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What are some helpful guidelines and/or best practices when branding multiple applications (could also apply to web sites) without just making them all look the same.

Edit: The original question probably wasn't clarified enough. Everyone looks at an Adobe application and knows its by Adobe. Google and Apple achieve this as well. What are some commonalities that help give consistency to suites of applications or groups of web sites besides using the same fonts, layout, etc? Or is it that basic?

  • Any lessons learned so far? Facing the same dilemma - 17 inconsistent public products developed over a decade. Suddenly HQ has discovered the concept of branding... – mc01 Dec 3 '14 at 21:22
  • The answer provided by Patrick us a good starting point. It really breaks down to a good marketing strategy. As far as design goes, develop a style guide and adhere to it. – Jeff Dec 3 '14 at 23:32
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Today we see those suites and know they are by Adobe, Google, etc because they include their company name when marketing. Google mail, Adobe flash, etc etc.

But before that the companies built a name for themselves. This allowed them to leverage their brand identity to increase utilization rates of their apps.

It also had the benefit of building the company brand as people became more familiar with their products.

So the helpful tips: Always include your company name when marketing your app. Always ensure consistency across apps. Build a name for yourself that is positive. And a million other things.

  • So for the sake of clarity, what would you define as consistency? Obviously a style guide would need to be created specifying fonts, sizes, etc, but since apps can vary greatly in function and content, would you include layout in that like you would for a website? – Jeff Sep 21 '14 at 13:53
  • Where applicable, yes. Don't place consistent over UX, but a particular icon or menu item should do roughly the same thing from one app to another. On top of this, where applicable icons and menu items should look/behave similarly to apps you didn't help create. – Patrick Pease Sep 21 '14 at 17:22
  • If you have a suite, navigation should be similar from splash screen, to environment setup, to save and exit. App to app these things should feel the same. Bonus points if they feel efficient and minimize clicks. – Patrick Pease Sep 21 '14 at 17:25
  • I appreciate the insight. Right now company apps have no semblance of UX or basic design and vary widely. I have the rare opportunity to design two apps coming off the mainframe with about 30 following those. – Jeff Sep 21 '14 at 18:32
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    Actually there are at least 15-16 public apps. All designed by back-end developers. So each app varies depending on who built it. Customer base is actually extremely large. Needless to say, government agencies are slow movers. – Jeff Sep 21 '14 at 19:07

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