Where UX and Brand Converge and Convert
Historically, UX (user experience and the thoughtful design of how a user navigates and explores a digital interface) and brand (the culmination of how anyone experiences an organization) seemed to be strange and separate bedfellows. But times have changed.
Currently, there are still shifts taking place in the best practices of UX thinking that are now taking the full brand experience into consideration, not just a user flow. Of course, no one wants a user to get lost, confused or otherwise when navigating through a site or app, but if they don’t get the brand story while doing it, these experiences are just going through the motions.
Several evolution markers have taken place over the past few years that lead us to the convergence of brand and UX. Here’s a few key milestones on the evolution map:
- Smartphones, sites and apps everywhere. The mobile experience and app landscape has evolved the expectations consumers have from a digital experience . 70%+ of Americans now have and regularly use a smartphone. You see it everywhere. Users are tapping, swiping, pinching, zooming all day long. The well-designed mobile devices and the best apps have elevated the expectations of what a good or usable digital experience means. For brands this means user experience needs to be designed into every screen through which you connect with customers.
- Beyond promotions. Evolved brands have come to terms with the fact that they cannot live on promotions, coupons and discounts. This is a race to the bottom of market position and ultimately to a commodity. Only 8% of web surfers account for 85% of clicks on banner ads. This means only a small number of people are ripe and ready to take the actions you want them to take—even through digital ad stalking. The rest need to be wooed. Great brands with compelling intellectual and emotional stories do that.
- Brand engagement. Customer engagement sits at the top of most marketing goals and analytics. Intuitive UX alone isn’t enough. Historically brands used the “funnel” to plan their advertising and marketing. They’d spend a bundle of money on building awareness through blunt instrument advertising, and another pile of cash on driving consideration, intent and finally purchase. Now things are much more streamlined. Brands have two goals: engagement and conversion. Engagement is an art. Conversion is a science.
- A product without a story is just a widget. Building a brand or doing UX design without aligned messaging and consistent content is like building a boat that doesn’t know where it’s sailing or how many people it holds. Infusing story, that’s designed to engage, is essential in building brand conversion and loyalty. Yes, content (consistent and meaningful content) is still king.
Once upon a time, good UX was about anticipating the actions and behavior of a site user. While this is still true, evolved brands realize that they can and need to do more. UX has traditionally been a linear, analytical, right-brained process. User flow or journey maps led to design hierarchy, which defined funnels that ended in calls-to-action.
Conversely, remarkable brand design is about creating perception, motivation, desire and, ultimately, persuasion. This is part intellectual, as people don’t get confused into much, but strongly emotional as people are driven to action through emotion.
The fusion of brand stories with leading edge UX design come together to shape customer behavior. Great UX is new brand storytelling. Brand stories need to be imbedded within the experience of users, so that their journey is a meaningful and effective one.
What great brand stories and UX have in common is that they’re both invisible but fully felt, if well done and harmonized. The fusion of the two should create a seamless experience for your customers to click, swipe or tap through the stories that move them. As we continue to go through the digital integration within our lives, brands need to respond with using design thinking and storytelling to deepen customer engagement and, ultimately, conversion into lasting loyalty.