How to leave a bad impression on user experience.

Every decision a company makes can either help their brand or hurt it. But first, let’s back up a little bit and talk about a basic principle in branding. Your branding is about how your company is represented and it is not to interfere with any independent brands that operate on your platform, assuming we are talking about a user-content generated platform (in this article, we are talking about such a platform).

Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you wake up one day and open your Facebook app. But your banner image now has a blue filter placed over it. Facebook has just decided that they want your images to look like their company guidelines. What if your company spent $1000 on a photo shoot and now your company banner is orange? And your logo has lost that vibrant chartreuse that represents a very particular aspect of your business. It has now changed to something way out of the color palette that is based on your branding guidelines.

Pepsi’s latest logo redesign cost an estimated $1,000,000.00 and a ton of research went into this reinvention. Pepsi prides itself on being a brand that pushes reinvention. How do you think they would take it if you changed their mark to pink and black because your website likes those colors and they are representative of your brand?

Meetup has explored new design styles and the changes are quite big with a new UI/UX and design model. Recently, I find myself in a perplexing situation with Meetup as I contemplate their decision making regarding their latest design principles. I am part of a group called The 904 Collaborative, a creative, marketing and entrepreneurial group in Jacksonville, Fl. We have created a new Meetup on Meetup.com but have run into a dilemma. We uploaded the logo to the banner and specifically on the app, the banner has a color filter over our banner/logo. There is no way to change it either. Remember how I was talking about Facebook changing your banner for you? Well, Meetup is forcing it’s branding and design guidelines onto their users. I reached out to think this had to be a simple glitch in the system. It had to be a bug!

Here is the reply I got back from Meetup.com regarding the situation:

Hi, Jus‍, 

My name is —-. I work with the Community Experience team at Meetup HQ.

When we redesigned Meetup, we aimed to introduce a design that would unify the color scheme to the product.

Randomized color filters have been added to group cover photos to fit within the design. That’s why you’re seeing purple over your cover photo.

I understand that it can be surprising to see a color overlaid on a photo you took or selected. While it’s not currently possible to change or remove this filter, I understand why you might prefer your displaying your original photo.

Organizer feedback like this drives future decisions or changes we make, so I’ll pass your thoughts on to our Design team.

Please let me know if you have any other questions or feedback for me! Have a great weekend.

Warmly,

—–
Community Support Specialist
Meetup HQ


Let’s break down one line in the response from Meetup.

“When we redesigned Meetup, we aimed to introduce a design that would unify the color scheme to the product.”

A brands decision to unify the color scheme of the product should not over-ride the branding and design of its users since the users branding and design model is not the same as Meetups. Meetup has changed user branding to satisfy their own design model. This is largely self-serving as it makes this design model solely about Meetup’s design practices, negating the design principles of their users.

Color psychology plays a big part in how brands are represented. In design, we use color to tell a story about what we stand for. Designers use colors in branding, logos, marks, and all forms of marketing to trigger a response from the target demographic. When was the last time you saw a dentist use red for their monthly flyer?

Although some people using the platform might not see this is an issue, could such an oversight in design and branding principle be working against Meetup in the long run? My 18 years of design experience says it already has. The next time you rework your brand and design guidelines, remember the basics.

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