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Designing for Digital

Digital-first branding has finally overtaken offline brand design

The world is finally switching on to the fact that designing for digital channels is an essential way to future-proof a business. Digital-first design is ‘second-nature’ to something that works even on the smallest screens, yet up until now, designers – including ourselves – have still experienced being handed a brand identity or design that simply doesn’t work in some digital channels and has to be totally recreated.

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Part of the problem is shaking of old ways of thinking and approaching design. Sometimes, it’s communicating the importance of digital to a wider organization, or gaining senior level buy-in that can be the problem. But what about historic brands created before the digital age? Well Coca-Cola and Audi are just some of the household names rethinking their branding from a digital-first perspective – because going forward, they need to.

Video is another consideration and an increasingly important tool to engage with consumers. By 2020, it’s predicted that online videos will make up more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic, yet many organizations give little or no thought to how their brand will move when animated.

And on top this, digital experiences are constantly evolving. There are more channels than ever before, each with different requirements that can alter overnight. A brand identity needs to perform in a multi-screen, multi-channel world, where each device and platform requires different sizes, fonts and image specifications. Even tone of voice needs are different for online audiences and in different channels; think of the vastly different way brands need to be represented on Instagram vs Twitter – it’s similar to how you alter your behavior when visiting an art gallery compared to a nightclub.

The digital landscape is prompting a need for brands to be much more versatile. Yet many brands still have a set of static, offline brand guidelines that leave digital teams scratching their heads! One way that marketing teams and designers can better prove the worth of digital-first design is by getting to know the needs and reactions of the customer better and using this to prove effectiveness. Digital-design allows this to happen much more easily. It’s more effective to test a brand online than offline. We can use a variety of tools to help make some really informed decisions. Digital design means we can look beyond whether the majority, or even one person, has a preference to the overall look and feel. It has to be tested to ensure ‘it works’ and resonates with the end user. Tangible and measurable results will drive the end product rather than opinions of few.

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