During a recent trip to the United Sates to meet Brandworkz clients at Silicon Valley Bank and Varian Medical Systems, I also had the opportunity to meet up with people from Facebook, Method, and MetaDesign. It was a fascinating trip, loaded with interesting experiences and stimulating meetings with some great people.

The collective insights of professionals I met, coupled with my own personal experiences of interaction with brands during the trip, prompted me to expand on some of the ideas I discussed in an article last year. So here goes.

1. The UI/UX Axis

Digital user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are key. In more and more areas, the primary way the customer connects to and interacts with a business is digital rather than human interface—though, of course, brand identity continues to feed powerfully into the digital experience.

Here's an example from personal experience: At New York's JFK Airport, I noticed that the food outlets featured touch-screen terminals on which customers made selections and ordered meals. Counter staff were there only to hand me the food once it was in the bag. My entire encounter with this brand—until the food was handed over by a human being—relied on the onscreen user interface: how it presented the food and how easy it was to order. In an airport bar, again a screen, not a person, was taking the orders. We selected Budweisers, which duly arrived by waiter.

However, two interesting observations emerged from this experience.

  1. Budweiser packaging design traditionally has masses of intricate detail, designed for the physical world, and it is certainly not ideal when rendered as an on-screen thumbnail image. But therein lies the power of a long-established brand!
  2. Though Bud may be able to cut it in any country, what about a newly established brand, or one that a foreigner may not recognize? I'd have a real problem working out what I was ordering from the on-screen image if I didn't know Budweiser—unless everything was quick and easy to assimilate.

2. A Clear and Simple Message

It follows from the above that when developing a brand it's essential that the visual and verbal messaging be kept as simple as possible. If there is no human on hand to guide and persuade consumers, digital sales must begin with a crystal-clear, simple message and visuals—differentiated from the competition and totally consistent with brand identity.

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image of Jens Lundgaard

Jens Lundgaard is founder and chief executive officer of Brandworkz, a UK-based provider of brand management software and project implementation consultancy.