Multi-brand Design

We look into the organisation and thinking behind multi-brand design in the digital age.

Digital real estate is becoming ever more competitive with brands jostling to take pride of place in the customer journey.

The role of the experience designer is to balance the needs of the business with that of the customer and to create positive outcomes for both. But brands must also be aware that the customer’s story is much bigger than the business’ view on it and all design must be sensitive to this.

In a joined up world, who takes the credit?

At Foolproof, we’ve worked with companies who sell products, services and brands; companies who manufacture products; companies who build software and digital services; companies who run networks; companies who provide or utilise data; companies who process payments; companies who provide communication channels; companies who act as intermediaries and enablers for B2B, B2C and P2P marketplaces; and companies who help pick up the pieces when things go wrong. All these companies want to reap the rewards of enabling a positive customer experience – that’s why they came to us.

Many talked in terms of brand awareness. And many are at the centre of their own world. For them, it makes sense that their brand is noticed by the customer and associated with the positive experiences people have.

In helping design these experiences we’ve worked with people of all kinds, 1000s of them. When they tell stories about experiences they’ve had, their stories often include very few brands. But when you analyse the experiences they’ve described, they usually involve many brands.

In addition, there are a plethora of enabling brands who want to take a bit of the credit such as network providers and payment processors, and all the other brands shouting from the side-lines in the digital and physical worlds.

This is increasing all the time as the digital world becomes more joined up. More and more brands want to be positively associated with the story, take a bulk of the credit, or at least noticed for the part they played. Meanwhile, customers expect ever more frictionless experiences where they can seamlessly move between place, device, platform, service and UI.

4 ways to design for this competing UX and business goal

1. Own the whole ecosystem. Companies like Apple recognise this and want to own as much of the ecosystem as possible. This not only helps them increase their revenue and ensure it will function, but also delivers a simpler brand experience for the user. Other companies, like Google, are taking the opposite stance and promoting openness, sharing, and interoperability. They want to be the glue which holds a rich tapestry of specialist providers together.

2. Be understated, but excellent. The days of brands shouting for attention need to end. It displays arrogance and is increasingly annoying to savvy users. Many companies are understating their logos, preferring to let the proposition, quality of experience, and presentation of the service do the talking. E.g. Airbnb’s logo is just 28 pixels wide and barely visible over video. The name appears briefly when the page initially loads, but then disappears. Brands who focus on getting the proposition and the holistic design right for users can afford to be less up front in their branding

3. Use branding deliberately when it will enhance the user experience. Don’t be shy to use a logo where it will act as a stamp of authenticity or safety, e.g. Verisign. In this case, the brand is standing apart from the experience saying “You can trust these guys”. Independence is key here. Or where it will help people navigate complex information such as on airline boards or price comparison engines.

4. Create a space for credits. This may be in the digital real estate e.g. footers or the end of a process, or in a more temporal, removed real estate. Imagine an app which displays your brand engagement in the same way as your devices currently illustrate memory use, or physical activity through passive observation. This could draw from the physical and digital worlds you pass through.

Related articles