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    brand play in ux sandbox

    Over the past few years, I've been involved in several major brand design and re-designs as a part of my overall UX offering. To me “brand” is just one of the many factors that we need to take in account in our designs. And there are as many ways to climb into the brand and identity of a company, as there are practitioners.

    A favorite set of tools for working with logo and brand design as it applies to both strategic and brass tacks UX design is the word play that is a part of the process of honing in on the "ideals" and symbolism that need to be communicated.

    After determining the name of the company, and yes, even that has changed in a couple of instances, then we work on creating the adjectives and differentiators that express what the company wants to show the world.

    Here are some general ideas of the types of words we look at for a company or offering:




    You get the idea; it immediately becomes evident where you can begin in your color and look-and-feel directions. When you go through iterations of this and other exercises that unpack all of the business agendas, it’s amazing the authenticity and fit that come out of the resulting designs.

    Often, the results provide the company with a much clearer statement of who and what they are in the world than they had before. Invariably, this provides a gorgeous communication strategy that can be flowed throughout the company in the form of content, marketing messaging and sales points.

    And in my practice, it also directly informs the product design – UI, requirements, flows and interactions spin out easily from these kind of descriptive keywords and phrases. And they’re much easier to remember and re-use when working with stakeholders, designers and engineers throughout the process as touchstones of what needs to be accomplished.

    Next on the agenda is invariably the tagline exercise. I have to be honest that I love this part of the fun so much that I include it in almost any design project that I work on. If not the company tagline, then the product, service or even project can have it’s own descriptor.

    It has to be short, catchy and not have been used by any other company or product. I consider these to be the elevator pitch of any visual design. If you can’t find these kinds of language plays for your project, then you might need to take a trip back to looking at the requirements and high-level look-and-feel goals. You should be so familiar with the offering and company at this point that this is an obvious extension of your work.

    Play it out
    Let’s take the bright, nimble, simple set of descriptors and examine how that might play out.

    Bright brings a variety of contexts. It may mean that it has a smartness about it that is communicated via the writing style and content. It may mean the colors used in the visual design. Depending on the age of the audience it may indicate a cheerful presence. You could also play it out (subtly please) in the interactions in by brightening and highlighting selections and smart personalization.

    Nimble. This is a powerful word to play with in the interaction design of your offering. To me this talks to transitions, data display and responsiveness of the product. One client who used this word as one of their descriptors also took it across to their strategy of engineering and customer service. I love when clients blow your mind by running with these types of strategic inputs.

    To play a bit with taglines I’ll make up an imaginary client who uses these keywords and has an electric motor focus for their company.

    Where drive and innovation meet
    Spin without the spend
    Smart drive
    Simplicity. Driven
    Drive for the next gen

    Yeah, so those aren’t great. But I wrote those out sitting here for the last three minutes. I think that you can start to see how throwing in an exercise like this into any UX process definitely points out where both you and client are still not clear about the focus of the company.

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