While the practice of user experience speaks to familiarity and similarity, brand calls for distinctiveness. How do you balance the two and do you need to lock down your brand strategy before you start talking UX?

On face value, brand and User Experience (UX) are opposing forces. Traditionally, a major component of a brand strategy is differentiating your business; making it unique and having it stand apart from your competitors. The principles of UX, on the other hand, dictate a level of similarity. It’s all about creating experiences that rely on familiarity and patterns to create comfort and remove friction.

We often see examples where digital or UX teams have a remit to reduce friction – a perfectly reasonable goal – however, it can be to the detriment of brand.

But brand and UX can work together. There’s no reason why brands can’t offer best practice UX while also driving their point of difference.

Micro-interactions are a great place to start thinking about how brand can be infused into the experience. A micro-interaction could be the content in a welcome email or the error message on your website. There are so many moments along a digital journey that can be infused with your brand’s personality.

To allow the differentiation of your brand to shine through, start by building confidence in the functional elements. Work with UX to make the experience as seamless and functional as possible. Then add a layer of brand on top. The biggest opportunity to do this is often through content, with brand able to influence via tone of voice and the type of content being published.

While it pays to square away the UX elements before layering brand across them, you’ll need a solid brand strategy before embarking on any of this work. Brand strategy impacts on every touchpoint of your brand and so it needs to be prioritised.

However, you’ll want to maintain the mindset of change. Brand strategy needs to be robust enough to work across your entire organisation and its various departments. Yet it needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of technology.

The beauty of brand experience principles is that they can change and adapt. Today’s brands are ever-changing and fluid which is helpful for the rapid changes associated with technology.

Long gone are the days of brand and the associated experience being confined to a PDF style guide with a mindset of compliance. And this is also a godsend for when it comes to balancing brand and UX.