Ecommerce Design / Enterprise Ecommerce / How to Sell Online

How to Create a Captivating Brand Style; Lessons from Anthropologie, Vans, Aesop

Poppie Pack / 4 min read

Successful brands of today have their own unique styles. They have formed a following and built recognition based on an excellent product, paired with a smart marketing strategy. This strategy includes a visual personality and captivating style that’s been targeted at a specific audience. In this blog post, we look at examples of companies that are doing this well, and discuss how you can build a captivating and engaging brand for your business.

Choose an Appropriate Style for Your Business

Your customers need to be able to relate to your individual aesthetic, with a “that’s so me” reaction when they see an Instagram or Facebook post. Think about how they will feel when they see your graphics and imagery, as well as how they respond and connect to your visual identity.

1 Choose an appropriate style for your business_anthropologie

Anthropologie is an American clothing, accessories, gifts and home décor company. It was created for women to find objects that reflect their style, from art and fashion to interiors and entertaining. Its style is rustic, town and country. They have captivated their audience using beautifully curated imagery of dining tables, how-to guides and lovely products with their creative touch. You can see how simple stylistic choices can impact the overall aesthetic and effect of a brand. Consider stylistic choices like this when it comes to your own business, especially if your online store is catering to a lifestyle market.

Stay Relevant and Keep Your Marketing Customer-Centric

Think about what your audience likes and what they want — this is the ultimate decider on how to visually market your business. You need to attract a certain person. Understand their style. Put together a profile of your potential customer. Seriously, write down everything you know about them. How old are they? What car do they drive? What sport do they play? What kind of coffee do they drink? What do they do on the weekend? This will help you to create a graphic style specific to your audience.

2 Stay relevant_Vans

Vans shoes are a cult favorite. Highly popular among the younger generation since 1966, they have a proven following that continues to remain loyal for years. Vans captures the attention of their audience with bright, fun and eclectic style marketing. Bright colors, in-action photographs and a mix of vintage and creative filters appeal to teenagers, who often remain fans of the brand long into their adult lives.

Use Consistent Design Elements

If you want to really stand out above the rest and form a following that reflects the style of your brand, you need to remain consistent. Curate a unique yet relatable design aesthetic that people will begin to associate with your brand. You might apply monochrome filters to all your imagery, or you could use big, bold typefaces to grab the attention of your audience. Whatever it is, the style you choose must be cohesive across all your marketing material.

3 Consistent use of design elements_highline

The High Line Hotel, for example, employs consistent monochrome imagery teamed with a black/charcoal and white color palette to create a strong contrast style. Here are some other techniques you can try yourself to reflect this style:

  • Use a solid frame around your text. This is a great way to contain your content. It also draws the eye to the text (meaning the customer will read what you put within the box) and adds an easy-to-recognize brand feature that services similarly to a CTA.
  • Choose one main font and then a secondary, complimentary font. Choose a limited number of fonts and stick with them to create brand consistency. In the example above, League Spartan has been applied as the dominant typeface. It is a modern, classic sans serif and sits well in conjunction with the other brand assets. PlayFair Display Italic has been used as the secondary typeface. Its elegant shape offsets Spartan, while giving the brand itself some added prestige.
  • Color contrast is appealing to the human eye. This allows you to play around with the colors just enough to be sure that your most important asset or text is quickly and easily seen and read. In the example, white and dark backgrounds have been used to increase contrast and give the graphics some space. Together, these elements create a high impact look representative of the upbeat and fashion forward New York City culture.

Be Original

It’s easy to follow the pack, but there’s a difference between being inspired and being the same. Find your point of difference and use it to your advantage. Create an original style that sets you leagues apart from the rest and will create noise within your industry.

4 Be original_Aesop

One example of a brand that’s created its own unique style is Aesop, a modern skincare company developed in Melbourne, Australia, nearly 30 years ago. Founder Dennis Paphitis has developed clean and aesthetic product packaging to ensure that every point of contact his customer has is cohesive to the brand style. Aesop’s medicinal-style brown bottles with one color label follows through to their marketing material as well as their minimalist, chic interiors of their stores.

This cult style created in 1987 has become even cooler over time. Aesop claims to sell a lifestyle as well as skincare: “We advocate the use of our products as part of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of stimulating literature,” reads Aesop’s website. This simplistic, wholesome approach to life garners the brand a loyal following and drives all company decisions from marketing to product design. This provides customers a cohesive brand experience and product that fits naturally within their lives.

Collaborate with Equally Captivating Brands

Not everyone is a competitor –– so make friends with the cool kids on the fringe. Create a strategic and clever marketing campaign by collaborating with another brand to widen your audience and diversify your following. The best collaborations are ones that have the “wow that’s cool” effect on their customer, keeping in mind the consumer base of both brands.

5 Collaborate_H&M Versace

The fashion industry is a particularly good example of how companies in the same category but with differing brands can collaborate to drive awareness, sales and even virality. H&M, a women’s basics brand, has successfully teamed up with more high-end fashion houses like Versace, as well as with icons like Madonna. Together, they have created targeted clothing lines dedicated specifically to a market audience wanting high-end fashion at an affordable, fast-fashion price.

In all, captivating brand style is a strategic marketing tactic that few brands master. But, it isn’t an impossible feat. Choose the right vibe for your brand based on the interests of your target audience, and be sure you prepare for not only their current interests, but their future ones as well. Keep in mind, too, that the best brand styles are most often those that seem effortless. Less is always more –– but consistency is key. The goal here is to create a visual identity that will reflect your audience. This isn’t just your brand’s aesthetic. This is your brand’s personality.

For more insight, download a free copy of Canva’s Guide to Branding and Design.


Poppie Pack

Poppie Pack

Poppie Pack is Canva's senior graphic designer and is responsible for the beautiful designs you’ll see on Canva’s social media channels. She has just written a guide to design and branding with tips on creating your own brand. Download it for free on Canva’s design school.

View all posts by Poppie Pack
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