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Accessibility hurts our brand

2 minutes read

I was talking to a team the other day and asked them if we have any control over adjusting their colours a bit. The combo they were using on the website was well below the Level AA contrast requirement. They said they don’t care about accessibility. I kept a straight face and asked them why they didn’t.

They said something along the lines of, "these colours are our brand and we can’t change them because of accessibility."

I was stunned.

Your colours are not your brand! They're visual elements that can be adapted and adjusted while still maintaining the core identity and essence of your brand. Your brand is far more than just colors. You might say it's the sum of visuals, values, personality, tone and meaningful interactions with your customers.

But it's not even that! You don't get to tell your customers what your brand is. It's your customers who tell you what they feel about you when they interact with your product and services. Your brand is defined by how it makes people feel through every single interaction.

Every day, you create connections with people, whether you want to or not. Shutting out an entire segment of the population by neglecting accessibility is the exact opposite of good branding. You're destroying your relationship with customers before it even begins.

When you prioritise accessibility, you're not compromising your brand. Quite the opposite. Making your website accessible demonstrates your commitment to inclusion. It shows you value all your customers equally.

Accommodation isn't an obstacle. It's an opportunity. It's your opportunity to open up new markets and cultivate brand loyalty by showing you care about each individual's needs. These are values worth incorporating into your brand.

We can always find ways to make adjustments to colour palettes, contrast ratios, font choices and other design elements to meet accessibility standards without sacrificing your "brand." In this case, my proposal was to define acceptable color pairings that meet WCAG AA contrast levels while still using their brand palette. The design team could then make accessible choices that are still on-brand.

At the end of the day, it's isn't a choice of being on-brand or being accessible. The choice is, do you want people to associate you with someone who makes them feel excluded or forgotten? Or do you want them to think of you as bringing more people together?

Did you enjoy this bite-sized message?

I send out short emails like this every day to help you gain a fresh perspective on accessibility and understand it without the jargon, so you can build more robust products that everyone can use, including people with disabilities.

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