September 18, 2019

Brand Identity Experience

Today, brand identity isn't something that merely gets branded onto a business. Today, brand identity is implicit. Today, any on-going venture – no matter the type – cannot not be a brand and cannot not have a brand identity. Branding is tricky at the best of times so bear with the double negatives, they serve a purpose

Regardless of whether a brand has all the usual brand identity accoutrements, and regardless of whether those accoutrements are fit-for-purpose, any discrete venture cannot not be a brand; regardless of sector or brand type. For commercial brands, the burning question is whether a business operates as a 'brand of business' or whether a business is brand-led

If, like Google, the digital product is category-defining and unrivalled in performance then the default 'brand of business' approach may be enough. This was the case for Google until its recent Alphabet-backed brand identity overhaul. Were it not for the distinctive name and ever-changing search bar doodle, Google didn't have much of a brand identity. It didn't have a cohesive identity that meets the expectations of brand-literate users. Google is now quite clearly a brand-led business and looks the part

Much like today's brand-led version of Google, the most effective brands are those that have a user-interface (UI) that's implicit to the user-experience (UX), a user-experience that's implicit to the customer experience (CX) and – in line with the main thrust of this article – a customer experience that's implicit to the brand experience (BX). For most markets this logic is easy enough to follow, the distinctions sufficient and usually more than enough brand theory than most brand-literate people care to engage. For those with an appetite for yet greater accuracy and distinction there's the next level to consider, Brand Identity Experience (BIX)

But, you ask... "surely brand experience communicates enough about the brand identity of a business?". Yes, if you sit back and accept that an identity is branded onto a business and not implicitly connected to the reason the business exists. No, if you recognise that you cannot not be a brand. No, also because it's not an option not to be a brand, regardless of sector or brand type. And, yes – I hate to say it – this includes personal brands. I'm a case in point

BIX isn't catchy but it is accurate and a necessary distinction for those who appreciate that brand and business are inseparable. BIX makes more sense than you might think, particularly in a discussion involving UI, UX, CX and BX – which accounts for all future-facing brands. For those who appreciate that the experience of a signifier is distinct from an experience of the signified. Implicitly connected yet distinct. And, for those who appreciate that you can have a brand identity experience without necessarily having a brand experience. A BX requires that a customer has a direct experience of a product or service. A BIX does not. Knowing everything there is to know about apples is not the same as the experience of also having eaten an apple

The branding industry is rife with mis-used terms that are constantly vying to capture the slippery nature of branding and its practice. These include but aren't limited to Branding Designer and Branding Agency, Brand Designer and Brand Agency. Does a Branding Designer or Branding Agency merely apply a brand onto a business? Do they also originate brand assets or add value to the brand outside of its application? Does a Brand Designer or Brand Agency also determine the products and services of a business? Some might, most most obviously do not

More accurately, these agencies are Brand Identity Agencies that develop brand identity experiences. They cannot claim to have created the brand because, according to this evolved definition of brand, brand now also includes the business. This is one of the reasons I invented the role description Brand Identity Designer near the turn of the millennium. You might have noticed its uptake in the industry but not given its origin a second thought