How a Design Language Drives Revenue Growth

We are getting into semantics again. If we use words, there is a very grave danger they will be misinterpreted.” -H. R. Haldeman, Former White House Chief of Staff.

Like written and verbal communication, a design language is a visual communication tool. It is a powerful way to influence the purchasing decisions of consumers. Despite this, it also carries the risk of misinterpretation.

Written and verbal communication demands time to construct meaning. Instead, visual communication conveys this to the audience in a split second. This is why it should be a critical consideration of any good business and marketing strategy.


What is a Design Language

A design language communicates meaning using consistent visual cues including (but not limited to):

  • Colours
  • Shapes
  • Lines
  • Shadows
  • Animations
  • Interactions


When used correctly, it can create a sense of familiarity for your audience and help them make decisions - from purchasing to intuitively navigating digital platforms or products. 


Why Is Having a Design Language Important?


A design language ensures consistency across brands and branding. It helps internal stakeholders craft effective designs and provides a set of standards to follow when creating products or platforms.

In addition, it helps prospects and customers identify brands and navigate systems quickly as they do not need to recall many different elements or interfaces and can instead rely on the ruleset that you have defined.

The following are some more specific reasons why having a design language is important to a business:


  1. Decision-making. An effective design language helps consumers make decisions by visually communicating important information such as market positioning.
  2. Certainty. Instead of deciphering a page's UI for example, a design language means more mental energy is spent on doing things beneficial to the user. 
  3. Intuitiveness. A design language helps users understand how to use a platform or product without needing instructions.
  4. Familiarity. Design languages used throughout a range of items allow users to become familiar with your brand identity.
  5. Persuasion. Repetition is known to increase a person’s perception of trust.


"Visuals make a bigger impact on a person than words, even if the visual is just in the person’s mind" - Scott Adams, Author of Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.

What to Consider When Creating Your Design Language


An effective design language can have a boom or bust effect on your business. Getting it right is therefore critical. Consider the following three themes when crafting your unique design language. 



In Michael Pollan's book, "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto", he showed the words "chocolate cake" to a group of Americans and a group of French and recorded their word associations. "guilt" was the top response for Americans whereas "celebration" was more common among the French. 

Understanding your target audience, and how they perceive elements of your design language, is therefore the most fundamental step to success.


Colour and Shape Theory

Shapes and colours are powerful visual communication tools as our subconscious minds respond to them in different ways. For example, curved shapes like circles tend to communicate a positive tone of friendship or community whereas straight lines and edges lean towards stability or professionalism.

Likewise, colours play an important role in visual communication as they spark a variety of emotions. Red might communicate passion, authority, or danger whereas blue is associated with trust and calmness depending on its application with shapes and the context it's in.

Heuristic Approach

Heuristic techniques help users to learn or discover things for themselves. They provide mental shortcuts to help people solve problems, avoid mental overload, and make judgements or assessments quickly and efficiently. 


People will almost always take the path of least resistance, so unless you operate in a niche market without competitors, make sure you make everything easy and intuitive for users, or they will quickly seek alternative solutions. 


The two brands that really nail heuristics are Apple and Canva. Apple's unique branding can be quickly recognised by almost anyone on the planet. It has a cult-like status and follows a carefully constructed design system that any Apple user will quickly pick up as new products and features are released.  Canva on the other hand has revolutionised access to design and overcome the UX barriers imposed by Adobe by providing an easy and intuitive design platform that anyone can use. 

In the early stages of a business, design languages are likely to evolve and conform less strictly to a set of guidelines. This is natural considering the brand will likely morph as the market demands it to. As a business finds product/market fit, gains traction and begins to scale however, having a formal design language will have a material impact on the performance of the business through customer acquisition and retention. If you're ready to formalise your design language, contact LimeHub!


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