The love-hate relationship between branding and digital products
Digital is everywhere
It has never been more popular than today—the use of mobile and web applications. In 2020 almost 100 billion downloads were made only in the mobile games segment (resource, Statista). With the high demand, the production of digital solutions has gone up dramatically over the last couple of years. And the demand will only continue to grow.
Many companies are producing digital products for different purposes—work tools, entertainment, e-commerce, and many others. The production process and business model behind these digital products doesn’t differ too much to actual products and services.
However, there’s one step in the process that is often underestimated by many tech companies—branding.
Entrepreneurs building tech ventures focus mostly on the actual product development. That’s mainly because they go after the tangible goal they seek to achieve—to build a digital product. Engineers, product managers, and digital product designers are generally the driving force here. But there is one problem: Often once the product is ready to enter the market, the realization dawns that something is missing. While focusing on production and planning, many are not foreseeing the overall strategy and how to engage with the potential buyers. How would the product connect? How should it be perceived? What is so unique about it? By the time the product is ready for release, it is often too late and costly to kick-start the branding process (but better late than never).
When the magic happens
The reason why branding is often not thought about right away is that it’s not a tangible product. The visual aspects of brand identity are what people usually think about when they think of branding. But there is much more to branding than that.
Brand strategy is the silent ambassador for any company and digital product. Like product strategy, brand strategy can provide clarity around the purpose for the product’s existence. Moreover, it usually sets a step-based framework to achieve business goals. It also provides clarity as to why people should consider buying the product or service.
When brand strategy and identity are set and working on all touchpoints as well as on the digital product, the targeted audience cares about what the brand does and produces. A really great example is Nike and its popular slogan “Just do it.” Nike uses end-to-end branding to spread their brand message, starting from their online shop and actual shops through to mobile applications, actual products, and customer support. The proof of how well their branding works is that even if the logo is not displayed, you will most likely be able to recognize when something comes from Nike. A vivid example for that is their slogan “Just do it.” People also connect with Nike’s purpose, therefore they want to support and buy from them.
Brand applies to digital product design, but not only brand. All decisions made on how the visual branding of an app are executed should be aligned with an overall vision. Consistency is key in building up trust and setting clear expectations in the audience. One company should have brand alignment between marketing, digital products, sales, customer support, and any other user touchpoints.
And for all those cases where there is no actual branding executed, the brand still speaks. Maybe in a distorted and inconsistent manner, but it’s there. Therefore, any decisions made on how the digital product uses branding do not remain in a vacuum. They will impact the overall business.
Start with branding
If you are considering building a digital product, or if you are building one already, consider branding in your process. You will be rewarded for your idea, vision, and goal, and you will see how these are turning into reality one step at a time.
Connect with your audience and make their life better.
Thank you for reading! 💜
We are GEOBO, a design studio specialising in branding for fashion and creative tech companies.