Why do experiences stir a positive or negative emotion? When do many ideas cohesively gel into a larger memory? How do our feelings mesh together into thoughts about our interactions and as customers or consumers, when do we personify a brand?
To comprehend the answers to these questions are not exact numbers is an interesting characteristic
about being human.
From Carl Jung’s shared archetypes to Sigmund Freud’s thoughts on the relationships we have with our parents, to the conditioned behavioral experiments of Pavlov’s salivating dogs, Psychologists through-out the ages have tried to address the human condition from different angles.
In mainstream culture it has become customary to use the word Psychology to symbolically represent the mental process for understanding something. To say “What is the Psychology of watching or reading the Chronicles of Narnia?” is an easy way of establishing the thought experiment for asking “What types of thoughts, behaviors, emotions and feelings will someone be processing when experiencing that book or movie”
The fact is that we’ve gone to the moon, we can quantum teleport entangled electrons, we’ve built super computers and have gone to some of the deepest parts of our oceans and yet if I asked you “why” or “how” the Lion or the Witch made you “feel” in the Chronicles of Narnia it would be like trying to capture smoke in a bottle.
Understanding that we share core human similarities is a powerful tool when creating experiences. Using accessibility standards for example, I can factually guarantee that my users have some level of sensory input in that they can hear, touch, taste, smell and see, and that some of these sensory inputs I have access too. How the experiences are interpreted, can be surveyed and captured, we can conduct face-to-face interviews, but in the end the data is just a collection of responses to support our claims for evidence.
Evidence would dictate information, information would dictate a quantity, a quantity would dictate being able to weigh something, being able to weigh something would dictate "logic".
Logic would dictate that if I try and sell you something, the consumer aspects of cost vs savings, or speed vs quality would allow for a reasonable choice to be considered and acted upon.
In previous blog posts we’ve talked about the brain and the building blocks of memories and how emotions are not logical aspects of human thought, and that feelings don’t easily pour into a beaker, and that dispite the our inability to quantify emotions, they are absolutely essential components of our positive or negative perceptions.
In this blog post we are going to explore Branding experiences (BX) and Customer experiences (CX) and how we go about fostering and engaging aspects of the human condition to pave the way towards great User Experiences (UX).
Sweet! So emotions are hard to quantify and get in the way of making logical decisions, but how does a Lion and a Witch or a Wardrobe fit into Branding, Customer or User Experiences?
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
In Seth Godin’s quote the idea of a consumer’s decision based on relationships and memories is an interesting concept, that isn’t easily created through logical choice.
Think of it like this, I could go out on a limb and assume that you and I have a similar psychology around the magic and wonder of Lions and that you’ve had the same childhood fascination with them as I do…
That’s a bold statement and would be hard to prove without research or validation because the focal point is too granular. So, by forming a Brand Experience around Lions I immediately exclude large populations of customers who may identify themselves with elephants or sheep. In this analogy you can compare the Lion to any number of variables indicative of being too specific: Technology, Speed, Performance, Power, Digital, Cost Savings, etc. etc.
In contrast now, let’s say that I go out on a limb and express that the Lion actually stands for you and that we all want to be treated with kindness and respect, or that we want more time with our families and friends. Or that we honor the old and cherish the new… By imbuing the Lion, in the Chronicles of Narnia with these characteristics C.S. Lewis makes Aslan into something greater than just a Lion.
The big idea here is that there are methods for arriving at a stable Brand and Customer Experience platform that while potentially being very wide in scope, have common human characteristics that foundationally build trust and loyalty. Trust and loyalty like other aspects of the human condition are fairly hard to quantify as they are relative constructs dealing in perception and the binding of positive and negative memories.
When we think of aligning technology outcomes in a climate where all products seemingly look and act the same to the community at large, the ability to connect on a human level is what causes a Brand to differentiate itself from the competition.
Interesting, so saying “We Sell Cloud Services”, isn’t really going to move the needle… But saying, “We’ll Sell You Less Stress Because Our Cloud Services Are That Good”…
Ok, I get it.
When we look at some of the greatest Brands in the world, we see similar characteristics in their Human Connected BX Platforms.
Let’s take a look at Lego and Adobe’s Branding Strategies. We don’t hear about the software or how it's digital experience far out weighs the competition, or we’ll save by installing the new and improved Adobe XD, Photoshop or Illustrator… What we do experience is that Lego and Adobe honor and cherish Creativity, Individuality, Invention and Respect.
Adobe Creative Class from Melcher Media on Vimeo.
While these videos are a little outdated, we get the full radiance and exceptionalism of Lego and Adobe’s Brand Platforms and messaging.
Ok, how does Lego or Adobe’s Brand Platform compliment or help drive great CX or Customer Experiences?
When we think of the Psychology of these videos it speaks volumes about how contained within Brand Experiences there is an inertia about focusing on what makes us human, that resonates into other areas of a business. If we feel connected on a deeper and emotional level, maybe we’ll wait a little longer on the phone for that Customer Services professional to answer, maybe we’ll accept a 404 error on a web site when a service is down or better yet maybe the UX of an application in which an obstructed button at the bottom of a really-really long scrolling form won’t matter as much.
The power of Brand Experiences cohesively binds visual language, thoughts and emotions into multiple channels of communication. The channels of communication of the Customer Experiences are building blocks of the universe that User Experiences reside in.
Got it... That's deep, so how do we start creating solid Brand Experiences or Platforms… And can we use emotionally charged Lions?
To pick up Seth Godin’s quote again the idea that a Brand Platform is a set of associations that customers make with a company or product, we can begin to collect and gather elements of how we want to sculpt the story and continuity of visual and emotional language.
Brand Platforms typically include:
- Your mission statement: What are you hoping to accomplish through the products or services you're offering?
- Your key values: What do you stand for as a company?
- Your brand’s tonality and voice: Do you use slang or NLP in your communications, or do you stick to industry jargon?
- Your brand’s personality guidelines: Are you a fun and friendly brand, or do you talk to your customers professionally?
- Your brand’s visual language: What elements like icons, logos, fonts and colors are used in marketing collateral or can be referenced in a Brand Guideline Document?
Alright, if we collect and create these Brand focused elements, we’ll be on our way to building Brand Platforms, how do we take these elements and build Customer Experience?
Remember that Customer Experiences are simply touch points of communication... Communication is dependant on our sensory input.
Whether it’s an email we receive or the NLP language of a chat bot or the way a customer service professional handles themselves over the phone the big idea here is that contained within the psychology of the Brand BX Customer Experiences are simply touch points.
Touch points with the ability to connect on a deeper level with a Brand that when done correctly transcends boundaries allowing for the space needed for a CX to take shape and grow into a relationship of trust.
The interactions of CX distilled into supporting User Experiences can be galvanized by producing documentation called a Design System.
A Design System is a systematic approach to product development. A Design System typically includes:
- Design Language: The overall visual design of a digital product. Defining characteristics such as typography, colors, icons, spacing and information architecture.
- Design Kit: A shared assets library of styles, symbols or components that can be used by product teams to design or prototype new experiences.
- Coded Component Library: A set of components that are version controlled and are used to build one or more products.
- Documentation: Guidelines on how to consume the Design System, detailed design and development considerations along with requirements that drove the decisions made.
- Governance Strategy: for how we can continue to evolve the Design System and how others can contribute to it.
At Concurrency Design Systems are woven into our UX Process so that in the case of a larger project that might have multiple facets of communications, functionality and sprints inside an application we can pull from the Design System to create larger and more dynamic interations smarter and faster.
Makes sense... Recap, so connecting with Consumers on a Human Level helps foster great Brand Experience which cohesively supports multiple facets of Communication that are simply touch points of the total Customer Experience... So, how do we use this understanding to create great User Experiences?
Remember that a User Experience carries the same fundemental ideas as a Customer Experience but focuses on aspects of the interactions on the User.
User Experience ( UX ) encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with a company’s services, and its products.
- Donald Norman and Jakob Nielsen
If you look at the core of what Donald Norman and Jakob Nielsen are saying, the same cognitive, emotional and visual ramifications are taking place on the building blocks of perception and our construction of positive memories. If building trust, and deeper relationships are important, the big idea here is that these concepts don't begin at the UI layer.
Knowing this and creating Customer and User Experiences with a solid Design System that pull aspects from a Brand Platform allows for both CX and UX to work harmoniously to collectively impact the entire experience.
In my next blog post we'll be talking about reporting and analytics and how simple surveys, can yield big CX and UX results.
If you read this blog post, and it sparked an idea, emotion or a feeling... Leave a comment, keep the conversation going.