Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
This is true not just for laptops and smartphones, of course, but also for brand experiences. Good brand experience design goes beyond just slapping a logo on a trade show display and calling it a day. The most effective way to design a brand experience is to get at the nuances of what makes that brand unique.
Of course, Jobs also did a remarkable job of making his products aesthetically pleasing, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Design has to work, while ALSO looking and feeling great. How can you translate that into brand experience design?
We’ll walk you through it one step at a time.
What is Brand Experience Design?
Brand experience design is an approach to creating custom products or immersive experiences that convey a brand’s story, culture, and values in a seamless fashion that doesn’t interfere with the customer’s experience.
Best Practices for Effective Brand Experience Design
Develop a Brand Experience Design Strategy
The best brand experiences begin with a solid strategy. To deliver a multi-sensory, immersive experience, you must begin by understanding the story behind your brand, and the message you want to convey. Next, who is your audience? Is this a retail redesign in an upscale shopping district or a bohemian festival pop-up? Is it a sleek, high-tech event expo or a family-friendly entertainment venue? Understanding the audience and the environment the experience will live in will shape and inform the design, and help ensure that your brand experience is imbued with the right look, feel, and tone.
Finally, get clear on your goals. What are you hoping to achieve with this project? Whether you're looking to build awareness, boost customer loyalty or drive sales, having clearly defined objectives is another essential step in your strategy. Once you’ve established the foundation of story, audience, and goals, you can then tackle the more tangible constraints like budget, timeline, and lifespan.
Collaborate with Designers and Engineers
With a solid strategy in place, the next stage in brand experience design is to collaborate with designers and engineers. These are the folks that can help brainstorm how to bring your vision to life, and how to best create the components of the experience to match the end-use requirements, budget, and timeline and importantly, can help ensure that the project will be appropriately durable for both its final destination and the audience that will be engaging with it.
A good design team will leverage digital modeling to confirm scale, detail, and finish options and precise angles, dimensions, and positioning. These 3D fabrication tools help you better communicate with your team throughout the design stage and many iterations of the project to ensure everyone is on the same page and can feel confident moving into production.
Choose an Experience Design Partner with Brand Expertise
Thanks to myriad custom fabrication methods including 3D printing and CNC machining, there is almost nothing that cannot be built, but there are often a multitude of ways to approach it, so choosing the right brand experience design partner is key. Here are some tips for finding the best match:
- Consider experience, location and familiarity with your industry
- Do they truly understand brand experience design?
- Get a quote and time estimate
- Ask questions: What’s included and what is not? Do they deliver and install? Tear down? Will anything be outsourced? What happens if they fail to meet the deadline?
- Evaluate fit: How responsive are they? Does the budget and timeline work? Have they completed similar projects?
While many production and fabrication companies can build products to your specifications, it helps to have a vendor who can act as a collaborator, who understands the story and the intent behind the project and can translate the nuances of the brand to the final product.
Bring your Brand Experience Design to Life
You’ve planned, strategized, designed and assembled the perfect team – now it’s time to watch it all come to life. But launching your new brand experience design is not the finish line, so before you pat yourself and your team on the back, it’s vital to take the time and assess how well the project is delivering.
What are customers saying about it? What is the employee response? Is it meeting the goals and objectives you established in the strategy phase? Is your marketing team monitoring social media mentions and earned media generated from the experience? To get a complete picture of not just your ROI, but also a fuller understanding of what worked well and what may have fallen short, it’s important to stay engaged with how the experience is actually working on the ground.
Ultimately, the goal of brand experience design is to deliver a company’s unique value proposition to a customer by allowing them to directly engage physically and also emotionally with the brand. By communicating in a visual, aural and tactile way, brands can convey their values, aesthetic and benefits without being overtly sales-y. This nuanced approach also allows customers to experience and get to know a brand without feeling ambushed by aggressive marketing tactics. It’s design that works, in other words.
Ready to leverage brand experience design for your next marketing campaign? At Bridgewater Studio, we help clients through every step of the process, from ideation to installation. Our end-to-end approach streamlines the experience for clients, who enjoy having one budget, one point of contact and knowing that each stage of their project is being handled by one diverse and talented team. Find out how we can help bring your next brand experience to life by booking a no-obligation introduction to Bridgewater today.