Some companies think of their design experience as the basic outline for user interaction, branded events, or customer service. This isn’t wrong–it just doesn’t encompass everything involved in designing a brand experience that begins with customer awareness and goes well past the point of purchase.
In a customer-centric business, designing a brand experience should be implemented on as many levels as possible throughout your organisation and throughout the lifecycle of your products or services. Naturally, from output to process, different organisations find themselves at varying stages in the evolution of their design mindset. According to the Danish Design Centre’s Extended Danish Design Ladder – a tool to measure the level of design activity in a business – an organisation moves through five steps in its understanding of design thinking:
1. Non-design: An organisation that does not use design systematically.
2. Design as styling: Design is used purely for styling and finishing company products. This is where many brands currently find themselves.
3. Design as an innovation process: Design is an integral part of the company’s innovation process.
4. Design as a business strategy: Design is an key part of the company’s business strategy.
5. Design as community and organisational transformation: Design plays a part in both the organisational structure and business model. The brand experience that makes an impact on customers is merely the surface and the texture of the brand experience design.
From Inception To Reality
To successfully integrate design thinking, it’s important to acknowledge that different departments and individuals in your organisation will occupy varying rungs on the design ladder. Remember: Do not try to fit everyone into a one-size-fits-all way of applying design. Rather, recognise and utilise the diversity of perspectives and disciplines those people offer.
Let’s take a look at some of the building blocks involved in creating a great brand experience:
• Customer journey touch points: Creating a customer journey map and defining touch points has become one of the most popular ways of setting and visualising what you need to do at certain points of engagement with your customers. To create a journey map rich with depth and insight, bring together people who are at the front positions at different stations of the journey.
• New product or service strategy: New product or service strategy should be included from the very beginning as a balancing act between business and customer needs. Applying design methods will help you define what well-defined customer personas may not know they need in certain contexts, and will help you innovate beyond the point of taking direction from traditional marketing research.
• New product or service experience: Unboxing a product or opening the door to a hotel room are key customer experiences that can be designed to create a memorable moment–a moment that could turn satisifed customers into brand advocates.
• Go forth and design: Design as a way of thinking will help your organisation move closer to creating a deep-rooted brand experience.
Your first step? Create a design framework that empowers different levels of design throughout your organisation, paving the way to integrate design principles as a mindset, customised to your brand and your needs.