To investigate brand identity development and systems thinking in conjunction with user interface design
through logo design, the formation of a social media strategy, and website re-design
exploring the use of visual representation and perceived emotional corporate image to contribute towards an overall brand identity, and exploring the use of grid structures as a way to create a clear visual hierarchy to achieve a clear system of information which allows for easy navigation.
The primary focus of this project is to shape a brand identity for cricket website Mind The Windows (MTW). That is to say, I am seeking to ideate a perceived emotional image based on core values of MTW, while also creating a visual reference to identify the organisation, thus creating a corporate image for the organisation (Cass 2010). This in essence results in a visual voice as well as a social voice for the brand which co-exist together as an identifier for the company. “A brand is actually a living, changing thing, [and] is based on the dialogue you have with your customers and prospects – the stronger the dialogue, the stronger the brand” (Wales, in Weber 2009).
Through the exploration of a range of information, it has become clear that the easiest way for a brand to impact an audience is to create something which the audience can connect to. Social media is a useful tool to enable connection, as it is a platform set up to allow users to connect to one another. As an online medium, it also allows for a large audience to be reached, with minimal amounts of funds being used.
In this day and age, customers are seeking to engage with brands at every step. They no longer want to sit idly by while a monologue of information is delivered to them, but they want to seek information before purchase, ask questions about the product, or share the happy moment when the product is finally purchased. Engaging with the audience is no longer just to reach the end goal of a sale, but rather to foster relationships with the consumers generating brand loyalty in the long term. “The end goal might be a sale or something similar, but in reality it’s community and engagement that get people interested” (Wales, in Weber 2009)
“Social media is not something to bold onto a web site; it should be an integral part of a company’s overall online experience.” (Weber 2009, p.31), and if executed well, it can improve the experience of the audience in relation to your brand. If you attempt to promote your brand without advertising at all though, it will not go anywhere. Social media has become such an integral part of the marketing experience, a gateway for users to discover new products in a way which they are happy with. The audience can choose whether or not to engage with your brand, and as such, they have become a part of the brand themselves (Weber 2009). As such, a designer can form the foundations of the brand by outlining the personality and crafting the visual identity, but the audience are the ones who accept the brand and help it evolve (Cass 2010), which is why social media is the perfect platform to “get the audience talking, so they’ll come to your community and get involved” (Weber 2009, p.127), allowing them to discover the content available and make a decision of whether or not to support it. Customers make these decisions based on how well the services meet their needs, expectations and requirements. As such, in order to meet these needs, one must observe the community, recruit interested parties to help begin generating buzz, evaluate how to best reach user who will be interested in the content you are providing, engage with the audience, measure what is working and what is not in order to improve your content, while also promoting what is already there (Weber 2009, pp.66-67).
Although visual branding deals with the aesthetics of the brand, it still needs to reflect the values of the company, as it is the primary visual identifier for the organisation. The social voice of the brand needs to be heard when the visual voice of the brand is seen, uniting the company together, creating a cohesive identity for the audience to interact with. “A logo without “heart” is like a person without “heart”: cold, uninteresting, a robot” (Gobe 2013, p.126). As such, emotional branding is key within todays society, as it allows the audience to begin a connection with the brand, which can be fostered into brand loyalty in the future.
Like branding, good interface design begins by understanding users and what they want. If your content does not meet their needs, expectations or requirements, then chances are, your audience will look for something else, which is why it’s so important to correctly identify what the audience needs are in order to create a system which meets them. According to Tidwell, everyone who interacts with a tool – whether it be a website, a piece of software, or otherwise -is using it as a means to an end. They are looking for something very specific within the medium in order to solve their issue. It could be to learn information, perform a transaction, control or monitor something, or be entertained. As such, we need to identify what it is users are trying to accomplish within the site in order to best cater for those needs. Interaction with the target audience can be the difference between a successful interface design and an unsuccessful one (Tidwell 2010).
The final product will include brand identity collateral, such as the visual identity or logo, a social media branding strategy, and supporting files for these contexts, as well as a website re-desigin, aiming to align with the developed brand identity and improve upon the existing website to be more functional for users, helping them to easily access specific content across the website.