6 Tips for Establishing an Exceptional Design Aesthetic for Your Product or Brand

The design aesthetic is an important aspect of brand identity. People receive about 80% of information about their environment through sight, so you want your business or product to always look its best. Here’s how.

Narrow down your sources of inspiration

Like most branding strategies, aesthetic design starts with creative brainstorming. Fire up your Pinterest account or get to the drawing board. Collect stock photos or magazine cutouts. This phase is about exploring ideas that feel like they matter to your product or brand.

Some staple sources of inspiration to consider include:

  • brands you personally like or care about
  • successful businesses in the same industry
  • your direct competitors
  • influential figures in the same market
  • mood boards that reflect the feeling of your brand
aesthetic
Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Define the key elements

Once you’ve gathered a bank of visuals, begin sorting them. Some visual categories to consider for your aesthetic include colors, fonts, outlines, accent shapes, and contrast (or lack thereof). Look for examples of how these individual elements are being used in the market.

Play around with palettes, font boards, etc., and try various combinations. Direct your efforts toward the image of your business you want to portray.

When people learn about your brand or product when they see your designs, what do you want them to feel and think? Try to shape those impressions into visuals that resonate with your target audience.

Know your buyer

Now that your elements are narrowed down and organized, you can start targeting. Your audience should be the driving factor behind your aesthetic. What kind of person are you trying to sell to? Who is your ideal customer?

Here are some points that factor into your target customer persona:

  • their residence area (urban vs. rural)
  • their culture and values
  • their job type and income bracket
  • their interests and passions
  • where and how they look for information

So, when you have a comprehensive idea of your ideal customer, you can accurately tailor your brand or product to appeal to them. The next step is to map those insights onto a specific look.

Photo by pmv chamara on Unsplash

Decide on a design

Remember that your style needs to work for more than your logo. It will also be applied to brand correspondence, social media pages, packaging design choices, and any other thing related to your business that features even a tiny visual aspect.

Design styles are numerous, but the five most popular are:

  • Minimalist
  • Material
  • Retro
  • Handcrafted
  • Classic

Minimalist is the most modern design style. It’s defined by simplicity and universal meaning. Minimal aesthetics rely on silhouettes, clear-cut visuals, and at least one unchanging factor. Apple is a great example: it went from rainbow to white but the shape is the same. Minimal designs are easy to enhance, so they’re suited to brands that plan to grow in several sectors.

Image: Example of minimalist logo design by 99 Designs and nnorth.

Material is the style invented by Google, best exemplified by its simple logo. It evolved from a flat design. This type of brand look is very helpful in PR strategies because it’s streamlined and versatile. It’s ideally suited to online spaces and web-based businesses. Material aesthetics rely on light, shadow, and grids.

Image: Simple, minimalist Google logo – Source

Retro aesthetics are experiencing a revival with coffee shops, hair salons, restaurants, pubs, music shops, etc.

The Starbucks logo is a good example of retro design. This style can convey a range of impressions from hip, through wholesome and nostalgic.

Image: Check out this history of the Starbucks logo

Handcrafted aesthetics encompass designs that mimic drawings, chalk, rustic wood, recycled paper, etc.

They’re characterized by small imperfections that can be found in traditional hand-made products.

This aesthetic is best suited to smaller businesses and low-key brands, especially those that produce custom orders.

Image: Excellent examples of brands with handwritten-style logos – Source

Classic designs are those that are both widely known and culturally embedded. Coca-Cola is a good example.

The notion of “classic” might vary slightly depending on your region, history, and culture, but you probably have an instinctive idea of it.

Classic aesthetics reach a wide audience and stay strong for a long time.

Image: Coca-Cola has one of the most classic, recognizable logos – Source

Optimize for all displays

Make sure your aesthetic works well across a range of channels. Test your visuals on your website, in mobile apps, in different browsers, on your social media profiles, on blogs, in online ads, etc. Account for common issues like edges, white spaces, positioning, and wrapping.

Also, your designs need to be easy on the eyes and not get in the way of online interactions. Consider trying several templates on a dummy site before you officially launch. You can also join startup hubs and critique forums to get live feedback on your ideas before you settle on one brand look.

Incorporate it

Finally, you need to embed your new aesthetic in your actual business processes. Apply your color palette to client giveaways, stakeholder gifts, curating your Instagram posts, and so on. Update your email signatures, document headers, brochures, newsletters, etc.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, decorate it to match the brand aesthetic. Implement a dress code for employees (either full uniforms or just a matching color scheme).

Don’t forget the little details like stationery and office supplies. The more cohesive your efforts are, the stronger your brand identity.

Final comments

The best brand or product aesthetic is inspired, targeted, and optimized for the various digital avenues of today.

It boasts a clearly defined design style where the key elements resonate with the audience.

It’s cohesively implemented in all processes to build brand presence and encourages recognition and customer loyalty.

Mike Johnston
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1 thought on “6 Tips for Establishing an Exceptional Design Aesthetic for Your Product or Brand”

  1. Good point about narrowing down your brand design Mike. Many seem lost in looking far and wide for inspiration. If everything looks good one cannot pick a few sources for modeling, or practical ideas. Dial in. Pick a few inspirational designs. Get busy designing your product or brand.

    Reply

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