At once a misunderstood concept, an area many like to defer over to Marketing, but as much the responsibility of an Interaction Designer and Visual Designer as anyone else on the team. Even more so. If you are designing a product, you are a brand steward. If you are designing a product, you are creating the experience a person has with the brand. Their perception of the effectiveness, ease of use, delight and all those other things we look for in IXD, are perceptions of the overall brand and the company.

Here are the slides from my lecture on Brand. I started with the best story ever – given by Brian Collins back in the 1990’s at the Advance for Design, AIGA conference, about Brand and one of the best brand’s out there – that upholds it’s promise and expectations. The best brand at following through on the promise and behaviors both for the employees and the customers.

“Name some brands that resonate with you.
Target, Apple, Starbucks (all given to me by my students) – those are great brands.

But let’s go back, back, way back in time.
In 1744, there was an extraordinary brand. One of the strongest ever.
Imagine, if you will – Around the turn of the century, you’re in the thick of a magnificent sailing ship, a Spanish galleon. You’re going back to see your family. You see another ship coming closer and closer to yours. They raise a flag, and as you get closer you can see whose ship it is.

This is what you see.

A pirate flag is a brand promise. And it’s promise is that you’re f’d.

Now, what’s interesting and incredible is that between the early 1700’s and when steamships arrived, all a pirate had to do was raise that flag.
You’d drop your cargo and flee. Pirates had killed and stolen and sunk ships enough – creating a behavior associate with their image – so that the brand perception was strong enough that now they didn’t really need to do anything else but raise the flag. People knew what they were about. They new what to expect. They knew what kind of experience they were going to have.

Brands speak to two people, the consumer and the employees.

Sailors, it’s time to act like pirates. Brands remind people how to behave.”

I also spent time going over Hugh Dubberly’s concept model of the Brand Experience – also given at a conference I attended back a bunch of years ago. To me, it still stands the test of time and is a good way to explore what we mean by Brand especially in the context of an experience.