Treat your brand as an experience and bring it to life on all touchpoints
Over the next few months, digital design agency Resoluut will be spilling all secrets on digital-first branding — from strategy and design systems to motion design and UX writing. But first things first. What exactly is digital first branding? And why do you need it?
That the world has gone digital is nothing new. As brands are now also part of that world, how your audience thinks and feels about your brand is heavily influenced by the digital experience they have with the product. In an always-on digital world, brands are omnipresent. That’s why they need their own identity — and a digital heartbeat.
Video didn’t kill the radio star Digital first branding doesn’t mean you should completely ignore everything offline. On the contrary. Offline branding — in retail and media, for example — can be extremely useful to digital-minded brands. Take Netflix. Its instantly recognizable style works well on billboards, too. Digital-first branding is more like a mindset. It essentially boils down to prioritizing digital touchpoints during brand development.
As a brand, you can say whatever you want about yourself. But in the end, it’s what you do that matters. That means telling people how great you are won’t cut it. You’ve got to walk the walk.
Digital first brands aren’t built on promises, but on good experiences. Since we’re always online, everyone can experience a brand at any time. That means the opportunities are endless. But it also means brands really need to get to know their users. They should be a partner who has a conversation with you, not someone who merely talks to you. So, they need to know what they want to say while simultaneously listening to their audience.
Your branding is your product ‘Experience’ is the keyword here. A digital-first brand wants to know what’s on their target audience’s mind. What are they doing? What do they want? And how can the brand add value to their lives? If you know exactly what your users want, you can offer them a flawless experience perfectly catered to their needs. To demonstrate what that looks like, we’ll be using Spotify as an example. They’ve managed to seamlessly integrate their service with their branding.
Research shows 75% of millennials value meaningful experiences more than money. Music is an excellent way to live such an experience. Thanks to the internet, our emotional connection to music has changed. People don’t buy albums anymore. Instead, they make playlists they can listen to whenever, wherever. The audience’s experience with music is more about accessing music rather than owning it.
Of course, that’s Spotify’s proposition in a nutshell. With their strapline ‘make music personal again’, they focus on the deeper, more emotional relationship people have with music. They offer personalized playlists (Discover Weekly, Daily Mixes) and effortless ways to create your own and share them with friends. This idea of personalization lies at the core of their distinctive style. Spotify’s brand imagery visually corresponds with the emotion you feel while listening.
The colorized effect shown above is typical of Spotify. To achieve it, the company wrote a piece of software that creates the visual effect for every image, appropriate for its genre and the feeling it evokes. It’s an advanced technical system which creates brand expressions to complement the mood but are still recognizably Spotify. The effect looks good on any screen, which is where the target audience uses the service.
Strength through flexibility In the end, it’s about creating recognizable style elements that are easily adaptable to different touchpoints, so a brand’s product, personality and style all live and breathe its essence. It’s the total package that works both on- and offline.
When digital is the starting point of your brand strategy, new touchpoints are quickly and easily integrated into the user experience. Thanks to a design ecosystem that can be scaled up or down according to your needs, you can always keep your brand up-to-date. And that’s essential in a digital world in which the only thing that’s constant is change.
This is the first in a series of articles on digital-first branding. Digital design agency Resoluut talks dynamic design systems next.
Resoluut Resoluut is an Amsterdam based digital product and brand design agency. We create products and brands that do what they should. If you’re curious about Resoluut’s own digital-first branding, head to Resoluut.com.