UI Design vs. Brand Design
UI, UX, U what?
If you’re not ‘in’ on the lingo, the terminology can be a little confusing. Designers can be designers, right?!
Yes and no.
Designers excel at different disciplines under the ‘creative’ umbrella and often have transferable skillsets and interests that cover a few bases. Despite this, it’s good to remember that each discipline can be very different from one another – from brand to UI, strategy to experiential, UX to typography – and projects of all scales will require input from at least a couple of these areas of expertise.
This guide specifically looks at explaining the differences between brand and UI (User Interface) designers.
Your brand represents who you are as a company/product/person.
The starting point of all branding design stems from a core purpose – why you exist. It’s the brands job to communicate that core purpose to your customers and end users. It should be flexible enough to communicate across print, digital, static and moving applications; every touchpoint coming into contact with your customer should live and breathe ‘you’.
Brand designers always start with a purpose or brand strategy to build an identity from. An identity that consists of assets such as graphic language, colour, tone of voice, typography, photography styling and, of course, a logo.
Side note – a logo does not equal a brand.
UI (User Interface)
UI specifically looks at how two systems (such as a user and an app) interact with one another. UI designers take the brand identity and use it in such a way across digital applications that make the most sense to users.
One example of UI design is colour usage. Red signifies danger, or stop. This is why you often see it used in error messages. Green is taken to mean the opposite, which is why it’s good for confirmation or action messaging (such as advancing through payment processes).
Hierarchy of information is another part of UI design. Take Netflix for example; a company that’s heavily reliant on its UI and UX design. They use imagery and typographic hierarchy to aid the user’s decision on whether or not they watch a show or film. It takes just 90 seconds for a user to lose interest, which is why imagery is such a powerful part of their interface. If you fancy a geek-off over Netflix imagery, this is a great article.
How do brand and UI work together?
The combination of brand and UI design is mostly seen when a brand needs to be translated onto digital products. When used together, the outcome is a seamless solution that’s not only truly representative of the brand and its purpose, but one that aids users and provides optimum clarity.
UX (User Experience) should also come into play, particularly when considering how a brand communicates to its audience. As the name suggests, UX design[ers] focus solely on the end users experience when interacting with a brand. A common misconception is that UI and UX is the same. It’s not. Although UX generally tends to be associated with digital applications, it also spans into the physical world.
Take Apple for example, who use their stores to not just sell products, but to give customers an experience they wouldn’t receive anywhere else. This experience is a considered part of their brand and is what you remember about them in addition to their physical and digital products.
UI and brand (and UX) are not the same thing in terms of design disciplines. However, they are all as important as one another and, when used properly, ensure your brand communicates itself as effectively as possible.