Your organization’s brand should work for everyone — but the decisions you make when building your brand may lock some potential customers out of the conversation.
An estimated 25% of U.S. adults live with at least one disability. Depending on your target audience, that number may be low: Among people aged 75 and over, 46% report having a disability, per Pew Research.
To craft an accessible brand, you’ll need to start thinking about all of your users. That means taking steps to deliver the same experience to every part of your audience, including:
- People who use screen readers (software that outputs text as audio or braille) and other assistive technologies (AT).
- People with color vision deficiencies (also called color blindness).
- People who cannot (or choose not to) perceive audio content.
- People with disabilities that affect their mobility or cognition.
Needless to say, creating content for all of these users requires some finesse. Fortunately, there’s a guidebook: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), widely considered to be the international standards for digital accessibility.
By referencing WCAG, you can prioritize accessibility when making key decisions about your brand. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Brand accessibility starts with use of color
Color can be a powerful tool for creating emotional connections with your customers. Ideally, you’ll be able to communicate your brand with your palette alone — but that won’t work for every customer.
Those people are part of your audience. You shouldn’t rely wholly on a single type of sensory perception to communicate ideas, and you should recognize that your customers have different visual capabilities.
WCAG includes two key requirements for using color:
- WCAG 2.1 Success Criterion (SC) 1.4.1, “Use of Color,” requires that color is not used as the only means of conveying information. Read more about the use of color for accessibility.
- WCAG 2.1 SC 1.4.3, “Contrast (Minimum),” sets minimum thresholds for contrast ratios (the difference in luminance between foreground elements and their background). Most text must maintain a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1. Read more about color contrast and accessibility.
When you’re designing your logo or choosing a color scheme for your website, test your color choices with the Bureau of Internet Accessibility’s a11y® Color Contrast Accessibility Validator.
Related: Easy Guide to Accessible Colors
Marketing plans should consider accessibility from day one
Digital accessibility must be a consistent priority. If you ignore your customers with disabilities, your accessibility debt grows, and establishing an accessible brand will become more difficult (and expensive).
To keep your accessibility debt small, get into the habit of asking questions. Let’s say you’re planning a series of social media posts to promote a new product via a landing page. You’re supporting your campaign with an email blast.
Consider the following:
- What steps can you take to make sure your social media posts are accessible to as many people as possible? Learn about the best practices of social media accessibility.
- If users cannot access social media, will they still be able to learn about the product?
- Will your email be accessible for people who use screen readers and other AT? Learn about the best practices of email accessibility.
- Is the landing page accessible, and can people complete the call to action with a keyboard alone?
When you get into the habit of asking questions about accessibility, you can avoid many common issues that frustrate users with disabilities. You’ll also create clear messages that appeal to every type of customer — as we’ve discussed in other articles, digital accessibility benefits everyone, not just people with sensory limitations.
Build a brand that doesn’t make assumptions about its audience
Remember, accessible branding is good for business. An inclusive approach helps your brand deliver a consistent, clear message, which improves key marketing metrics while leaving people with a better impression of your business.