aspects, such as the tone of voice and citation format.
- Implementation and launch: With the brand guidelines, researchers can confidently disseminate their visual materials across various platforms, ensuring consistency and uniformity in their visual representation.
Here are four research projects for which we developed visual identities:
- New Frontiers in International Development Finance
- FoodHubs for Food Security
- Black Academia – Lifting the Barriers
The impact of research extends beyond academic circles. Creating a compelling visual identity through a brand guidelines document allows you to effectively communicate your research to diverse audiences, increase engagement, and foster credibility. By collaborating with a specialised research communication company, you can navigate the process with ease, ensuring your research project leaves a lasting impression and contributes meaningfully to your field and beyond.
If you would like to discuss the possibility of creating a visual identity for your research project or research group, we are an email away. Write to [email protected] to schedule a call. You can also read more about our additional services on our website. We look forward to collaborating with you!