With so much white noise in the media ecosystem, how can we make our brand stand out? Should we focus on the brand’s tone of voice, user experience, branding itself, or should we maybe start innovating our product or service, or perhaps fully concentrate on an engagement with our target audience?
Every business should be aware of the power of great branding and has likely already carefully considered and designed all of the above.. Even then, anyone from a startup to a well-established brand will still experience constant pressure to succeed and to do even better.
Why? Because one rather important window of opportunity has been gradually narrowing down — today’s user spends only 2.5 seconds on desktop and just 1.7 seconds on mobile devices consuming any one given piece of content or platform. This is the reason why presenting confusing, overly salesly or inconsistent brand messaging is seen as one of the main causes of customer disinterest and alienation. Simply put, we’ve got just one shot at making a good first impression.
With so many service and product brands already integrated in every aspect of our lives, the rise of social media has made it crystal clear that also anyone, now more than ever, can become a brand themselves. Yet still, whatever the future might bring, it will only keep on solidifying a simple fact — that literally anything can be turned into a brand. That said, the media ecosystem is set to grow, overflow and to continue competing for everyone’s attention.
In this day and age, brands and their storytelling have to be capable of interrupting — and capturing — the audience’s attention. So if we want to stand a chance, our brand as well as every piece of our branded content has to either inform or entertain. Yet this alone won’t guarantee success. Distilling the perfectly fitting message for our customers starts with avoiding appealing to everyone. By having a more stream-lined approach we can identify our ideal customer. Then through the process of reverse-engineering this ideal customer, we can reveal how we speak to them, what they want to hear and most importantly what our brand storytelling should be.
No matter if we are a global company or a one person business, great brand storytelling revolves around authenticity. Documenting one’s journey, conveying company purpose through instances of how to solve problems, and starting a movement around a good cause, is what writes the best and most compelling stories. Transparency-driven and human-centered narratives are the single biggest drive of audience engagement. Once the audience can relate to a brand and can become a part of a conversation, a strong relationship and loyalty can be established, one that will go far beyond product and service. This is due to a simple, yet not-that-easy-to-master, aspect of brand storytelling — creating a long lasting connection. This happens when a positive emotion is triggered and then associated with the brand; great storytelling is one of the most powerful tools to do so.
That being said, social media has changed the entire media ecosystem for the better — from on the nose statements such as “buy these products” to “I stand for this and if you share my values, here’s something you might be interested in.” Also now, people’s expectations are no less than pure excellence in regards to how they experience brands and how one might tell their story. Therefore shifting our focus towards authentic expression of our brand values can only result in great brand storytelling. Pairing that with our ace product or service, while also projecting a consistent and well-thought out brand image and digital experience, will remain the magic ingredients in the recipe for running not only successful, but also well-loved business.
It’s impossible to design for 100% of users. That said, we should always aim to keep diversity in mind — from visual impairment, allergies to neurodiversity — especially when making design decisions. Questioning how accessible, effective and inclusive our work is will help us to shift design from good to great, and then to even better. That’s when we know that every design and subsequently every user will always benefit from our inclusive design approach. These principles will help you to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments:
Aren’t we, designers — and in fact all creative minds — rather good at finding inspiration and being creative? We click through our favourite visual blogs, flip through pages of that well-thumbed book or venture to design stores and galleries. We learn where and how to look to get our creative wires sparking, landing on the next great idea.
As designers and problem-solvers, we are accountable for the ever-increasing importance of design as well as for the role it now plays in today’s life, society and innovation. It’s our responsibility to not only make design aesthetically appealing, but also to make any design solution — first and foremost — the best it can be.