What is your goal when branding or marketing your product or service? It is certain that when you spend time, and possibly money, to boost your brand awareness you expect a response. Whether you’re a startup working to get your brand’s name out there or a veteran company aiming to boost engagement, understanding how to reach your audience with today’s resources and perceptions is crucial. One paradox often referenced by designers when building apps and websites is the Aesthetic Usability Effect; however, this principle can easily be applied to any aspect of your visual brand, from television advertising to social media posts, to your company’s website. 

What is the Aesthetic Usability Effect?

In marketing, looks are everything. People are more likely to perceive your ads, social media posts, or website as more usable if it looks nice. The use of pleasing colors, rounded edges, and white space (extra space between sections) has become the new norm in design - and for a good reason. According to Forbes, it only takes the average person 7 seconds to decide if they like a brand. Make those 7 seconds work to your advantage!

Let’s look at the website of a well-known company: Life Alert. Upon first glance, the Life Alert website seems that it has not been updated since the 90s due to its lack of white space, use of harsh color gradients and fonts, and overall design. For many individuals that are used to the easy and simple designs of modern websites, the Life Alert site may seem overwhelming and difficult to navigate. The company’s branding and design of their website also translate into their television commercials, which are recognizable but not necessarily emotive or entertaining.

When evaluating your brand using the aesthetic usability effect, it’s important to keep your target audience demographics in mind. The Life Alert website looks like it has not been updated for decades because it does not have to - according to a study by the Pew Research Center, only 42% of adults ages 65 and older own a smartphone, making them more likely to purchase a product or service via phone call or in-person. Analyze your target audience demographics and understand what is appealing to them. It’s more likely than not that the aesthetic appeal of your ads, social media posts, and website is a key aspect of successfully reaching your targeted consumers.

In light of recent events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies and individuals have experienced a digital transformation, which is why your brand is more reliant than ever on a positive perception by your audience. Keeping your consumers engaged and interested in your brand is especially important for small companies or startups during these uncertain times. Remember, your brand only has 7 seconds before a consumer decides if they like you or not, so the design of your ads and website is a top priority. Use colors consistently across your brand to make your style easily recognizable by your customers - this will also make your brand seem more accessible and reliable. Make your marketing and branding efforts worth your while by truly connecting with your audience with the aesthetic usability effect.


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