Posted on: 7 October 2016
UX of Branding: How a User Focused Approach Can Benefit Your Brand
Brand design and UX are often seen as distinct processes. In many companies, product teams handle a product’s user experience while the marketing people look after the brand. At Akendi, our approach is different. Since we focus on building experiences for customers and users, we understand the important role a brand can play in creating that experience. For us, the line between branding and UX is deliberately blurred. Think of it as BX — Brand Experience.
What’s a brand?
It’s important to understand what is meant by “brand.” A brand is more than just a logo. It is your distinct identity and character. It encompasses the experience customers have when interacting with you and the emotional and tangible attributes that people associate with your name. Your brand defines the qualities of your company and clearly articulates your purpose. It also speaks to your audience wherever they are in your product lifecycle.
The best brands inspire people to interact with you and align their values with yours. The key, then, is to create an intentional brand experience – one that helps you to close the gap between where you are now and where you’re going.
Why is a Brand Experience approach needed?
Often, branding work is done in isolation within a company. Designers might jump right to execution before taking the time to perform the valuable research and information gathering needed to accurately define the brand. They may spend months and months designing the perfect logo without truly understanding the essence of what they are visually representing. Or they may downplay the importance of actually talking to people and fail to recognize the value of an iterative approach to the redesign of visual elements.
Research and iteration are critical to ensuring an amazing end-user experience, which is ultimately what customers and users care about. If the experience with your brand isn’t enjoyable, the impression of you and of your brand will be negative.
How do you evolve your brand using a Brand Experience process?
As the business landscape gets more competitive, companies need to “up their game” when it comes to branding or risk being left behind. In fact, for many newer companies, the product, and the brand is one and the same (think Uber). A negative experience with the brand will affect a user’s feelings about the product and vice versa.
By involving your product and marketing teams in the branding process, you can bring together the research, analysis, and consultative components required to guide and evolve your brand. In essence, a team approach gives you key quantitative and qualitative data around your existing brand, how it is viewed by customers, and how it may need to change. Best of all, the user-focused process ensures that these decisions are based on facts rather than subjective viewpoints or opinions.
When is the right time to undertake a brand refresh?
But is it necessary to refresh an existing brand? Depending on your area of expertise, it may or may not be obvious to you that you need a change. Ask yourself these questions to see if it’s time for your company to take the leap:
- Can various members of your team articulate what your company does and why it exists?
- Has your organization identified its vision, mission, and values?
- Does your leadership team know where you are going?
- Have your competitors made a significant change to their brand?
- Are you undertaking any business critical projects such as a redesign of your flagship product?
- Does your logo contain a swish or another dated design element?
If you answered “no” to questions 1, 2, or 3, or “yes” to 4, 5, or 6, it may be time for a brand refresh!
Understanding how important your brand is to your business is a good first step. Stay tuned for part 2 of this post where we explain how to actually do it.