Before we begin this journey, we need to understand what branding is and what it isn’t. Branding is not your logo or the marketing efforts you put behind it. A brand is separate from marketing even though the lines are usually blurred in a lot of organisations. A brand is not your flyer or brochure or the merchandise you give out to staff and customers. A brand isn’t the colour palette you meticulously curated for your designs. So what exactly is a brand?
A brand is the gut feeling that a person has about your product. It is the feeling left behind when a person has interacted with your product. So how can proper branding be executed? This happens when great strategy and creativity come together. Couple this with consistently delivering on your brand promise and you have a recipe for success.
The foundation for branding is trust. If this trust is established, you can shoot for the moon and no one would question your integrity. At Flutterwave, the promise of simplifying payments for endless possibilities has always been at the forefront of our strategy. It’s not enough that this is recited now and then. It must be practised. Through every micro-interaction, we are reminded of how this promise needs to be reinforced. This gives us the edge over competitors and establishes us as the go-to payment provider for individuals and businesses.
One thing that drives a decision for users is not just the features of the product. It relies heavily on the feeling the brand gives the user. Their buying decisions rely on symbolic cues rather than price or benefits. These cues can be emphasised via the brand design that is curated by the designers. Let’s take one of the most profitable brands on the planet, Apple. Do you notice how their marketing is focused on the feeling that comes with using their products? Their 1984 ad is an example of how rebels disrupt the status quo and not about how sleek their new Mac was. Also, notice how they re-emphasize their stance on simplicity with consistent use of design elements. Their brand design also takes the brand messaging to another level.
The same thing happened with the think different ad. It looks into the lives of those who stand out from the crowd. Those who dare to think differently from everyone else. To be fair, many of us think we are different from the next person and this is usually true. We are all unique in our own way and Apple saw this and used this to deliver a product that wasn’t anywhere the same as what we are used to. It spoke out about this difference and changed an entire industry. It delivered on that promise consistently and established trust with its users.
As brand designers, how do you look at the brand you are working with and think of interpreting the brand’s ethos into visual design? You first have to look at the work you do beyond the lens of just pushing pixels. Understanding the psychology behind the design decisions you take is very important. The colours you choose, the typefaces you pick, the images and illustrations you produce. All of these have to come together in a cocktail of strategic design to translate the brand’s promise. This is so because when the brand is visually represented, it strikes a chord with the users that stays with them for a long time.
And how is this achieved? Working closely with the marketing and branding team will help translate these ideas into visual and also audio interpretations of the brand’s promise.
Before you jump on the marketing, growth end of your product strategy, take a look at your branding and how you plan on delivering that promise to your users. Have you thought about the feeling you want to leave behind when your product isn’t in the room? Do you want your brand to develop a cult following like Apple’s? There are a lot of elements involved in creating a successful brand and differentiating yours from the competition is a very important task.
Remember that price differentiation won’t serve you for long because there will always be a cheaper option. You have to aim at being the best option. So when next you are looking to launch your product, think of the variables that would make your product unique. Don’t downplay the role branding will have in the product’s life. Have sessions that explore the promise the product has for customers. Clarify the business you are in, define its core purpose as it is the major reason your product exists besides making money. And try to have fun while doing it.