How do branding and user experience/UX overlap?
While brand and UX are unique and individual disciplines, they both rely on each other for a business to be successful. The customer does not distinguish between their user experience and their branding experience. Rather, both feed into a total, unified experience with any product or service.
Customers today demand consistent, seamless interactions that that meet industry standard experiences wherever they are in the purchase process or use situation. They do not differentiate between their experiencing of the brand and their use of a product. For example, Amazon’s brand is consistently reinforced as much by their industry benchmark shopping cart experience as by their logo.
The key concepts of brand and UX
Understanding the key concepts that make up the intersection of brand and UX helps both disciplines create outstanding experiences. The concepts central to both can be understood when we look at a broad cross-section of both in thought leadership, marketing, research, and education content in online spaces. Using Metametrix, a cultural analytics tool, we can clearly see what concepts are important to both brand and user experience. These insights make it easier for practitioners in each individual space to meet the needs of both.
The concept most consistently found at the intersection of brand and UX is “creative.” Creativity as a concept includes the visual aspects of both branding and user interface and also encompass design thinking, creative visualization, and storytelling, all of which depend upon creativity. It makes sense that practitioners of both disciplines have to have creativity as one of their primary skills. Without creativity, a brand becomes stale and generic and user experiences become perfunctory and unengaging.
After creativity “UX strategy” and “brand identity” are the next most important concepts at the intersection. Both these concepts are foundational for their respective disciplines and impact the realization of each. Without strategy, user experience develops in a vacuum and may or may not achieve the goals of the product. UX strategy ensures that the needs of the user are at the center of the experience. Similarly, without a brand identity, brands are inconsistent and don’t make a strong impression over time. A clear, strong brand identity is the foundation for a brand’s creative expression and articulation.
The next three concepts at the intersection of brand and UX are components of brand identity and are leveraged by UX—“brand voice,” “design,” and “illustration.” Each is a critical component of creating a good experience: how to best speak on behalf of the brand, how to design for the user, and how to use visuals to communicate.
Finally, we find concepts related to how brand and UX can impact users—by contributing to a “better world,” “by creating a user experience that is appropriate,” and making “content more usable,” especially for “mobile UI and UX.” That these aspirational concepts made the top ten concepts is remarkable and heartening. It may demonstrate that practitioners of both disciplines are committed to improving products, helping communication, and bettering society in general. These goals, along with the more traditional financial and shareholder goals, demonstrate the passion of the creative people in the industry and their higher professional aspirations. Knowing these aspirational factors are part of the intersection of brand and UX supports the premise that each benefits the other. Together they have the power to motivate customers and engage users to purchase, subscribe or utilize products in meaningful and sustained ways.
When we stand at the intersection of brand and UX, we are engaged in all these concepts. We use our creativity and expertise to develop strategies and build experiences that incorporate brand and UX and we take a long view that sees past silos to creatively integrate all aspects of marketing, brand, and UX.
Visualizations courtesy of Metametrix.