How do UX and Branding Co-Exist?
Brand and UX have traditionally been seen as separate disciplines that solve two separate problems. In reality the two are interconnected and dependent on one another. The values that a brand represents can be thought of as goals to aim for in every single experience we create for our users. Each new feature we create should be derived from both the promise our brand claims it will deliver on, and our customers’ needs. Brand gives foundation and purpose to UX, and in turn, UX design helps us ensure the experiences we create match or enhance the brand values we promise to consumers. In this article we’ll discuss the interconnectedness of brand and user experience.
Brand is Experience
A brand is how a product, company or individual is perceived by those that experience it. It is the recognizable feeling evoked when experienced by those who encounter them. The consumer’s perception towards a brand is largely shaped by their experience with brand touchpoints.
Brand gives direction and purpose to UX
The purpose of the user experience is to create outcomes that meet the desires of the users. These user desires are in large, set by the brand itself. What a brand values, portrays and promises will attract a certain type of consumer with certain sets of expectations. For example, the Starbucks brand will attract a certain type of consumer that will have certain types of expectations of outcomes (eg. quality coffee, good service, feeling of community), due to their experiences with the brand. The Dunkin Donuts brand will of course draw a different type of user and this brand will have different UX expectations and outcomes to solve for.
A brand’s ability to attract and exclude certain types of users is what ultimately fuels and gives direction and purpose to our UX methods. Brand greatly influences the outcomes that UX is trying to create in every user experience.
UX Tools For a better Brand
If a brand promises customers a fast and easy shopping experience, with great customer service, but the brand’s app doesn’t deliver these things, the inconsistency between the brand promise and the experience is very detrimental. It is important to use UX methods like usability testing to ensure the app experience is on par with the brand’s promise. UX design generally can be relied on to create touchpoints that customers love to use, improving brand perception.
Customer journey mapping is a popular research tool that allows companies to consider how customers interact with the brand as they pursue their personal objectives (e.g. a customer journey for starbucks would include getting to starbucks in addition to ordering with their app.). This does not only include digital touchpoints, but any touchpoint a customer can interact with your brand: call centers, parking lots, tv spots, brick and mortar stores, interactions with cashiers, even the washroom at an establishment. It is important to consider every single touchpoint because any negative interaction that is associated with your brand can hurt the consumer’s perception of your brand.
It’s also important to analyze and adapt to current and changing user perceptions over time. Interviews, social media sentiment analysis, and other methods give us a gauge on the current and shifting perspectives of our consumers, and allow us to adapt when necessary.
The way we portray our brand across channels acts as a lure that attracts certain types of consumers and sets a tone of consumer expectation that a company must execute on at every touchpoint. The consumer expectations set by the brand are what we aim to fulfill using UX methodology.