Five Learnings on Brands in Extended Realities

Jessica Wegelin
6 July 2018

As designers, we move into new territory in Extended Realities (XR). Only rarely do we get the chance to design applications for new technologies and face new design challenges. It’s not just about designing for another dimension that brings its own unique paradigms. It is also about designing for an immersive medium that combines significantly more design aspects than screen-based media. Elements such as space and environment, lighting, sound and haptics must work together consistently to convey a unified image in the spirit of the brand.

Full immersion in a virtual world or augmented reality also enhances the effect on the user. In contrast to screen-based applications, which are always viewed with a certain distance, immersion in extended realities causes a more intense experience, which also increases the potential effect of the brand many times over. This makes brand-appropriate design in extended realities all the more important.

But how do designers develop a brand for virtual three-dimensional space? And how do you transform an established brand for these new media? We have compiled the five most important lessons learned from our Extended Realities projects for you.

1. Think Strategically

A stable brand foundation is the starting point for branded design – in all media. The Branded Interaction Design process has also proven itself in Extended Realities projects: For each brand value, we formulate design principles that define the brand’s behavior toward users.

The classic design disciplines such as look & feel, animation, transitions, etc. should be supplemented by special design aspects for extended realities. These include, for example, the look & feel of the environment, the sense of space and lighting, force feedback or sound.

2. Be Bold

In a new medium, a brand is allowed to present itself more boldly. In fact, it has to, because the user expectations associated with extended realities go beyond what has already been seen. A well-known brand in extended realities is expected to surprise and delight. Virtual, augmented and mixed reality offer the right platform for this.

The important thing is that the use case fits the brand and creates essential new value for customers or employees. One should avoid designing an application just to have an XR case. Only then can the application contribute to the positive perception of the brand.

3. Combine the good with the new

The first question that arises with every design is: Which elements do we take over from existing corporate design and which new elements must there be?

Central is of course the logo, which finds its use for example in the splash screen of the application. In our projects we have used a reduced version of the color palette, for example a dark tone as a base for layers etc. and a light blue tone for central design elements. In addition, there are often already interaction elements whose basic look and feel can be transferred to Extended Realities.

For our Extended Realities projects, we have also developed our own effect based on the existing color palette, which is used as animated feedback or transition. In this way, we exploit the potential of Extended Realities and further develop the corporate design in the spirit of the brand.

4. Mind the details

The whole is always more than the sum of its parts. This also applies to Extended Realities applications: The sum of the design aspects makes up the brand experience, and their proper interaction determines whether the whole feels round.

Due to the multitude of design aspects that come together in Extended Realities, it can be easy for the design of individual aspects to lack detail, but ambience and sound, interactions and force feedback, etc. should be coordinated.

In addition, the individual aspects within the application should be designed as coherently as possible. Design patterns must work for different contexts and cases within the application and be thought across media.

5. Design for eyes and ears

“Sound is 50% of the VR experience” writes Casey Fiktum in his book ‘VR UX’. Sound not only plays a central role as feedback on user actions, but can also help to better integrate interface elements into the virtual or real environment (for example by supporting transitions auditorily) or serve as 3D sound for orientation.

Applications for mobile devices or AR headsets must of course work without sound, as users are often in public spaces or talking to other people around them while using them.

Especially in VR, however, sound primarily creates atmosphere and thus has a decisive influence on the brand.