Nowadays brands are dealing with a huge competition on the market. It’s crucial to stand out from the crowd and be recognizable – it could be a solution to reach a wide customer base and succeed. Being recognizable is not only about unique design, but also about the strategy and the user experience.
What is brand recognition?
We are surrounded by digital products, which are an important part of our lives – even though we are sometimes unaware of that. We use them everyday, spending lots of our time in the digital world. The market for digital products such as websites or apps is enormous:
According to a new report from Sensor Tower, the iOS App Store and Google Play combined brought in $39.7 billion in worldwide app revenue in the first half of 2019 — that’s up 15.4% over the $34.4 billion seen during the first half of last year. (TechCrunch)
Consumers downloaded a record 204 billion apps in 2019, up 6% from 2018 and up 45% since 2016, and spent $120 billion on apps, subscriptions and other in-app spending in the past year. The average mobile user, meanwhile, is spending 3.7 hours per day using apps. (TechCrunch)
Each new brand wants to be recognizable and memorable to gain a wide customer base for their products and to increase revenue. Brand recognition is the way people can recognize a brand by its attributes. There is a long way for new companies to go to build brand awareness but also to be recognized by customers.
The important question which we can raise is: How can you make your digital product recognizable?
1. Create brand personality which fits the right consumers group
It’s important to know which group of customers you would like to acquire to set the right values for your brand. Creating a brand personality – that is the set of human characteristics related to a brand name – that customers can identify with can help you to build a loyal customer base.
People like to use products whose values and personality are similar to theirs. The right kind of user experience and strong branding key visuals can attract customers with a consistent set of traits. Things like the color palette, tone of voice, interactions, and visuals should reflect the brand personality. It's crucial to set it from the very beginning – regardless of whether your brand aims for sophistication, competence, ruggedness, sincerity, or excitement. The brand personality should be one of your guidelines, which will lead your brand building efforts.
A cohesive message which you need to create will stay with your brand for several years or even more. The brand’s story should be significant and make the brand immediately noticeable and recognizable – this will help you create emotional bonds with your audience. Customers will buy or use your product because it will fit their lifestyle and character, which will be reflected by the tone of voice and visuals.
2. Make it simple, but also memorable
If you are creating a new digital brand from scratch, it might be tempting to make it minimalistic, simple and clean, but bear in mind it's a double-edged sword. On the market, we could observe a trend that some brands actually have no branding at all. It applies not only to real products with touch points such as packaging or commercials but also applications and web products.
Minimalistic branding could be really appealing, but for startups and new companies on the market, creating a strong visual style could help to differentiate one product from another and stand out from the crowd. It’s really hard to implement branding elements into app design in the form as it was designed and used in advertisements or other marketing materials.
Brands are filtering and reducing the amount of visual components in their digital products to focus on user experience and to avoid overwhelming user experience by branding, but they do it only after gaining a huge market share. Companies like Uber, or Spotify can do it, because millions of people already use these products. This kind of strategy could make distinguishing between one product and another prohibitively difficult if we do not have an eye for detail and cannot focus on subtle differences.
Could you name those two applications at once or will you need more time to focus on details to know the brand name?
If you had trouble differentiating between the examples above: Spotify vs. Tidal and Uber vs. Bolt, you are not alone. The layouts and components used by them are almost the same – we can see only small differences, which might not be noticeable to regular users. We should ask ourselves whether we would like to be the same as our competitors or stand out and find another way of making our brand easier to distinguish.
3. Find a right balance of functionality over uniqueness
In digital products, we filter all branding elements and use only those that are crucial to recognizing a brand, such as:
- Illustrations/icons (if included).
Dropbox branding is used across advertisements and websites:
The core of the product is usually its functionality, not only nicely looking key visuals. You should find the right proportions and remember that “form follows function”, and even the prettiest interfaces with bad user experience are useless because people won't want to use them. There's nothing worse than a beautiful app with a really bad user experience.
Don’t make this mistake!
The apps or websites that are your digital product should allow the user to perform a particular task or solve a problem. The brand should draw attention to show the benefits of using it. If you fulfil these two core elements, you can think about adding and creating a special interactive experience, which could create a personal bond with the user by emotionazing.
It’s crucial to be cohesive when building a user experience because it could help you gain loyal customers. Providing right user experience review could be a part of your brand, maybe even one of the most important ones. If you find a niche and solve a problem with your product it’s more likely that people will be using your product because it is unique.
Again, Dropbox branding is used across advertisements and websites:
Interface of digital product:
4. Think about brand touch points and use them wisely
If we compare brand touch points of a digital product vs those of a physical product, we can see that digital products may lack of these components:
- Splash screen
- Animations/motion design
- Tone of voice
- also microcopy & UX copy, which are slightly different things but nevertheless connected.
For physical products you can have a variety of brand touch points:
- Tone of voice
- Outdoor advertisements
- Flyers and promotional materials
- Banners and rollups
- Marketing campaigns
- Printed materials
- Adwords, etc.
Digital products have the opportunity to be found by people from all over the world, but actually it could be really hard to reach them. We are surrounded by products that solve the same problem, offer the same functionality, or are really hard to use because of a bad UX.
Setting the right marketing strategy is crucial – it will allow you to stand out and be noticed by users. When building brand guidelines, you can pick what is the most important in your branding elements. It could be a unique font, an outstanding color palette, or creative key visuals.
The more cohesive and consistent your digital brand will be, the more brand awareness and brand recognition you can build. It is really important how you communicate with your audience and how you gain your customers. The Internet is a vast ocean of information that nowadays can help you to sell and promote almost everything.
5. Find a unique brand value for your business in experience strategy
When creating your business strategy you should think how you can stand out from your competitors with an entirely different approach. It could be expressed through the tone of voice, outstanding branding materials, unique user experience, or launching an innovative product.
Nowadays, we are surrounded by many beautifully designed products. A good way of being unique is to think about an experience which you want to create for your customers. Building recognition by offering products based on human behaviours, which are not just “saying” something, but also helping to solve people’s problems could be the best approach. A leading example could be Uber – a digital product that completely altered the offline world, changing the way people order taxis all over the planet. Think outside the box about how you can solve problems for your customers. User experience can be a significant element of your brand.
If your products don’t meet expectations or don’t help people to achieve or solve something, there is a chance that there is no need for them on the market at all. Even the best branding cannot help you if your strategy and idea for a product are not well thought through.
6. The logo doesn’t need to be static anymore
There is no longer any need to keep the logo static and unchanging. The places where you can use logos have changed, because of digitalization in all aspects of our lives. Brands are using active media today, which allows them to incorporate animations and interactions into logo design. You should also keep in mind that even though digital media offer a lot of possibilities they also have some restrictions such as sizing, resolutions, or colors.
The unique brand feeling can be strengthened by adding a sound when the logo is launched. Great examples of building awareness and recognition by logo combined with sound are Netflix and Xbox. Now we don't even need to see the logo. The sound is so recognizable that we already know what brand we are dealing with.
Not only intro but also sounds in your app can be part of a special and unique brand feeling. A confirmation of accomplishing a task positively or indication that someone writes us a message can make us get used to it and associate it with a particular brand. We are also starting to relate those sounds positively, which could increase our positive association with the brand.
7. Custom illustrations could be your way to stand out
If your brand is already well thought through, you have excellent user experience in your digital product and your logo is on point, you can think about adding extra touches. Custom illustrations can help bring your key visual to the next level. The cohesive and unique look and feel could give you a great advantage in building a brand recognition not only on logo but also on illustrations, which should be closely related to the brand. You should think about your target group and see if your illustration won't overwhelm your digital product.
So how to make your digital product recognizable?
The user is king not only for building an awesome user experience but also when you are dealing with creating a new brand from scratch. You should always think about the values that are important to your customers, about their lifestyle, and how they can reach your product.
It’s the key to success, which will help you to set a proper direction reflected in your brand materials. The colors, typography, icons, illustrations are a result of market research, brand aspects, and values and strategy. If you set them right, it’s more likely that you succeed.