The Secret to a Successful Brand is Design

A brand is an organization, service or product with a ‘personality’ that is shaped by the perceptions of the audience. In a nutshell, a brand is a gut feeling people have about you.  And, it’s the designer’s job to form the foundation of the brand. You get that feeling via smart design, which creates the experiences people have with the brand. So, brands need to create an emotional relationship with people because we are all emotional beings and have emotional relationships with brands we trust.

Many people believe a brand only consists of a few elements –colors, fonts, a logo, and a slogan. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. You might say that a brand is a ‘corporate image.’ The fundamental idea behind having a ‘corporate image’ is that everything a company does, everything it owns and everything it produces should reflect the values of the business. It is the consistency of this core idea that makes up the company, driving it, showing what it stands for, what it believes in and why they exist.

Michele Serro, Founder and CEO of Doorsteps receives a lot of compliments about the design of Doorsteps, which she is always eager to pass along to her team.  “It makes us feel good. But it depresses me at the same time,” she recently told the Huffington Post.

Why? Because, according to Serro, design should be a cost of entry. For Doorsteps, "great design" is just another way to say "the app is intuitive to use." People often talk about the power of brand. In the digital world, brand isn't about logos or taglines, as nice as those things can be. Publicity, marketing, and great brand names are necessary, but they are useless when the product experience is unpleasant.

“Brands are built off the backs of the user experience,” she explained. “Design's role is not to make something look pretty. It's to make something useful. Beauty can be a nice byproduct of deep usability, but it's never the goal.”

That's why Serro says design should accomplish three key things:

Clarify: Any website possesses an entire universe of content. Great design streamlines content so users can easily find the right nugget of content when they need it. It should be visual and easy to navigate. Information should be simplified with everything in context - including the ability to ask questions.

Be Intuitive: “When things are clear, people are happy,” said Serro. “When I search through my Gmail for a message I sent back in 2007 and I find exactly what I need, I find an odd but satisfying sense of peace.” When people browse a website that is intuitive, it mitigates the risk that they will miss the information I need.

Delight: Creating a positive emotional state for your customers matters because when customers are delighted by brand experience, they're more likely to come back. When they are frustrated with an experience, it increases the chance that they’ll find another path to success.

“The visual design should be aesthetically pleasing, but the communication must also be human,” she explained. “Good design isn't just about the pretty pictures being in the right places, but also about copywriting and interactions.”

Reassure: Doorsteps, for instance, is in the real estate industry. Today, buying a house is the biggest financial -- and possibly emotional -- purchase a person will ever make. But most real estate brands, websites and digital experiences, offer a low-end, even cheap feeling experience. And yet, there are thousands of delightful tools out there for industries that have less emotional implications than home buying.
Good design inspires confidence. Customers are more likely to trust you to store financial details, process payments, and safeguard accounts when you get the details right.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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