One challenge we have experienced in working with medical devices manufacturers is maintaining brand alignment across all software and digital assets. The primary cause is that the purpose of software running on medical devices is completely different than the purpose of web properties. The primary purposes of medical device software interfaces are task and usability driven while web property designs support the brand promise and ultimately drive sales. Alignment is important to the effectiveness of branding and marketing efforts.
Software on medical devices is largely for diagnostics purposes and also to alert medical personnel when an emergency condition is detected with the patient. Further, the display on medical devices is often limited compared to what can be shown on the web. And perhaps most importantly, color usage is critical on medical devices. Red, for example, is used specifically for critical conditions and medical alerts. It is inappropriate to have brands displayed, particularly those that have red as part of the color palette. Inherently, there is a conflict created between medical device software and digital properties.
The primary purpose of digital properties is for marketing products, increasing brand awareness, and attracting and managing leads. Brand is far more prominent on digital properties. There is also messaging which doesn’t exist within medical device software. And the level and type of information is often very detailed (i.e., content drives the quality of digital assets). Color is an issue to the extent that it needs to be consistent with brand and overall company color palette. Visual cues, use of images, and the architecture are intended to help create an engaging experience and drive a customers to a transaction or call to action (e.g., request for quote).
To resolve that issue for our clients, we look for as many areas of commonality as possible between the software and the digital assets. Aspects such as font, iconography, button styles, and tone can be made common across all assets. In some cases, even use of color can also be harmonized, with the exception of red as noted earlier. Rationalization of styles across the software and digital properties addresses potential confusion for those who need to use the brand going forward (i.e., a single style guide that references the styles and the associated application rules).
Branding on medical devices could be handled by creating a splash screen that displays the brand when the device is powered up and the software activated. It can be displayed once then not again while the device is in use. Again, balance of color usage will be important.
Ultimately, because the purposes of the two entities are vastly different, there will likely need to be differences in styles. The key to successful alignment across all interfaces is to educate and align the project managers responsible for medical devices with marketing teams in charge of branded web development. Once a single style guide is created and the brand rules established, the creation of future software assets and digital properties will be made much more efficient and the brand promise will be more effective.