Published on March 30th 2017
Share this post
So you’ve established your brand purpose, you’ve got a robust business plan, you’re building your presence in as many media and marketing channels as you can think of. You’re ready to take over the world, surely nothing can stop you, right?
Well maybe so, but what about your customers? Have you really considered how they use and interact with your brand at every level and most importantly how they feel about the experience of your brand? User Experience or UX has become a brand necessity. Technology advances over the last decade have shown that brands are no longer in control of their own customer’s decision making. In fact it’s the reverse. Customers or ‘users’ are in control of the brand. Brands adapt to their users demands more than ever - the customer has never been more right.
Brand loyalty is a clear objective for all companies and not only is it imperative that it’s product or service delivers on what it promises but how a customer interacts, engages and uses that product or service has become equally important in order to achieve this. We’ve all witnessed the public reaction to logo redesigns such as Gap and University of California, where the power of brand loyalty encouraged these brand giants to bow to public opinion and re-instate their original brand marques and more recently organisations choosing to go back to their brand roots to accommodate loyal customers, such as Co-op and Natwest. However, user experience fails are rarely publicised. For example when Microsoft reinstated the Windows ‘Start Button’ after loyal customers were enraged about it’s Windows 8 removal, or when Facebook made some fundamental UX changes and users threatened to close their accounts. Maybe these design changes were actually good solutions but it was the way in which they were implemented and introduced that upset users. People like change but not enforced change.
Great user experience, on the other hand, can have a fundamentally positive impact on brand loyalty too. The Ebay mobile app is a joy to use and so successful that after launch, a massive 43% of Android smartphone users dowloaded it. Ebay has been at the forefront of innovation in mobile commerce for several years and this focus on user experience has helped to strengthen their brand.
Up until recently user experience and brand experience have been treated separately, digital design often being seen as an after thought following a brand creation or refresh. The majority of UX designers came from front-end development backgrounds where brand was something that was predetermined and set in stone before a pixel was filled. Now, more and more UX designers are multi-disciplinary, with branding backgrounds, and increasingly UX is being considered as part of the strategic brand process.
Detail is massive in user experience, the subtle difference between what makes a user happy can be a big decision. But are we increasingly failing the user? Custom template web design platforms such as Squarespace or Wordpress, where business owners can create simple, brochure style websites for a very small budget have been very successful, a growing market over the last 5 years. They are a great way of entering the marketplace with a credible look and feel but when it comes down to the finer details of user experience, these off-the-shelf solutions are either very visually generic, meaning that they are not unique to the overall brand experience and most importantly the specific needs of the user are being overlooked. Generic user interfaces are exposed as being less effective when tested against a considered interface design, proving that these platforms are best used behind the scenes of a bespoke design solution.
The great thing about smart UX is that it’s user driven. User data testing helps to improve the experience, improving the engagement constantly, no other design works in such a real-time, proven way. This added to the overall experience of a brand can only strengthen it.
If building brand loyalty is a priority then every detail counts, so if you’re thinking of brand experience PLUS user experience then think again. Consider it as one thing – your brand (UX)perience.