The Brand Experience and the User Experience In our fast-paced lifestyle, the smartphone is almost literally attached to our bodies, thinking is done within frameworks of inches, and all we really ever see are pixels.
Classic brands that started out about 200 years ago have significantly changed over the years. Prior to the internet, a brand was a one-way dialog from the manufacturer to the consumer. But that is no longer the case. Nowadays, the consumers also take part in the brand dialog, commenting on social networks, setting up their own websites, marketing on-line, and so much more. This interaction has created a type of identity crisis for the brand world.
If we were to ask UX specialists, they would say that they work on experiences, not on brands. Yet this only adds an extra layer of confusion. This means that it is no longer sufficient to redesign a brand based on the company’s values and vision.
Many organizations still incorrectly assume that a new brand identity can fix all their troubles. Yet designing a new logo using different fonts and colors is not enough to erase a negative interaction that a customer had with your organization.
As designers with vast experience, we at NOW understand the need for improving each and every point-of-contact with the customer along the brand continuum and via all channels. This is where the brand and the experience start to become entwined.
The on-line experience
When designing the online user experience, we need to remember that the overall impression is created along a range of points-of-contact:
- Colors, pictures, typography, and all other visual elements
- Usability of each and every platform
- Dynamic design: transitions and animation
- Points-of-contact with the user, strategy: website, system, email signatures, social networks, direct mailing, campaigns, apps, and more
- The tone and personality of the brand – and what it conveys
- Website performance: response time, statements and messages all affect the user experience
- Immediate customer support and problem solving in an impatient world
- Micro-interactions and moments of happiness such as receiving a package and enjoying a surprising and different package opening experience
These are all results of the work of the professional UX team who must understand the brand and its messages, vision, visual language and of course – its customers.
Take MailBakery, for example, a dedicated service for the custom design of email marketing newsletter templates. They consistently offer customers a comprehensive experience, from the Look&Feel stage that conveys a feeling of a bakery to the gorgeous fun animation and sketches. Precise call-to-action sentences that combine the bakery concept and the professional message are designed to lead the customer to a specific page. The information is very clear and is conveyed to mobile devices without losing any aspects of the brand experience along the way:
A multi-channel experience
Up until now, we have mainly talked about the digital world. But if you think about it, most of the time brands do not only exist on the internet. Most products and services that are available on the internet are also available off-line, combining on-line digital points-of-contact with real, physical, old-time points-of-contact.
Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in design services and customer experiences (CX) worldwide – as a result of the need to deal with combined channels and the need to identify, investigate and evaluate the customer journey and it strengths and weaknesses.
UX and CX designers aim at creating significant, positive experiences that can make the customer fall in love with the brand – regardless of the channel.
“Brand”, therefore, is in fact just another way of saying “experience”.
So what does all this have to do with branding? And where does it leave the company’s marketing department?
The conclusion is the brand is alive and well.
Yet the brand is not just the logo.
The brand is the sum of all parts of the customer experience and user interface.
There isn’t much difference between a UX specialist and a marketing expert. They are both interested in the customers and in the brand. They are both enchanted by analyzing data. They are both eager to learn, analyze and go back for a second round – in order to achieve an even better result.
Whether you are an information architect, a content strategy expert, a UX / user interface specialist, or a marketing professional – you probably understand the importance of the experience and how it can influence the brand.
At the end of the day, the obvious conclusion is that the user experience didn’t kill the brand.
The user experience is the brand.