The internet may have changed the way we interact with brands, but one thing is clear, digital is here to stay. Digitalisation of the internet, smartphones, websites, search and social media has evolved the buying process and, in turn, how businesses think and act. Fundamentals and human nature remain the same - customers still want a clear brand promise and a valuable offer - but the way we research, buy and consume products has adapted, along with the touchpoints available for brands to engage prospects.
Today, many businesses claim to embrace digital wholeheartedly, positioning their online offering as a core component to success. However, the relationship between their online and offline offering is often considered separately, inevitably creating a disconnected outcome. It has now become essential for brands to integrate their digital offering into their branding. Those who don’t are likely to stand out as outdated among the competition.
Throughout this blog, I will be talking through the top considerations when uplifting your brand to digital. Considering these factors can help you translate your brand identity online, ensuring a strong omnichannel strategy and a consistent message is delivered to your target audience across all mediums.
Why do brands fail to consider their digital offering within their guidelines?
Over the past decade, the digital world has evolved in a remarkable way. There are a variety of factors, including technological breakthroughs and the rise of social media, that cause brands to evolve.
However, many companies developed their brand guidelines prior to the rise of digital and have failed to keep up with advancements as they have occurred. This has resulted in branding that doesn’t have the flexibility required for representing a brand online. Even modern companies who place digital at their core still make the mistake of considering offline and online as separate entities. Although digital and offline offerings have their own set of parameters, brands should still take a fluid, holistic approach.
What should you consider?
By neglecting to consider your digital offering from the outset, you risk being left with an irrelevant and outdated online presence. Considering these factors will help you create a brand that can thrive in the online world.
Will your logo work as an avatar on social channels?
Your logo and iconography must be recognisable and visible across all mediums, including smaller sizes such as web favicons. This should be reviewed within the branding and design process to consider factors like block colours and filled shapes or letters. A mixture of different gradients and thin outlines may be harder to view from smaller sizes making it difficult to distinguish your brand from others. For example, take a look at the app icons on your phone, there’s a good chance they have been designed using two core colours and a filled shape or letter to create a bold and memorable logo/icon.
Is your website accessible?
Accessibility in digital design involves building experiences for everyone, including those of us with visual, speech, physical, auditory or cognitive disabilities. As designers, developers and marketers, we need to ensure the websites we create are inclusive for all.
A key consideration within your branding is to make certain your colours adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Colour accessibility allows people with visual impairments or colour vision deficiencies to interact with and enjoy digital experiences in the same way as anyone else. This could be as simple as ensuring there is enough contrast between the text and its background colour or indicating important information in more than one way. For example, there could be another indicator such as an icon or linked text.
Icons are an effective way of aiding content on a website by making it more accessible. This ensures individuals who cannot easily distinguish colours will still be able to understand and interact with your content. Use this checklist to help build accessibility into your processes, no matter what stage you’re at in your web project.
Print has been the design medium of choice for decades
Print has been around a lot longer than digital making it a more established choice, with many brands still using it alongside their online offering. However, using the guidelines created for print can put pressure on digital agencies aiming to find creative and unique methods to translate this on an online medium. Forcing this can result in poor brand and user experience or a conflicting aesthetic which doesn’t flow. As such, it’s important to consider your digital offering as an integral feature of your brand guidelines and tweak based on the medium being designed for.
Not all agencies specialise in digital design
Digital as a medium is interactive and embraces animation. It’s important to remember not all agencies are specialised in digital design and therefore, can fail to acknowledge how different digital platforms and devices impact the final presentation of your brand.
Using a reactive design process, we ensure the needs of our clients and their customers are always placed at the core. Running UX workshops, we gain a real understanding of exactly who your audience are and create detailed user personas to build the optimum online experience for those individuals. Informed by this research, we are capable of shaping website aesthetics through imagery, colour and typography. Using visual design, these aspects can be seamlessly blended to present users with an online experience that not only looks good but performs how they want it to as well.
How will weak browsers cope with large format imagery?
To promote content that provides a positive user experience, Google considers site speed in its ranking algorithm. Ensure your website photography is compressed so it doesn’t affect page load speeds. For example, if a user is browsing on mobile or not using WiFi, images taking too long to load can take a huge toll on their user experience. If your page takes longer than a few seconds to load, your visitors may get frustrated and leave. Although there is more to improving site speed than compressing your images, using applications such as Cloudinary, you can automatically optimise the size of your photos within your CMS.
Are you leveraging motion as much as possible?
Motion is an important design tool for your user experience and translating your brand messaging online. Just like typography, colour and digital graphics, movement, animation and transitions can communicate your offering, bringing your branded elements to life on screen. Motion has become a big player in website design trends allowing you to create a user experience that leaves a long-lasting impression on your audience. When done effectively, it has the potential to take your audience through a narrative that may have otherwise been ignored.
Creating a streamlined brand experience across each outlet can be a challenging task, but not impossible. Many of our clients have an expansive audience with varying needs and requirements which, when left unconsidered, can lead to notable brand inconsistencies and a poor user experience. Through bespoke customisation, premium wood flooring company, Havwoods, were able to translate their physical shopping experience onto their website through new, engaging functionalities. The key is to start by determining the message before deciding how your brand will be deployed across various platforms and channels to help users reach their desired goal. As a result, you will have improved their path to conversion through a more enjoyable, streamlined solution.
If you have any questions regarding developing brand guidelines from a digital perspective or how to adapt your brand for digital devices, contact our team today.