We interview UX and digital transformation expert Paul Boag on how technology has changed branding (or not).

How have you seen brand building evolve with the rise of digital technologies?

In a world where every consumer can see what any other consumer is saying about a company, a brand is no longer what it says about itself, but rather what customers say about it.

Concurrently, what are some branding fundamentals that haven’t changed?

A brand is still the personality and character of a company. That will never change. It is merely that this personality is reflected through the eyes of the consumer, not how the company would choose to interpret it.

In what ways are some of these branding fundamentals similar to user-centred design principles?

When the customer defines a brand, it is essential that the user’s experience is as good as it can be. That means that just like user-centric design, those who wish to shape a brand need to listen intently to the customer and what they want.

In an increasingly crowded borderless, global marketplace, how might SME’s build brand loyalty when it’s so easy for customers to shop online for the cheapest price?

People rarely buy on price alone. People are often willing to pay a premium for a superior experience or ease of use. If companies want to build brand loyalty, they need to make their interactions with customers feel effortless and pleasant.

How can brands differentiate themselves through digital interactions? What are your favourite examples of brands doing this well?

The most successful brands are those that take the pain away from an existing interaction. Whether that is Uber making catching a taxi easy or Netflix ending the need to return disks, the result is the same. People are attracted to brands that empower them and make life simpler.

What are some quick and easy digital tools SME’s can use to track their brand health?

You don’t need any fancy tools. You need to talk to your customers and listen to what they have to say. Tools are often just a barrier that provides an excuse to avoid the hard work of sitting down and talking to people.

What might ‘user-centred branding’ look like in the near future?

It will be brands that are more focused on their customers than they are on their own image. It will be brands that are championing their user’s needs, not their own.

About Paul Boag

Paul Boag is a user experience consultantauthor and speaker. He helps not-for-profits such as the European Commission, UCAS and Doctors Without Borders adapt to the digital world. He also works with many sizeable commercial clients. He refocuses them on user experience and engaging with a new digitally savvy audience. All the while pursuing his not-so-hidden agenda.


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