In the business world, we like to think of things in terms of different steps or departments. Each project has a sequential step to completion. Every company has various departments that tackle separate objectives. Compartmentalizing large tasks and organizations is necessary to get them to completion, but it can be dangerous when those separations become internalized by the people doing the work.
So when most companies are bringing a product to market, they think of product development and marketing as sequential steps carried out by different departments. That might be how the work is divided, but thinking of those areas as entirely isolated means they aren’t thinking about the user.
To a user, the brand and the product are not separate things
Google became the top search engine because it supposedly worked the best. But let’s not forget about how they compared branding-wise to the competition. Their name made it sound more advanced than “Dogpile” or “Alta Vista” or the venerable “Jeeves.” Google sounded mathematical and smart. The others didn’t have any similar implications. I’d love to be a fly on the wall of the brand consulting company (likely highly paid) that decided to name a search engine Dogpile. It sounds like literal shit.
At our brand strategy firm, we make the case that a brand is an integral part of a product’s function––as important as its core features. Software companies and service providers work hard to outdo their competition and produce a better end product. Without the right branding, the purchaser might not be able to see that differential. The people working on functionality might not care about marketing when they’re deep in the weeds. But they need branding experts like us to make the buyer care about the product in the way its designers do.
Branding is not considered a user experience feature, yet it is integral to how a user perceives a product and therefore how they will use it.
It is certainly critical to marketing and sales, but it also influences how they interact with the product once purchased. A brand needs to set the right expectations for how the app, product, or service functions. This is why a good brand strategy agency will consider the entire relationship between user and product when determining the branding.
All this is to say that a brand goes deeper than a logo and a tagline. It needs to speak to the desires and aspirations of the target audience while remaining true to the purpose of the product. It should be considered as integral to the product as anything else that makes the product work. You can build the greatest product in the world, but if you don’t brand it right, it’ll end up in the dogpile of history.