User Experience Design: How Colors, Shapes, and Fonts Impact and Affect Your Branding

Man designing a style guide
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July 7, 2021
4 min read
Article Contents

In marketing, experience design is a popular phrase that has been used to describe the process of optimizing a company's user experience (UX) and user interface (UI), as well as branding and marketing strategies, to create a memorable and functional user experience. The goal of an experience designer is to understand the user and the message and create experiences that align with the user's needs.  But how do things like colors, shapes, and font impact the overall feel of the experiences (and brands) you create? 

How Colors Can Impact Your Brand

Color is often one of the first things people notice, and it has a large impact on your brand identity and brand recognition. Color is a key element of visual design, and different colors can elicit different emotional responses and associations.

Each color has different meanings and associations. For example. warm colors are generally linked with energy while cool colors are associated with security and calmness.  Color psychology studies these meanings and the impact of color on perceptions and emotions. It's important to understand the meanings of different colors for branding. 

  • Red represents passion, anger, and power. It draws your attention and invokes a strong emotional response
  • Orange represents warmth, energy, and friendliness. It has a playful and adventurous feeling 
  • Yellow is associated with positivity and the sun, and it represents youth, happiness, and optimism 
  • Green has a variety of meanings and represents wealth, stability, growth, and safety.  It's also often used for eco-conscious and health brands
  • Blue is commonly used in branding, and it represents tranquility, trust, and security
  • Purple represents royalty, elegance, and creativity. Purple is often used by luxury brands because of this
  • White represents simplicity and purity. It's often used in the healthcare and cleaning industries  
  • Black represents power, luxury, and sophistication. It's classic and formal, but it's often associated with sorrow and morning 

Although these are the most common associations, color meanings can differ based on factors like age, culture, and gender. Different hues of the same color can also have different meanings. 

Repetitive usage of the same color can increase brand awareness as customers will associate the colors with your brand. To decide which colors to use for your brand, you need to first determine your brand personality and essence. Upon deciding on that, you can use color psychology to build your brand's color palette. Most brands stick to 1-4 colors with one base color, accent colors, and a neutral color for the background. Brands also generally follow one of the common color schemes: monochromatic, analogous, triad, and complementary. 

How Shapes Can Impact Your Brand

Shapes are essential to design and visual composition. Similar to colors, different shapes have different meanings and associations in our minds. It's important to keep in mind what shapes you're using and their meanings when building your brand.

Squares and rectangles are some of the most commonly used shapes. Straight lines create the impression of reliability and efficiency, and squares and rectangles are associated with:

  • strength
  • security
  • discipline.

Triangles are often associated with motion and have various meanings. They are associated with:

  • stability
  • balance
  • risk
  • danger. 

Circles and ellipses have positive connotations and are seen as more feminine. They are associated with:

  • community
  • unity
  • friendship
  • mystery
  • eternity 

Spirals are commonly seen with nature and can also represent knowledge. They are associated with: 

  • creativity
  • intelligence 
  • growth 

How Font/Typefaces Can Impact Your Brand

Fonts are important to building your brand identity as they help to establish the tone and personality of your brand. Different fonts have different meanings and will represent your brand differently.

  • Serif Fonts - have perpendicular lines at the end of the character strokes (serifs). They're the oldest font style and are associated with being traditional, professional, and reliable. Some examples are Times New Roman, Baskerville, and Playfair Display
  • Sans-Serif Fonts - have a more modern, minimalistic look and are simpler in form, lacking serifs. Some examples are Calibri, Roboto, and Helvetica
  • Slab Serif Fonts - are a blocky version of serif fonts. They're bolder and better used for titles or headers. Some examples are Roboto Slab and Courier New  
  • Script Fonts - look handwritten and tend to be less readable. They are unique and distinctive and associated with creativity and elegance. Some examples are Pacifico and Lucida Script
  • Decorative Fonts - are heavily stylized and unique. They can make your brand more memorable such as in the case of Disney and Lego but can easily fall out of trend or be overdone

Bringing it All Together

Colors, shapes, and fonts can influence a prospective consumer's view of your brand, so it's important to pay attention to your choices when building your brand. Consistency is key in branding, and it's important to maintain the same colors, shapes, and fonts in advertisements, logos and graphics, websites, and other content.  The collaboration of these different elements and more come together to tell a story, your story and establish your brand identity.

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