Did you know? It was never Branding vs UX

Do you think that UX and branding should be siloed? If yes, think again. With over 70% of customers in more than 10 countries saying that customer experience makes or breaks their purchase decision*, the brand and UX teams need to join forces more than ever to differentiate their brand within the marketplace.

* PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey 2017/18

Whether you are in the industry or not, if you have the right mindset about what a brand should be you know that it is a lot more than a fancy logo and a couple of eye-catching colours. A brand is the ever-changing perception of the company based on customer experience (CX). UX is an integral part of the CX that a brand offers: it deals with people interacting with your product and the experience they receive from that interaction. Therefore, by pure logic, it stands that if you design a great user experience, you are working towards a better customer experience, which in turn leads to a better perception of your brand. (Now that all this seems so obvious, it might be even more difficult to accept that bad products and bad websites still exist).

Brand Experience

Data and UX should be the main drivers of design decisions. That said, data and UX will barely make a difference unless you have the right vision for your brand and you are communicating it to your audience. That vision is the very essence of brand experience. 

Brand experiences reach targeted users before they actually interact with any of your brand products or services: at the awareness, interest and consideration stages of the purchase funnel. Relying on great, consistent design and specific messaging, a great brand strives to make the users feel a certain way and shape their perception of it. Brand experience in itself is quite a broad concept which we can divide into three for simplification:

  1. Brand identity
    When thinking about branding, the first things that come to mind are logos, slogans, colors, fonts and tone of voice. These elements – including others – in fact make up the visual identity of the brand. How this identity is applied in different contexts leads to the next point: brand consistency.
  1. Brand consistency

Consistency is key not just for fostering familiarity and trust in your users but also to differentiate from your competitors.  all the material that those are usually applied to such as business cards, billboards, advertisements, social media pages, packaging etc.That is why it is essential to have a handy, efficient style guide to maintain visual and functional brand consistency whatever the application and context (products, printed and digital media, events etc.).

  1. Brand promise

Looking good all the time is important, however a very small part of what brand experience is. A great brand communicates a specific message to its users, selling a story that sets it apart from the rest and bases it on values that keep its teams working towards the same overarching vision for the brand. What is your brand promising your users? Is it a promise you intend to keep across the board, at all touchpoints?

What is your brand promising your users? Is it a promise you intend to keep across the board, at all touchpoints?

Connecting User Experience and Brand Experience

The brand promise needs to be felt in the experience users have when interacting with your product. So how do you bridge brand experience and user experience?

Define global objectives: Having a single source of truth to be followed by everyone representing and working for the brand is essential in order for them to pursue the same goal and vision. This introduces a sense of shared purpose and ownership of the brand, which imbues meaning in product development and services. 

Define brand purpose: A brand driven by the purpose it set out for is a successful brand. Are you keeping your brand promise to your users by making it the main influencing factor for key product decisions?

Collect, analyse, identify, iterate: In order to maintain consistency of brand experience within the existing user touchpoints and interactions with your product, you need to continuously collect data and analyse it to gather insights on how to bridge any gaps, fix any existing pain points and also identify new opportunities to take the experience you are offering to a new level. Keep this in mind: consistently good should be the standard, and consistently better should be what every brand strives for.

To conclude…

The clients’ love – or lack of it – for your brand is directly proportional to UX; if your budget is tight like of many others, backlog the features and do not skimp on the experience. Branding can inform UX and UX can define branding, and that is why those teams should not be siloed, but encouraged to work hand in hand to delight customers and convert them into advocates for the brand.

Therefore, aim to convey the desired brand perception to your target audience when defining and designing the characteristics and message of your brand and functionality of your products or services, while keeping in mind that the users’ good perception of a brand turns into loyalty through great UX.