Visual hierarchy is a fundamental design principle that plays a pivotal role in how viewers interpret and interact with your brand designs. It is the way that visual elements such as typography, images, colors, and layout are arranged to create a visual structure that directs the viewer’s attention.
Creating an effective visual hierarchy in your brand designs will make it easier for viewers to navigate and make sense of your content. It also reinforces the core message that you’re trying to communicate, allowing you to convey more information in a shorter amount of time.
The Basic Elements of Visual Hierarchy
There are three essential elements of visual hierarchy:
- Size: The size of a design element determines which elements draw the eye first. This is why headlines and titles are often larger than other text on a page.
- Position: By positioning elements in a particular way, you can guide viewers around the page. Using alignment and margin spacing to create visual paths will help structure your content.
- Contrast: The use of contrast helps make certain design elements be easily distinguishable from one another. Using a strong color contrast or pairing a bold typeface and light color can be used to emphasize certain points of your design.
Visual Hierarchy vs. Visual Equity
There is an important distinction between visual hierarchy and visual equity:
- Visual hierarchy is the arrangement of visual elements to create a clear structure and guide viewers’ attention.
- Visual equity, on the other hand, is the use of visual design elements to create a consistent and recognizable look across your brand designs.
Visual hierarchy and visual equity go hand in hand to ensure that viewers can easily interpret and interact with your brand designs. Both should be used to create a unified and coherent design that reinforces your brand message.
The Different Types of Visual Hierarchy
There are three main types of visual hierarchy:
- Scale-Based Hierarchy: This is the most common type of visual hierarchy, where elements are arranged by size and importance. This type of hierarchy is effective for quickly conveying information and making it easy to understand.
- Flow-Based Hierarchy: This type of hierarchy is based on the idea of guiding viewers through a design by using visual elements such as arrows and lines. This type of hierarchy is especially useful for telling stories or presenting complex information in a clear and organized way.
- Weight-Based Hierarchy: This type of hierarchy relies on the use of color, texture, and typography to create a sense of balance between elements. This type of hierarchy works best when you want to create a balanced and visually pleasing design.
It is important to note, however, that you are not confined to a single hierarchy type for your brand designs. You can combine different types of hierarchy to suit the needs and goals of your design.
For example, you can use scale-based hierarchy to draw the eye to important elements, and then switch to weight-based hierarchy when you want to add visual interest and depth.
6 Tips for Establishing Visual Hierarchy for Your Brand Designs
Creating an effective visual hierarchy for your brand designs requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Decide which elements are most important
Start by determining which elements are most essential to your design. Once you have established the hierarchy of importance, it will become easier to arrange the rest of the elements.
For example: If you’re designing a website, the hierarchy might be:
Headline > Navigation > Main Content > Secondary Content.
This can vary, of course, if you’re designing for a different purpose, so it’s important to consider the goals of your design when making these decisions.
2. Create emphasis: utilize contrast in colors and typography
As was mentioned, contrast is essential for making sure that the most important elements stand out. Use a strong contrast in colors and typography to create emphasis and draw the eye to certain elements that carry more importance than others.
For example: Use bold, large fonts for headlines and smaller, lighter fonts for body copy. Utilizing a strong color contrast can also be effective, especially for call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
3. Establish visual equity: leverage size variations and scale
Creating a consistent look across your brand designs helps reinforce the core message of your design and creates cohesiveness. Utilizing size variations and scale can help you achieve this.
For example: If your logo is large, use a smaller version of it for the navigational elements. This will help tie the different elements together and give your designs a more unified look.
4. Increase readability: incorporate white space
Too much information on a page can be overwhelming and difficult to process. Incorporating white space increases readability by giving viewers’ eyes a break and allowing them to focus on the important elements.
For example: Leave ample space between elements, or use a simple border to separate sections of your design.
5. Create a roadmap for viewers: utilize visual paths
Visual pathways can guide viewers around your design and make it easier to understand. These can be in the form of arrows, lines, or shapes that direct viewers’ attention to the important elements.
For example: Connect two sections of a page with a line or an arrow, or use shapes to emphasize certain elements. This will help viewers find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
6. Make connections clear: use alignment and proximity
In the same vein, alignment and proximity can be used to create a visually pleasing and orderly design that draws attention to important elements. By positioning elements close together, you can create a sense of unity and cohesiveness in your design.
For example: Align elements along the same axis or use a grid system to create a clean and organized design. This will help viewers easily identify the different elements and make connections between them.
Summing It Up
A well-executed visual hierarchy significantly contributes to a successful brand design. By leveraging the principles of scale, weight, contrast, and alignment — among many other elements — you can create an effective visual hierarchy that ensures your brand message is communicated clearly and effectively.
For more design tips, check out our blog at https://www.ilfusion.com/blog.