UX design has a significant impact on brand consistency. A product’s visual aesthetic and usability are often the first thing people notice and, therefore, must relate to the brand and create a strong first impression.
Brand consistency in UX design goes beyond using a brand logo, correct colors, and fonts. Designers must create an experience that mirror’s the company’s image, makes sense for the product, and appeal to the target audience. This article explores the importance of brand consistency in UX design and how designers can create on-brand product experiences.
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What is Brand Consistency?
Brand consistency refers to how a company delivers consistent messaging and stays true to its core brand values across every touchpoint. This consistency relates to everything from visual design and copywriting to how employees engage with customers or solve problems.
Brand Consistency in UX Design
Design and UX are vital for brand consistency because these are components customers see and experience when engaging with a product or service. A company can have an excellent name, slogan, logo, brand messaging, etc., destroyed by a poor user experience.
Why Does Brand Consistency Matter?
A brand gives a company human-like characteristics, making it easier for customers to relate and engage. Here are several reasons why design leads and stakeholders must prioritize brand consistency in UX.
Reason #1: Building Trust
If you meet someone and they tell you they stand for one thing, but their actions contradict this, you might become suspicious. If you notice more of these inconsistencies, you stop believing them and lose trust.
The same is true for brands, probably more so. People want to see consistency, even down to a product’s typography, colors, and microinteractions.
In a case study from the password manager, TeamPassword, Tony Caccavo, Director of Operations, stated, “Brand is essential in this market. Customers entrust us with sensitive information in their login records. Inconsistencies or an outdated design can cause some customers to question whether we are technologically up to date enough to keep that information secure. Front-end development builds trust and confidence in the backend performance.”
Reason #2: Strengthens Brand Recognition
Brand consistency enables customers to find your business and other products in app stores, social media, and physical locations. A great example is the global mega-brand Virgin.
Virgin competes successfully in multiple industries worldwide, including services, experiences, and physical and digital products. Loyal customers immediately recognize Virgin’s signature red and white branding–associated with its high-quality service delivery, playful nature, and friendly customer service.
Reason #3: Boosts Sales and Marketing Efforts
Strong brand consistency can have a significant impact on revenue, according to a Lucidpress study. The latest State of Brand Consistency Report found consistent branding can increase revenue by 33%–a trend that appears to be growing, as indicated by a 10% increase since Lucidpress’ 2016 report.
Reason #4: Design and Development Efficiency
Branding, or any design inconsistencies, result in design drift, bugs, rework, technical debt, project delays, etc. These inconsistencies lead to poor customer experiences, but they also create workflow and delivery inefficiencies that cost organizations valuable resources.
To overcome these design and development inefficiencies, companies build design systems, including brand guidelines, to ensure teams deliver a consistent user experience across all touchpoints.
How to Increase Brand Consistency Through UX Design
Much of brand consistency is about building trust. If your company’s actions contradict messaging, people lose confidence in the brand. Here are six tips to ensure products deliver a consistent brand message.
Build a Design System with a Brand Style Guide
Design systems solve several big problems for companies implementing them, most notably cohesion and consistency–for the product and workflows.
A comprehensive design system includes brand guidelines that help reinforce the organization’s messaging and brand identity. Design systems ensure every project delivers the same design language, using the same principles and component library, creating a consistent brand experience for users.
Universal Design Patterns
Design patterns create familiarity, reducing a product’s learning curve and human cognitive load. These universally recognizable patterns give products a foundational consistency to strengthen the brand.
Furthermore, when a product is easy to use, customers are more likely to use and recommend it, thus increasing brand trust and affinity.
Showcase Your Brand’s Voice & Tone Using Design
Like a product’s messaging and copy, the color palette and visual elements must represent the brand’s voice and tone. The best way to define these UI elements is by testing designs with potential customers.
UX design agency Divami does this by developing a brand’s personality based on UX research. When Divami designed Celes Care, “a specialized healthcare platform – For Women, By Women,” they wanted to create a feminine UI without using the stereotypical “all pink.” By testing the color scheme, the agency found a “soft, mellow” palette that, most importantly, end-users associated with the brand’s personality.
Internal vs. External Brand Consistency
Internal consistency refers to the user experience within a product, while external consistency includes a suite of products. While each product might differ slightly, designers must meet a high level of consistency between products.
Apple has a wide range of hardware and software, but the brand’s physical and digital design features leave no ambiguity about who made it. Apple’s design consistency across products strengthens its brand and customer loyalty.
This consistency is easier to manage when the organization designs, develops, and manufactures every product, but what happens with third-party marketplaces?
Products like Shopify, Salesforce, Atlassian, and others, rely on third-party apps to complement their core product(s). While every app offers different features and functionality, the product’s design system ensures each matches the core product.
For example, app developers must follow Shopify Polaris to ensure that every app in its marketplace meets Shopify’s guidelines (including branding) for content, design, components, and patterns. Even if someone uses multiple apps from different suppliers, it feels like one Shopify product.
Visual Design Consistency
Minor UI design details like spacing, sizing, layouts, colors, etc., can impact brand consistency. When these UI elements are consistent across all UIs, users can focus on completing tasks rather than thinking and searching for content and features.
Furthermore, designers must use consistent microinteractions, page transitions, and notifications that align with the brand’s voice and tone. Again, a design system can solve many of these issues, so user interfaces are always on-brand and consistent.
Transparency is a significant factor in building trust and brand affinity. Designers must make features simple and transparent so users can complete any task, even those that adversely impact the business, like unsubscribing or canceling a paid plan.
A product must always inform users of a financial incentive, like affiliate referrals, sponsors, third-party data sharing, etc. Designers must also avoid clickbait or deceptive links that ultimately damage trust and brand.
Increase Brand Consistency With UXPin Merge
Merge enables you to sync a component library from a repository to UXPin’s design editor, so designers use the same UI elements as engineers. Any changes to the repository automatically sync to UXPin, creating a single source of truth across the organization.
The design system team can give designers the freedom to change components via React props (or Args for our Storybook integration). They can also hardcode and restrict specific properties teams aren’t allowed to change, like brand assets, colors, typography, microinteractions, etc.–maintaining brand consistency across the organization for every product release.
Programing brand elements and core values into the design system mean product teams can focus on developing new products rather than worrying about small (yet critical) design decisions.
Merge also streamlines the design handoff process because engineers already have copies of the components in a repository. Furthermore, UXPin renders JSX code for each component’s props. Engineers simply copy/paste components from the library and any changes from UXPin to start front-end development.