How Branding can help UX projects
Photo credit: Elvira Méndez | @elviramendezphoto
Branding, understood as a Brand strategy and communication can be of great help and should be one of the aspects to take into account when developing UX, UI and SD projects
Summary: An entity’s branding goes beyond being a simple support or a guide; it can give us much more if we know how to make the of what it offers. It can be one of the cornerstones of any design project. In the end, every project that we carry out is done, in its broadest sense, for a Brand. Discover the 8 ways in which Branding can help UX projects.
Why are we doing this?
If we learn to squeeze everything out of what Branding can offer us, it can help us to see projects in a different light, think differently about the tasks involved and thus find solutions that otherwise we would not have thought of.
What happens when we start a project?
Normally we start a project with the objectives and limits. This info is usually given to us by the Project Owner, which can be people from IT, Marketing or goodness knows who.
I believe that a comprehensive briefing is essential to start a project.
It doesn’t have to be particularly long and tedious, but it should have to contain information about the brand we’re doing the project for.
We should be asking about the following aspects:
1. Tone of Voice
2. Brand Personality
3. Identity Manuals
4. Brand Culture
5. Brand Perception
6. Knowing the project’s stakeholders
7. Business strategy
We are going to expand these aspects one by one.
1. TONE OF VOICE
|Whatever it is, every brand has its own tone of voice. The tone of voice is the expression of the people behind the brand. The voice of the brand is the consistency in the choice of words, the attitude and the values of the brand when addressing the target audience or others. It is how a brand conveys its brand personality to the external audience.|
2. BRAND PERSONALITY
If you ask them, most brands want to be seen or consider themselves as Empathetic, Kind, Innovative and Close. It seems that these four are a “no brainer”; that’s to say, of little consideration and depth. A brand based on these four is not going to stand out much compared to its competitors.
In addition to the 5 brand stereotypes, Sincerity (plain, honest, wholesome, cheerful) Enthusiasm (daring, inspired, imaginative, up-to-date) Ability (trustworthy, smart, successful) Sophistication (high class, charming) Roughness (natural, tough). There are other personality types …
The 12 Archetypes of Jung that, in my opinion, gives us more variety and depth. Carl Jung defined 12 archetypes that can well be used to carry out the process of building the brand personality of your company. The 12 Jungian archetypes are:
What does the brand personality bring to my project?
If, when creating and designing, we wear one of these “personality caps”, it will help us to propose more original solutions in a way that otherwise we would not have thought of. Eg. M&M’s (archetype: Jester) or Pantene (archetype: Lover)
3. IDENTITY MANUALS
|The ID manual should be one of the first requirements when starting a project. A good visual ID manual should provide us with the basics: correct uses of the logo, fonts, colors, visual style of graphic material (illustrations and photography) and icons and symbols. But then again, a great visual ID manual (or a Brand manual) will go beyond the purely visual and tell us about the soul of the brand; their values, beliefs and culture.|
Many companies have “Brand Central” websites which contain many assets, examples and downloadable material relating to their brands. These are usually the best places to find the most up-to-date branding material.What impact can Identity Manuals have on your project?
Obviously a Visual Identity manual will explain the basics which will help in developing hi-res wireframes, mock-ups and prototypes. But if we can get our hands on our clients Brand Book (or similar) then we can develop solutions which will be in line with the clients values. This, in turn, may help you win over some of the more skeptical ones.
Identity Manual Tip: ask the Project Owner if they can supply you with a Brand Book or even access to their Brand Central web (if they have one).
4. BRAND CULTURE
What is brand culture?
Culture refers to the set of material and spiritual goods of a social group transmitted from generation to generation in order to guide individual and collective practices. It includes language, processes, ways of life, customs, traditions, habits, values, patterns, tools and knowledge.
A good example of how a brand materialises its culture on tangible actions is BBVA’s TCR (Transparency Clarity Responsibility) values.
What does knowing the brand culture contribute to my project?
In a way brand culture is similar to point 3. Identity Manuals, but even more so. If we consider that a Culture is the expression and manifestation of a set of Beliefs and Values, then maybe we should take our design cues from the way our client’s brand manifests itself. Look at their physical spaces (offices, stores, etc.) their communication, their company rules, their other designs and then ask yourself “Does my design solution fit in with their Culture”
5. BRAND PERCEPTION
|Brand perception is a very personal matter… We all perceive brands individually. Eg. Apple lovers vs Apple haters. It is related to the Personality of the Brand; that is to say, you can like them or not. It is important to know how the brand, for whom you are doing a project, wants to be perceived.|
Ask them if they are in a process of brand perception change. In this case, ask them how should the transformation from the “As is” to the “To be” perception be carried out?
What does brand perception contribute to my project?
Ask yourself the question “What can I do to change the perception of the brand?” and “What do I have in my arsenal to reflect this change?”. Well, in your arsenal you probably have all the following aspects: Content generation, Visual style, Interaction design, User experience, Tone of voice, Product and Service design. Not bad, right?
How to change brand perception in three steps:
- Understand how people really perceive the brand
- Align the brand with the public’s positive points
- Reach your audience with a personalised message at the right time
6. KNOWING THE PROJECT’S STAKEHOLDERS
What impact can having correctly identified the Stakeholders have on your project?
Knowing our project’s Stakeholders (and I don’t mean the target audience/Users) helps us with the following:
- Better definition the project and our role in it
- Know who should attend workshops
- Know who we are addressing when we write texts within the project: ex. questionnaires, presentations, etc.
- Know what the decision chain is
- Changing our tone based on who we’re addressing (PO’s, CEO’s, our team, etc.)
- Know precisely who we are designing for
How can we start to identify and organize Stakeholders?
We can start by defining the types of Stakeholders in or project:
- Suppliers and Partners
Once we have identified who’s who, we can prioritise our involvement and communication with them within the scope of our project. Possibly the most important in the project is the Petitioner. This is usually the Product Owner, the IT dept., the Marketing dept. and / or the Digital Transformation owner. In short, the one that signs the cheques.
7. THE BUSINESS STRATEGY
How can knowledge of a business strategy influence the design of solutions?
Although the business strategy is not strictly a brand strategy, it is true that both are closely linked. Knowing the context of the project, from the business perspective, allows us to focus on the different aspects of interaction design.
Let’s imagine that, in our project, the business requires some of the following aspects; capturing data, business repositioning, sales increase, new products and/or services. It is in our hands to be able to provide a solution to these requirements, therefore:
Capturing data —— can be resolved with ——> Registration process, Newsletter
Business repositioning —— can be resolved with ——> New channels, products / services
Increase sales —— can be resolved with ——> 1-to-1 Contact, Special offers channels
New products / services —— can be resolved with ——> Newsletter, Contents and Channels
Let’s understand this better with an example.
When Apple Retail were planning their Apple Stores, one of the business goals was to increase sales. This requirement led Apple Store designers to seek a solution to motivate the purchase and avoid the Buyer Demotivation. That is, when someone is in a queue to pay for what they have in the basket and, in the time it takes to get to the checkout, they have thought twice about what they have and do not buy half of what they had in mind. The solution they came up with was not having a checkout. They designed tables, distributed throughout the Store, that integrated the purchase POS. As there were no checkouts, buyers had to ask the Store Staff to enable the purchase thereby increasing sales.
What impact can benchmarking have on your project?
Benchmarking is essential to any search for a solution. Its value lies in wondering … Has this been done before? Let’s quickly point out that what we’re dealing with is not UX benchmarking (understood as a part of the user testing process) and has nothing to do with metrics. Once we’ve kicked-off the project we’ll probably start coming up with many cool and seemingly great and unique solutions to the problems our project entails. But before you go ahead and tell your team about your great ideas, just step back for a moment and ask yourself “How unique is my idea? Has it been done before?”. The answer is that in one way or another it probably has; this is where Benchmarking comes in handy. Benchmarking in this context is all about discovering how our proposed solution measures up against what other people have done when facing similar design problems.
Quite simply there’s no fast way of benchmarking UX design solutions other that doing a bit of Google-centered research.
Benchmarking Tip: Look for well written articles about specific design problems/solutions such as “First Impressions – A Guide to Onboarding UX”. These will point you to the best practices in your chosen field.
We’re going to finish up just by going through the 8 ways in which Branding can help UX projects
- Tone of Voice: Research the tone of voice of the competition. The tone is not limited to copywriting, it is also the visual tone. Consider different tones you can use
- Brand Personality: Which of the archetypes resembles your brand? Discover the 12 Jungian archetypes
- Identity Manuals: A good ID Manual is great but a Brand Book or Brand Central website is even better
- Brand Culture: The way to manifest and manifest brand values. Ask yourself, what’s the culture of the project’s brand? what feeling do I want to provoke? how can I manifest culture in the solutions that I design?
- Brand Perception: Between current perception (As is) and desired perception (To be), ask yourself; what can I do to change the perception of the brand? what do I have in my arsenal to reflect this change?
- Knowing the project’s stakeholders helps us with the following; a better definition the project and our role in it, know who we are addressing when we write texts within the project, knowing what the decision chain is and changing our tone based on who we’re addressing
- Business strategy: Ask yourself, what is the Business context of the project? what’s in my hands to land the business strategy?
- Benchmarking: ask yourself, how unique is my idea? has it been done before?. Look for the benchmark projects and well written articles about specific design best practices.
Author: john williamson
If you’re interested in a course in which Branding combines with UX and want to learn how to develop an engaging brand that satisfies both business needs and user experience; Agencia YOU has developed a course for Domestika which will teach you all you need to know.