08/04/2015

Stronger Broader Deeper Brands

By Nick Dormon

The need to brand the product experience as a whole is more prevalent than ever before. Stronger, broader and deeper branding. 

My background is originally in product design but 15 years ago I became intrigued by branding. As a product designer I was interested in how products and people interacted and how that interaction made the user more able, and the product more useful. The way a sushi chef works with his razor sharp Santoku knife is wonderful to behold and results in the most delicate of culinary artistry- but this was perhaps a romantic and nostalgic view of product design. In the modern complex world of technology in which I worked I could see that users found complex devices difficult to understand and engage with. This is where I thought brand design might play a role in connecting the product and the user emotionally, bypassing all that functional complexity. So I went on a journey of enlightenment; working with some of the top packaging design agencies to learn how branding was done.

Initially I was surprised to hear that my new employers and their clients saw a different reason for brand design- to sell more product. Back then it was all quite straightforward: the Ad agencies raised awareness through their communications and we made the product standout on shelf through its packaging - job done - simple - sale made.  However, sadly, post sale, the product experience was never really our concern. I embraced this new  “consumer” focused challenge with vigour but never lost sight of my original quest to better connect the user and product through branding.

Then technology steps in and the world gets way more complicated again so that the simple world of marketing shatters into a thousand new consumer touchpoints. So what should the brand designer do to manage this?  I thought, wait a minute, the product experience is the only constant in this complex relationship and the only way loyalty and advocacy can truly be managed and fostered.

My original desire to brand the product experience should now be definitely part of the mix.  So I and a bunch of like-minded creative individuals at Echo decided to reinvent branding not as a siloed activity but as a continuum connecting every consumer interface with a co-ordinated brand story that leads all the way from communications and sales and right though the product experience.

This meant three things:

One – we had to have a STRONG brand idea that is relevant and applicable to both marketing and product touch points.  We had to go back to basics and reconfigure the brand purpose, values and personality to work harder in this complex mix. This required collaboration with many stakeholders - and that’s great because we love thinking, planning, and creating with diverse folk.

Two – we had to create and orchestrate the BREADTH of brand and product touch points giving each a strong identity and purpose. We needed to be a diverse eclectic of thinking and creative people to do this – which is lucky because that’s exactly what we are – a haven for non-conformists collaborators.

Three – we needed to design how the product connects with the user from start to sustainable finish. And this is where the long journey I’ve been on comes to the fore. From all the experiences we’ve had along the way I, and the great people who have come on the same journey as me, now have a really good idea how to brand DEEPER product experiences.

Game on.

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