I wish I could figure out a substitute for the word brand in the context of technology, because it's frequently met with negligence - sometimes even hostile resistance.
There are so many misconceptions about branding out there that it's safe to say very few people properly understand its true essence. Once we understand it s true essence, we realize we should embrace the concept of branding as the core of service design.
Brand may be an ugly word, but you'd better start loving it.
Why? Let's start with the easy part:
Branding will help make the digital service you are designing and building more recognizable, remarkable and memorable. Adding a catchy name, some beautiful visual design and clever growth hacking or marketing mechanisms to the product can make it stand out from the crowd. We all agree on this, right? The problem is that this is where most people stop. Don't. There's so much more to it.
If you leave it at that, all you'll have done is create another island in a vast ocean full of isolated islands. It's not true branding and you'll fail to reach people's hearts. Instead of superimposing a layer of branding and marketing to an otherwise completed service concept with all its features and functions defined, I'd like to challenge you to let brand design thinking guide your whole service design process from day one.
You'll create an ocean, not a mere island.
It may sound like letting the tail wag the dog, but it’s not. You just need to widen your conception of branding beyond the obvious visible elements. In the right hands brand design work can give your service an appealing story to tell and an interesting personality. Brand design can reveal the real YOU behind the good looks and give your service the sort of manners that helps make real friends. If these brand descriptors are integrated into your service design work, suddenly all the features and functions make sense and feel consistent as well as right.
People don’t love Airbnb because of its technical features or UX and UI alone. They love what the service stands for and what they can achieve or experience with it - the magic that happens when spending time with it. The actual features and functions feel right because they are anchored in the brand personality and promise.
This approach is not limited to new brands, either. Brand integration is even more important for established brands. For a while now, the advertising industry has acknowledged that modern marketing communication is not about claiming things - it'ss about behaving in a certain fashion.
It's so true.
Digital services offer plenty of touchpoints where brand behavior is tested consecutively and without mercy. During these encounters your brand will either deliver on its promises or fail to do so. Not enough thought is given to this fact. All too often services are built for the sake of it, forgetting that it should all start with the company's strategic brand and service promise. This brand and service promise should be present at all times.
You are in a position to change this. Get out of your marketing silo and start driving the service design process, too. They belong together.