When companies created design systems, it is typically applied to their products and services rather than something that can be used throughout the entire organisations. Atlassian's update of their design system is a reflection of companies that are now doing 'digital first' but also recognize the need to standardize the branding that covers not just their digital products but even areas such as corporate communications.

No doubt it is easier for companies like Google that started out as a digital company and now venturing into hardware to consider this, but companies that traditionally work on hardware like Apple that have moved also into software will also have something like this. However, this seems to be typically the domain of companies that are large enough to dedicate resources and effort to creating design systems of this nature.

Other than Google's Material Design, Windows Fluent Design and Apple's HIG, are there other examples well-known brands with published design systems that cover both physical and digital design?

1 Answer 1


The "design system" examples you provided (Material, Fluent, AHIG) are very different from most design systems in that they're intended to be applied by the general public. As in you need to follow the rules or risk having your thing removed from the marketplace. This also means they're more descriptive than average.

I personally feel that design systems as defined for most digital products are really interaction pattern guidelines and the missing part (that you're calling physical) is typically attributed to what graphic designers call Brand/Style guides. They show how to use color, type, logo, etc on everything from a business card to an airplane.

I looked for a combination example but struggled to find any that are publicly available. This is likely due to the fact that brand guidelines are most often intended only for internal consumption.

However, I know that Apple, Google and Microsoft all have brand guidelines (for corporate communications) that are separate from Material/AHIG. This Medium post has several examples

  • +1 You are right in that most of the design systems I referred to are intended for general public consumption, although Atlassian Design is specifically for their own products. Most brand/style guides don't cover physical objects although they can be applied to them with some adjustments though.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 21:22

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