brand accessibility

Brand accessibility: make sure your brand is ‘digitally available’

Online accessibility is one of the most important aspects for brands and businesses. In an age where older demographics becoming more digitally savvy and the younger generations are pure digital natives, online brand accessibility is a crucial part of your business, whether you know it or not.

From online advocacy to social media presence and ways of adapting your online presence to be more available to more of the population, there are many ways you can heighten your brand identity and brand accessibility in an online setting.

Here’s how you can do it.

Consider connectivity

Access isn’t always related to a physical or psychological aspect. Accessibility has many technical hurdles it has to contend with. The primary one is internet connectivity.

An individual can only be connected with a brand to the extent their internet connectivity allows it.

Here in the UK, while the roll-out of full-fibre and gigabit internet projects is ongoing throughout the country, There are still large pockets where connectivity is an issue. This can cause potential problems for your online experience.

It’s crucial to never make assumptions about your audience and their technical capacity. Therefore, it’s important to create your online presence in such a way that doesn’t potentially detract from a user experience.

In layman’s terms, this means not creating websites that eat up massive bandwidth. A website with incredible 360-degree imagery, complex animations and page structures may be great in theory, but in practice, it can cause accessibility issues for your audience.

Mobile compatibility

Having your online presence set up for mobile compatibility is a huge aspect of your online visibility.

While it is the case that smartphone use isn’t 100% guaranteed across a business’s entire audience, it is a safe assumption that a vast majority of the UK consumer population are smartphone users.

According to Deloitte, smartphones are in the vast majority, the primary device by which consumers take in information. Therefore it is a case of simple common sense that businesses should be doing everything they can to ensure that their digital presences are fully mobile compatible.

Make sure your website is fully mobile compatible, there really is no reason for it not be. But remember the bandwidth issue, overly complex and data-heavy sites can be even more clunky when operating over network connectivity.

Accessible Design

Businesses can now do an awful lot to ensure they are being fully accommodating to a wide spectrum of needs. There are a lot of accessible design options available to businesses to ensure that their online presence is meeting the highest accessibility requirements.

Some accessible design implementations to consider are:

Adding Braille Code: people with sight issues can be accommodated by adding this within a site’s HTML and it is a huge aid for those with visual impairments.

Screen Readers and Text To Speech: popular screen reading solutions such as JAW plug into websites allowing those with vision loss the means of navigating a website through an audio-driven companion. JAWS will audibly narrate and navigate the site to a user, adding to the user experience and making them feel accommodated.

WCAG: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is a series of international standard implementations you can make to ensure your digital accessibility is being met. It is produced by W3C and is an open-source document for anyone to access. It’s an essential read to inform the design process and style guide.

Colour contrast: Consider your colour choices when creating readable online content. Strong contrasting shades between text and background colours will greatly help a visually impaired visitor. Having a high contrast, particularly across text-heavy sites, combined with careful font selection is a simple but effective measure.

Explore these inclusive design options and you can soon find yourself reaching more customers, gaining potential customers and adding to your brand accessibility.

Content creation

Some of the most accessible brands are the ones that utilise content to their advantage.

It may sound straightforward but simply keeping your online platforms, which include your website, social media channels and Google Business Pages, up-to-date with relevant and engaging information is one of the most robust ways to maintain your online visibility and accessibility.

Yet it is something that many businesses do not take full advantage of. Producing and publishing new content can help you gain traction with new customers, build brand and customer loyalty

Content production and publication are also a fantastic way of increasing your visibility within search engines. Appropriately created content, optimised for SEO, will help to build your SERP. However, recent updates from Google coined the ‘Helpful Content Update‘ now mean businesses need to be careful when creating SEO content.

Video

Video content is one of the most popular and effective means of content marketing, with a vast majority of online content consumed in this format.

There are ways you can enhance your content to accommodate those with additional needs, particularly hearing impairments. Simply adding subtitles and closed captions to your video content, is a hugely effective way of ensuring your content is accessible to anyone that may be hearing impaired.

Two-way communication

What makes an accessible brand, is its ability to communicate with its audience through its own proprietary channels.

One of the great detractors of brand loyalty is a brand seeming totemic, silent and completely unapproachable. Simply listening is an often underused business practice and can massively increase the accessibility of your business.

Small details, such as replying to social media queries in a timely and helpful fashion, responding to negative reviews in an active way, and generally building a two-way presence between businesses and consumers, are fantastic indicators to show your audience that you have values and your respect and value their feedback.

The importance of brand accessibility in the digital age

Being accessible isn’t an action, it’s an outcome.

To view accessibility as a set of boxes to be ticked is a massive underestimation, and so too is to see digital accessibility as a set of tasks and challenges to be overcome.

It is about how to identify issues and react in a positive manner to ensure all of your customers – whether they have physical or psychological disabilities – are treated and communicated with on the same level.

While it makes sense to treat this as a series of actions, true brand accessibility isn’t an action or a box to tick. True accessibility is the result, not how you achieved it.

While the implementations may be tangible, the results it achieves can be far more. A truly digitally accessible brand can create a meaningful emotional connection with its audience,

It’s important to make your brand accessible and reach across the digital divide. This includes everyone in your communications. Understanding others’ points of view is important, and brands must constantly re-examine their communications strategy to ensure it’s accessible to all.