How to build a Minimum Viable Brand Experience for your startup

Branding-Startups

If you’re working for a startup or are a startup founder, the term minimum viable product (MVP) is probably very familiar to you. And I am sure many sleepless nights were spent thinking about it. But what about your brand and the experience your customers have with your product, how many hours or team brainstorms have you spent on those topics?! If the answer is not that many, this article is for you.

Before talking about a minimum viable brand experience coined as you’ve guessed after the MVP, let’s spend some time on user experience, brand experience and minimal viable brand. It’s important to understand what they mean and how they should be used.

As startups have limited funds, it’s understandable most don’t put their brand in their top priorities. Or that there is a confusion between user and brand experience or between branding and minimum viable brand or minimum viable brand experience. Even those of us who have spent many years in advertising and marketing are sometimes using these terms interchangeably.

Learning and understanding the difference

The term user experience (UX) was coined by Don Norman in 1993 while he was at Apple. Nowadays, Norman is the director of The Design Lab at University of California, San Diego. He is also known for his books on design, such as “The Design of Everyday Things”. Don Norman defines UX as “everything that touches upon your experience with a product.” In other words, user experience is the journey a user goes through in order to reach their goals with your product. It’s a system, like “the way you experience the world.”

In comparison with user experience, brand experience is focused on the user even before they become a customer. Brand experiences rely on design and advertising to communicate tailored messages and make customers feel a certain way about a brand. It’s about the sensations, feelings, and behavioral responses customers experience when exposed to brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments.

Minimum viable brand (MVB) is a term which is more and more used by startups and VCs. MVB is not just branding as some might argue. MVB refers to your mission, understanding your users (e.g personas, use cases, customers journeys), your product (e.g onboarding, user flows) and your brand personality (e.g tone of voice, messaging, style, brand name).

What is a Minimum Viable Brand Experience

Minimum viable brand experience on the other hand focuses entirely on your customers. In order “to shift their behaviour from consideration to purchase, as a brand, you need to ensure you’ve created a minimum brand experience for your category”, Bogdana Butnar – Senior Manager / Experience Strategy, Accenture Interactive and digital strategist argues. To put it simply, your minimum viable brand experience should consist of “the themes/topics your brand needs to actively engage with to drive purchase and a correlated set of touchpoints where your brand actively communicates”.

How does it work in a real world scenario

Step 1: If your customers are interested in, for example, safe travelling or sustainability, “you should have that ticked in as many places as possible” such as your website, app or on your product packaging. These are the topics your brand needs to actively engage with. So if you don’t know your customers interests, reagange with them, make those user interviews or use the analytics tools at your disposal to find out.

Step 2: Moreover, for a customer to make a decision, “a certain set of touchpoints need to be active at the same time to provide enough certainty”. These are your set of touchpoints where your brand actively communicates. For example when buying a pair of shoes, one will check the brand website, the Facebook or Instagram page and perhaps look at some consumer reviews. What about buying a car or a bike, are the touch points the same?! What are the touchpoints for your product or service?

In a nutshell, focus on the themes/topics and touchpoints necessary to create a minimum viable brand experience for your brand. It’s the best use of your time and  budget. This is valid for B2C and B2B models. Once you’ve created it, do test it out and adjust it if necessary. If you take the time and invest in the resources necessary, you might be one of those startups who will pass the test of time and about whom we’ll be writing in the years to come.

For those of you who want to dive deeper into the user experience, brand experience, minimal viable brand and minimum viable brand experience concepts, here are some videos, books or articles which can help:

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