Use Brand To Connect The Dots In Product
This article is part 2 of our series on how to improve your product brand. Be sure to read part 1 to learn what it takes to push the boundaries of product brand in today’s design environment.
Brand is critical to your product’s success. But it can’t exist inside a vacuum. To create a better product, you have to keep the other product disciplines in mind—and it’s your brand that often connects the many dots that make up your product.
Think about it this way: A brand that’s disconnected from product marketing could mean you end up making big promises that won’t be fulfilled. A brand that ignores the finer points of your product design will mean your brand is less equipped to convey how people should be changed when using the product.
Considering how brand connects with your other product work allows it to be a reinforcement tool. Brand is your audience’s first impression of your product and everything it represents—when done right, brands that are led by product become a vehicle for continuity and a great product experience. Today’s article, with advice from Innovatemap Brand Strategy & Design Principal Andy Kennedy, will show you how to get there.
No matter your industry or business model, people like consistency. Brands alienate people when they share an inconsistent message about the product they represent, or when they create feelings that don’t line up with the actual user experience.
Communicating the problem your product solves through brand is only half of the battle. Your brand gets an edge when it considers all the other factors that influence your product and, from those, creates a clear, continuous experience for your audience.
Continuity matters because it shapes perception. The experience you create for your audience through brand will not only shape their decision to buy, but also how they feel about your organization as a whole. If positive feelings abound, not only are customers more likely to buy your product; it’s also likely they’ll grow to trust your higher mission and give you the feedback you need to accelerate your brand further.
Apple recently passed $3 trillion in market value, according to The Verge, making it one of the most profitable companies to exist. When you think about the continuity present in Apple’s brand experience, it’s easy to see why. Apple created a premium brand that is clear, consistent, and easily identifiable. Whether you’re browsing Apple Podcasts or getting help in a physical Apple store, Apple delivers on a premium brand with an equally great product experience to match.
Challenges To Continuity
Achieving continuity can be a tall order, of course. You have to balance creating an experience your audience can trust while being adaptable and making room for the surprises that will keep your brand fresh.
We’ve identified two main challenges to continuity:
1. Your brand is built for the wrong audience. If your brand isn’t informed by the valuable lessons you can unearth from product marketing and product management, start there. Your insights don’t have to be perfect—and as you grow and evolve your product, you’ll have to continuously research the market to know what to do next. But even a preliminary or early-stage brand only works if you have a keen understanding of the audience you are trying to reach.
2. Your brand experience is disconnected from the user experience. Your brand shouldn’t, and can’t, reveal everything about your product; that would be too complicated. But your product design and intended experience should inform how you approach brand design, and vice versa. Disconnecting the two can mean your audience feels one way about your brand and another about your actual product.
How To Create Continuity
Creating continuity is about connecting the dots that emerge in your product work. To start identifying where, and what, those dots are, you have to let your product vision lead the way.
Aligning your brand work around your product vision is the best and easiest way to connect the dots, because product vision (should) inform all the other work you’re doing to build a product.
One great example of this in practice is the product Typeform. Typeform’s product is simple—its software to create forms and surveys, like our own community membership application. But building and interacting with forms in Typeform is different from most options out there, and that’s because Typeform fulfills its brand promise by staying true to its product vision: that forms should be more human, like a conversation.
Thinking about the impact of your product on your brand should also transcend digital experiences. Yes, most of us spend the majority of our time online searching for and purchasing digital products. But physical tools like environmental ads also remain incredibly valuable in communicating who you are, what you stand for, and what your product uniquely contributes to the market. The trick is to make sure you deliver a consistent brand experience across the board.
Brand is something to behold, but it can’t operate in a silo. Your product design should inform your brand design, and vice versa; and because brand is the public face of your product vision, it should be the connection point for all the thoughts that go into your product.
If you’re building a brand of your own, visit our article library to read up on how you can push the boundaries of your brand design.