In Review - Creating a Digital-Centered Customer Experience: Branded Expression Systems

May 27, 2015 Nate Denton

In the third and final installment of our #1NWebinar series on branding, I discussed creating “digital upfront” branded expression systems and how, when well articulated, these visual systems can create a resonant and impactful digital brand experience.

BUILDING A BRAND SYSTEM

Building a Brand System

Much like building a ready-to-assemble table, all steps and elements are important to achieve a cohesive brand system. Let me explain:

Directions — The foundation for the build. This is your brand purpose, positioning, persona and essence that serve as a guidepost for developing all visual assets. Anyone who’s attempted to assemble furniture sans directions knows how frustrating it is to get halfway through only to realize you’ve put the leg on backwards. The same rule applies here.

Nuts and Bolts — The strategic plan that provides the tools and materials to bring everything together.

Design Foundation — The core elements that support a visual expression system: logos, colors, fonts and imagery.

Logo — From a visual design perspective, the logo is the most identifiable part of an organization’s brand.

    • Remember to be authentic
    • Make it memorable 
    • Design it to be scalable
    • Consider interactivity

Color Palette:

Color Palette

    • Again, remember to be authentic
    • Don’t distract the user — stay away from the “overbearing” colors that simply distract
    • Don’t offend — be aware of color combinations that may bring with them negative connotations in certain cultures
    • Account for digital constraints

Fonts — Many times fonts are overlooked but they have become hugely important for the digital experience and are one of the most artistic elements that can exist in a brand system.

    • Remember to be…authentic! (Noticing a pattern?)
    • Allow for flexibility — many times a font will only have one or two weights, which can become challenging down the road 
    • Consider the applications — certain fonts may not work well in certain applications
    • Make sure it’s web-safe

Imagery — Impactful and compelling imagery is often what draws the user in.

Imagery

    • Remember to be __________. (Hopefully you don’t need a hint.)
    • A picture says 1,000 words — communicating through an image can be much more dynamic than a written paragraph
    • Imagery is more than just photography; videos, illustrations, iconography, abstract, data visualization/infographics and cinegifs are all powerful alternatives to traditional photography
    • Consider the applications and optimize for your needs

The Touch Points — The points in which your customers experience your brand (referring to your strategic plan for guidance, of course).

Micro-interactions — Individual moments that reward the user for an action. The detailed digital elements that bring an interactive experience to life and breathe character into our digital properties.

REMEMBER THE THREE GUIDING PRINCIPLES
A key takeaway that we’ve emphasized throughout this webinar series is the three principles that guide the digital-centered experience and help organizations achieve brand clarity. Applying these concepts across all digital marketing efforts will help ensure each function, including brand planning, user experience and creative, work together to create a unified customer experience.

Authenticity — The discovery and research phase that uncovers the consistent truths within an organization’s brand.

Delivery — The vessels and touch points an organization uses to communicate its brand.

Consistency — Ensuring your brand doesn’t deviate throughout the delivery process.

To learn more about branding and creating a digital-centered customer experience, check out our post on user experience and brand and building a brand planning framework.

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Nate Denton Creative Director, Experience Design

At the time of publishing, Nate was a Creative Director at One North.

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