A multi-branded design system leveraging design tokens

Signify's design system is now multibranded and geared up for future ventures because we used design tokens to enable designers to design for multiple brands with a single system

Our partnership with Signify started over 7 years ago, back when they operated as Phillips Lighting. We helped them establish their Interact brand for IoT lighting products, creating a design system and unifying their professional portfolio under it. We've been managing and evolving the Interact design system ever since.

Recently, Signify added a new product to their professional portfolio. They chose to integrate it within their overarching brand, deviating from the Interact-specific approach. This called for a reshape of the Interact design system. It needed to seamlessly accommodate both Interact and Signify branded products, which involves preserving core elements while meeting the unique visual and experiential needs of each brand.

Signify is the global leader in lighting committed to unlocking the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. On the consumer side they are known for their smart home lighting system, Philips Hue. One of their professional solutions brand, Interact, provides smart IoT lighting solutions across various industries, such as offices, cities, retail, industry, transportation, sports, and hospitality.

A future-proof solution

The challenge was two-fold. First, the Signify brand was not optimised for digital products, causing difficulties in achieving accessible contrasts and suitable typography. Second, supporting the new product within the existing design system without losing consistency between the brands would increase complexity and maintenance costs.

Even though most of the components from existing portfolio can be shared, the new product still required a seamless integration of new components tailored to its unique context. To future-proof our solution, we focused on creating a sustainable system geared up for supporting any future brands.

Move fast without breaking things

We adopted a phased approach to address the challenge. Initially we focused on two key objectives. The most important objective was for the new product team to start designing promptly with minimal delays. The second was to optimise the Signify branding for digital products. The result was a temporary library, containing a core subset of the components of the Interact library. Although the branding was not fully optimised at this point, we decided to publish it, collect feedback, and enable the design team to start using it.

"The Hike One team were fast learners, ready to contribute from day one to our goals and helped us set standards that will help guide our organisation for years to come."
David Santos, Project lead

Tokens for agility

Transitioning to the second phase, we made the strategic choice to allocate half of one of our designers' time to the new team. This designer's role was to facilitate the team's implementation of the library, gather input, and finalise the branding. With these elements in place, our focus shifted toward our ultimate objective: crafting a sustainable solution. Its ultimate goal: remain agile by minimising the additional manual labor and added complexity of multiple brands.  

To achieve this, we primarily focused on replacing the standard design styles with design tokens. Tokens allow us to establish a shared logic for applying styles across multiple brands – only modifying some core values for each brand. The reason this works is the inherent layering of design tokens, with each layer building upon the previous one in a parent-child relationship. In essence, the initial layer encapsulates brand decisions, and the subsequent layers determine where and how these decisions are applied.

This modular approach resolved the immediate challenge at hand whilst streamlining maintenance, providing flexibility, and enhancing overall consistency.

Photon: a multi-branded design system

The result was Photon, a multi-branded design system leveraging design tokens. Photon supports the existing Interact brand and seamlessly incorporates the new Signify brand. By creating a white-label library that contains all components, and removing brand-specific components from the Signify & Interact libraries, we ensured that the design system remains aligned yet unique for each brand.

It's even designed to accommodate any future brands. With Photon, Signify can effectively venture into new products with increased speed and quality, while maintaining consistency and leveraging lessons learned from other brands and products. This empowers them to deliver a better product experience and reduces the cost of design and development.

Business implications and future success

The efforts of our team result in increased value of the design system to Signify’s business. The integration of this design system continues to yield reductions in design and development costs, while maintaining a consistent and high-quality user experience for their products and a streamlined design process for product teams.

Incorporating tokens brought improvements to the design system itself and extends its value to products in the Signify brand, with the option to expand to even more brands with minimal extra effort. Last but not least, it opened up opportunities for cross-pollination between brands and products, enabling creative synergies and fostering innovation.

Interested in validating your
business proposition?
Get in touch
Cookie Consent

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

Cookie preferences