Ashley Rocha creative director


Building Brand Awareness: 3 Basics for Good Design

FEBRUARY 1, 2017

Design matters. And it matters now more than ever before. These days, consumers are faced with limitless choices when purchasing, and there are two main factors driving their decision: price and brand awareness. When it comes to brand awareness, design will be your best friend. With most of your channels of communications – digital, social, print, point-of-sale – design plays a crucial role in establishing the emotional connection between the person and the product. It’s the medium through which you communicate the story and personality of your brand that ultimately makes consumer care (and buy). 

Before we dive into the basics, it’s important to understand that the best design is invisible. Good design is something that’s easy to understand, read, and use without being ostentatious. It makes a person want to engage with your website, app, or product and it evokes a specific emotional response. To the average person, good design often goes unnoticed – and that’s a good thing. 

Even if you’re not a designer, you will have an influence over your brand’s touchpoints. No need for formal design training. You can easily apply some basic principles to your thinking that will get you far. Here are three basic principles that will set you on the right path to understanding what makes good design. ​


Hierarchy goes a long, long way – it’s the most important thing in making your design easy to consume. Hierarchy refers to the arrangement or presentation of elements in a way that implies importance. The key is to feed the user the right information in the right order, guiding them through your story. If the user becomes lost, for even a split second, they are likely to leave. Maybe forever. 

​Ideally, your visual hierarchy will match the conceptual hierarchy of your content. Within seconds, visitors should be able to pick up your key points and main message. They can do this if the most important information is the most visually prominent. For example, if an article’s headline is more important than a caption in the article, then the headline should be more visually dominant. This might seem obvious, but it’s something that you can get wrong if you don’t pay attention.

Good Hierarchy v. Bad Hierarchy ​


Ease of use is increased when similar parts of your content or brand system are designed as a cohesive whole. This makes the entire user experience more enjoyable to consume and more intuitive to navigate. It’s important that you don’t force your user to be constantly re-learning how to navigate your website, consume your content, or use your app or product. This inconsistent experience is tiresome and causes users to lose focus on what’s important. For example, say you are trying to read an article where all the headlines are in different fonts, sizes, and positions. Your brain has to work harder to identify those text blocks as headlines and may overlook your important messaging or branded content. News flash: people are lazy; they do not want to do unnecessary work.

Consistency is vital when it comes to branding – using the same logos, typefaces, colors, graphic styles, voice and design architecture is what creates brand recognition. Remember what I said earlier? There are two main factors that drive consumer choice: price and brand awareness. Invest in building a strong visual brand. Achieving consistency through design and messaging is the best place to start.

Spotify brand guidelines shows the rules for using their branding across all touchpoints.

White Space (Negative Space)

White space is a very powerful element in web design that is all too often underutilized. White space, sometimes referred to as negative space, is the portion of a design that is left unmarked or blank. Non-designer’s often view white space on a web page as lost real estate. However, this could not be farther from the truth.

​White space is used strategically by designers to transform a design into something that is easier to consume and more enjoyable to view. It’s what makes a design feel elegant. It helps guide a viewer through your design in the manner and pace that you intend them to experience it. Think of it like this: would you prefer to be stuffed into a tiny elevator or to be lounging in an airy park on a Sunday afternoon? Which environment would you prefer to linger in?​​

Apple does a great job of using white space to create an elegant design that functions well.

Apply those three basic principles to your brand touchpoints and you’ll be on the path to securing a place in the heart and minds of consumers. If you're looking to polish your design skills in a more formal setting, I recommend taking a few classes at General Assembly or the Academy of Art.