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Five steps to delivering effective digital brand experiences

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When the headwinds of the economy challenge business growth, it’s prudent to focus efforts on customer retention. Keeping loyal customers engaged requires intelligence and understanding. Like any good relationship, maintaining a consistent and relevant connection over time is essential, and as important as the first moments that brought you together.
Growing and maintaining a good level of brand consistency is something that many organisations are failing to achieve, especially through the delivery of their digital services, products and experiences. When speed to market is a priority, brand experience is too often overlooked and can become an expensive after-thought when its absence is really felt.
When it comes to modern digital experiences, your brand can and should be your strongest point of difference. The technology landscape has arguably become table stakes - and it’s your brand personality, values and behaviours that really set you apart. So connecting your campaign and channel activity authentically and seamlessly with your digital products and platforms is more important than ever. Fail to communicate your brand consistently through your digital ecosystem and risk wasting your investment, or worse damaging your reputation.
Here are our five steps to delivering a standout digital brand experience:


1. Know yourself. Know your customer 

It sounds obvious, but many organisations don’t have an up-to-date view of their market positioning. They might not know what their unique proposition is; or understand their values. And chances are they struggle to communicate their personality and link this to the way they behave, physically or digitally. This is especially true with bricks and mortar retailers and traditional CPGs.  

If all of this is defined, then great. Here stand the pillars of a strong, well defined brand strategy. 
But are these brand pillars connected to the needs of the customer? Is there a clear view of who their customers are and their emotional triggers? And what does a successful digital experience look like through their eyes? 
Only when you draw direct correlation between the pillars of your brand and the needs of the customers, can you begin to plot out the fundamentals of a successful brand experience.  

2. Ensure digital behaviours are core to your strategy  

For many organisations, the translation of their brand into the digital experience still only stretches as far as aligning their fonts, colours and logos. Of course, these are foundational aspects, but they barely scratch the surface when creating a standout, modern experience with ever increasing expectations of what a “good” consumer experience is.  
There must be consideration for how a brand strategy can inform and define more emotive and behavioural aspects of the digital experience. How you interact as a brand can play out in a multitude of ways. 

From our long standing partnerships with brands such as Lexus, we have seen that focusing on defining these expressive aspects of the experience can reap rewards. From the pacing and feedback of motion graphics and micro interactions; or the tonality of copy and storytelling, art direction or personalisation can make the difference needed to set experiences apart and make them feel authentic. All aspects require definition to trigger the emotions that drive long term loyalty. And then with the overlay of real, social proof e.g. customer reviews where suitable, to reinforce trust and transparency.

Failing to consider the emotive and behavioural aspects of a brand’s personality upfront can leave an experience, service or product feeling flat, uninspiring and lacking in human connection. 

Lexus motion principles
Lexus motion principles

3. Define your vision and agree principles 

Very few organisations can afford to tear up their digital ecosystem and start from scratch. This makes a clear vision for the digital experience even more essential. While an iterative process of experimentation and insight-driven improvements can be the best way to make the marginal gains; having a vision that creatively guides and inspires internal and external stakeholders is key to ensuring your goals are met. 
Validating a team’s decisions as part of this evolution can be made more effective with the adoption of ‘Experience Principles.’ Acting as a common language for the creation of new design features, this set of principles (linked to your brand pillars) acts as a robust governance framework. Aligning all stakeholders to ensure consistent design delivery and ruling out the creation of wasteful, off-strategy efforts. 

Kin + Carta have worked collaboratively with the brand team at Farrow & Ball to implement just this. In doing so, we created a set of Experience Principles that now guide every design and user experience decision the business makes. This ensures the heritage and values that customers hold so dear, are felt throughout the inspiration-filled ecommerce experience.
Person presenting an idea in a meeting room

4. Work lean and secure the foundations 

Design systems play an important role in the delivery of modern digital products and experiences. They provide a robust centralised foundation on which you can develop a sustainable, consistent and cost-efficient tech ecosystem.

Taking a lean approach to the creation of your design system will allow you to develop products and platforms more quickly. But ensuring the initial setup of these building blocks is important; where quality and attention to detail are paramount. Failure to ensure your system has the flexibility to evolve and cater to your changing business and customer needs can lead to an accumulation of technical and design debt.

Creating a design system that is guided by your Design Principles will allow you to embed best practice and standards by default. Providing you outline your intentions upfront. For example, creating a benchmark for accessibility across your ecosystem should deliver the fundamental stepping stones towards creating products and experiences which act responsibly, and cater to the growing needs of a modern and expectant digital customer. 

Applying this approach in collaboration with our client NFU Mutual, has allowed them to create a best in class customer platform and design system. This is now underpinning the future direction of all digital products and services within the organisation; resulting in a robust, sustainable and consistent delivery of their brand experience.

Person presenting an idea in a meeting room

5. Operationalise

Delivery of your brand experience shouldn’t sit in a silo. Every area of a business should play a role in delivering a great experience to your customers. Identifying the unique role each stakeholder group plays is also key to delivering authentically. 

This becomes increasingly important when dealing with both regional and central teams. In many organisations, we’ve witnessed internal teams falling foul to repetition and waste, through the creation of mis-aligned and duplicated digital assets (content, emails, social ads, interface components). 

If a regional team finds success then you should encourage teams to share and socialise across markets. It will bring speed, agility and efficiency. One of our clients reduced global email costs by over 40% by taking this ‘reuse and recycle’  approach. They reinvested this budget into high value activity to help make further step changes in the experience and accelerated their pace of change.  

Socialising your strategy, vision and guiding principles internally should be seen as a defining moment. Empowering your internal teams to contribute to the creation and ongoing governance of a design system will also help create brand consistency and reduce the duplication of efforts around the business.

Adopting centrally governed, cloud-based systems such as design systems or asset management tools can eliminate regional consistency issues and duplication of effort. It allows greater control and a centralised view of what’s working well, or perhaps not. Ultimately it will underpin the foundations of delivering an effective digital brand experience, which will show your customers you really do care.


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