With the world’s migration to digital communication and commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, User Experience (UX) might quickly become one of the most important aspects of your website strategy. That said, UX is best presented in tandem with clear and concise branding.
With all the shiny new technologies and constant evolution in digital trends, it can be easy to get distracted from who you are and what you stand for. As an Account Manager, my goal is to help bring the client’s visions to life while continually keeping them motivated by their core brand identity.
There is a fine balancing act between brand strategy and user experience. The ability to find that balance is critical to stand out within a highly saturated market. Your brand can not be everything and nor can your user experience. Let’s look at spa’s for example, some can look pretty sketchy on the outside but turn out to be exceptional and include perks! Other times, the property or entrance is over-the-top luxurious with a spa offering overpriced treatments. What happens if you just combine the two? Kind of seems like a no-brainer but it literally took me two weeks to come to these thoughts so we are starting from the basics!
So the plan is. . .
In the next few blog posts, this is broken down into a three-part series. It is important to first understand the two apart before you can successfully marry them together. Here’s how we see breaking this down. Our first segments will focus on the basics of branding then we’ll jump into UX.
Know this stuff? Skip to Part 2 here, smartypants.
Let me start by pointing out that a brand is not simply a logo and a list of colors to be used across your marketing efforts. Branding is a process, however, brand experience is a person’s gut feeling about a company. It is the emotional relationship between the customer and the business. Think about it, people fall enthusiastically in love with brands and trust them to know some of our most private needs without us having to say.
“Your brand is not who you think you are, it’s what they think you are… your reputation”
You might be thinking “great, this is one of the most pivotal pieces to the success of my business and I have no control over it?!” While you may not have total control over what people think of your business, there are certainly ways in which you can help customers navigate their emotional connection with your brand. Let’s look at some areas you have control over when developing your brand/reputation.
Brand identity is the thing that comes to mind when thinking about brands. For example, logos, slogans, fonts, etc. These variables all come together to create a big picture of the brand and allow people to imagine your company (e.g., putting a face to the name). Brand identity can also be achieved through custom graphic icon elements and behavior (e.g., custom animations, dynamic blocks, interactive blocks)
This is what differentiates one brand from another: the brand message. Having a very clear value statement is critical as this will need to be delivered consistently to build trust with your customers. For example, Levi Strauss & Co.’s brand promise is “offers authentic style and heritage to everyone.” Levi.com offers affordable yet quality products that empower everyone to dress in comfortable and high-quality clothing no matter what class they fall into. Coors Lite has a brand promise that states, “the world’s most refreshing beer”.
Think about it this way, if you were in a relationship and the person you were seeing was a vegan one day and eating a juicy hamburger the next… Are they actually vegan? Were they just vegan for a day? Luckily, in human relationships, we are able to ask each other questions. With a brand, the customers don’t have the same face-to-face accessibility so they are left to draw their own conclusions. You want to know the person you are in a relationship with and you want to trust that’s who they actually are—the same is true for customers with brands—they want to trust you are who you say you are.
To wrap up our introduction to branding. . .
Understanding your brand means knowing who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived. While you may not have total control over what people think of your business, you can certainly impact those perceptions. However, in order to impact perceptions, it is critical that you have taken the time to understand your core brand identity, promise, and have it organized in a manner that will lend to consistency in messaging.
Parts 2 is live and part 3 of our series is coming soon!
We are huge advocates for brand style guides. A brand style guide serves as a central reference point for all brand guidelines to ensure consistency across marketing efforts. If you do not currently have a working style guide, we recommend getting to work.