Update Your Brand Guidelines to Include Accessibility

Illustration showing how to adapt your brand guidelines to meet accessibility needs.

The more descriptive and complete an organization’s brand guidelines are, the easier it is to ensure strong, consistent branding across all mediums. But one aspect of brand guidelines that few organizations consider is outlining accessibility standards.

Accessibility is a hot topic for websites because a lack of accessibility compliance can lead to costly lawsuits. But accessibility extends far beyond websites into mobile apps, social media, podcasts, videos and even the colors your brand uses.

Organizations that have taken the time and care to outline fonts, colors and messaging in their brand guidelines should also consider expanding this information with the following accessibility standards.

Video Brand Guidelines for Accessibility

Video is a powerful branding and communication tool. Mobile video consumption increases 100 percent each year, according to Insivia.

But don’t forget that not everyone can hear your videos. Brands looking to be accessibility friendly across all brand platforms should outline standards for captioning videos.

It shouldn’t matter whether your videos are on YouTube, Facebook, or your website, individuals with hearing impairments should be able to enjoy that content with ease thanks to captions. And guess what? These captions can be read by search bots and increase your SEO rankings.

Podcast Transcription and Timestamping Accessibility

Alternate forms of content consumption enable your brand to reach a broad audience. Podcasts are a wise strategic choice to offer your followers a convenient way to stay connected with your brand.

Brand guidelines that cover accessibility include information about podcasting and including transcription with timestamping. Brands that provide a consistent experience have brand guidelines that include information on how often to timestamp transcriptions.

While it might seem like a small thing, timestamping helps hearing-impaired individuals follow along with your podcasts while also enjoying the consistency of knowing when to expect the next timestamp. It’s just one more way to create a cohesive relationship with your customers.

Mobile App Haptic Feedback

When designing mobile apps, accessible brands consider how to provide haptic feedback to engage individuals of all abilities. Haptic feedback provides vibrations to tell a user that they’ve taken an action within the app.

When considering your users’ interactions in your brand’s mobile app, think about including visual cues, vibrations and sound cues that will tell people of all abilities that they’ve done what they came to do in your app or to alert them of something new.

Outlining this information in your brand guidelines can help ensure that when you adjust your brand’s mobile app, your team is constantly thinking about ensuring accessibility. Otherwise, an app that starts as accessible can slowly become less accessibility friendly with each update or new feature.

Brand Colors for Typography vs. Accent

Most brands put tons of thought and strategy into their brand colors. But what you might not realize is that the colors nearby can affect how a visually impaired person sees typography.

It’s perfectly appropriate to include a brand color for typography and another for use in accents (see our other website recommendations that might surprise you for more tips). This means that when the color is used for words on a page, it might need to be darker to ensure visually impaired people can still see it.

While your brand team might be concerned about having multiple shades of its brand color on one piece of marketing, you’ll be surprised how you can’t really tell. In your brand guidelines, it will likely be evident that the shades are different because they sit right next to one another on the page.

But on your website or print materials, it won’t be obvious to the untrained eye, but it will provide an added level of accessibility for compliance purposes and for enabling your brand to reach people with low vision.

Quarterly Accessibility Audits

Even brands with outstanding brand guidelines focused on accessibility for all might need to make minor adjustments as they go. A good way to ensure you’re keeping your brand presence accessible is to complete quarterly audits.

Take some time to review your website’s accessibility each quarter to provide an outstanding experience for everyone and to prevent costly lawsuits. But don’t stop there, review your mobile app, take a good look at the videos and podcasts you’ve produced, and ensure that your print materials are easy to read for those with low vision.

Organizations that look at their brand’s accessibility from every angle regularly will find their branding is more consistent and inviting to everyone.

Final Brand Guideline Accessibility Recommendations

Pause for a moment and view your brand materials and marketing as someone who has some impairments. Just how easy is it to be a customer or partner with your organization? Then take some time to update your brand guidelines to ensure every aspect of your branding is accessible to all.

WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines are the gold standard. But it’s always great to ask individuals with disabilities to review your brand collateral. This is the best way to find areas of improvement and aspects of your branding that you need to outline more clearly in your brand guidelines.

Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency. We work with brands to ensure their brand guidelines cover accessibility in order to provide outstanding interactions with everyone no matter their abilities.

Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency.