Designing Guidelines to Migrate your Brand to the Digital Space: A 5-point Checklist
Written by Justine Lapointe
If your brand isn’t jiving well with users in the physical space, how do you think it will be perceived when you migrate it to the digital space? Building a successful brand that will thrive online starts by looking at it from every angle and poking holes in what you have BEFORE starting your web project. Don’t half-ass the solutions to issues that you have offline. They are bound to come up again in an even greater capacity online. If it’s broke offline - FIX IT FIRST!
When migrating your brand to the digital space there is a lot to consider. Of course, it’s of foremost importance to stay consistent and maintain the integrity of your brand. But have you fully considered how your brand will translate to the digital space? Does your brand guide fully integrate a digital brand identity? Does your brand consider the digital landscape both on mobile and desktop? That is, do you have web safe versions of your brand components? Does your digital brand speak to your target demographic and compel them to support it? Sometimes it pays to be your own worst critic – and to look at your brand with a new lens.
Consider all devices
Mobile is where it’s at these days. Your brand should have a strong presence on all mobile devices. Why? Most people nowadays own cell phones and have it on their person 24/7. That means we are most likely surfing the world wide web at some point throughout the day. While the most commonly used screen resolution remains 720×1280 (2x retina screens), it is important to consider that not everyone has access to the latest technology (or can afford to have it). Responsive web design on mobile devices should account for those who don’t upgrade at Apple’s pace.
Get to the point, fast.
People have limited attention spans. They want information that is concise and straight to the point. It is important that your brand has a clear voice, and that the information you share tells your story within 2-3 seconds. All too often we see clients put themselves before their customers. You (the client) are not your customer - keep this in mind. Your business goals aren’t the same as your user’s needs. It’s very important to understand that, and to position yourself according to your user’s motivations. Clarity is key.
Don't overwhelm your users
Allow your product to shine through the visual complexities of your brand. Overusing colour or other visual elements can make it harder for users to find what they’re looking for and ultimately may deter them from visiting your site in the future. The colour you choose to use online should only assist in telling your company’s story, not be relied on primarily for that purpose. The use of colour online should have a distinct purpose to help, not hinder, your design. Take time to create a brand standards guide that specifically considers all web essentials.
Design for digital
Digital brand guides are a must when building a successful brand. Not all mediums can be treated the same way and as a result, they need a different set of guidelines. You have to consider both usability and accessibility when choosing colours, typography, photography and your logo or brandmark for online use. Creating a digital brand guide ensures your site will stand the test of time.
Looking for examples?
A great example of a brand guide built for the digital space is Medium’s Brand Guidelines. They provide a full colour spectrum for both print and web, typography styles and appropriate line height, a grid mock-up, colour usage for both light and dark backgrounds, icons and button styles, how to use type, icons and buttons over an image, mobile and desktop mock-ups of various pages on their site.