Bridging the Gap Between Branding and User Experience

Jun, 2024 Author: Selma Digital

Founder of Selma Digital, Selma-Rachel Swire, is featured on International Business Times. As a specialist in User Experience design and Branding, she speaks about bridging the gap between branding and UX. See the article in it’s original source on International Business Times.

In today’s digital-first world, the user experience (UX) is an incredibly important aspect of a business’ identity, encompassing its website, mobile app, and other products and services. UX governs how the product looks, how users interact with its elements, and how it makes them feel. On the other hand, branding is the process of creating and cultivating a business’ distinct identity in consumers’ minds. It includes communicating the business’ values, personality, and unique selling proposition through visual and verbal means.

While it’s easy to see that branding and UX have significant overlap and should work together, many businesses have these two aspects disconnected from each other. This can result in a fractured brand experience that causes inconsistency in customers’ perception of the business.

Selma-Rachel Swire, founder of Selma Digital (formerly Cue Studio), aims to bridge the gap between branding and UX by taking a holistic view of the business, creating a more unified identity without sacrificing a product’s ease of use. An independent design, strategy, and creative studio, Selma Digital creates powerful digital brands by synthesizing branding, product, and marketing using its expert multi-disciplinary design team. It works with clients of various sizes, including pre-seed startups and Fortune 500 companies.

Swire, who founded the company in 2017, is a classically trained graphic designer, working with traditional mediums. However, when she entered the industry, she found herself working in digital design, some of which were in-house teams of global conglomerates. Later on, she joined an international advertising agency, but she realized that she enjoyed working on digital UX projects, especially in the early 2010s, when most businesses were beginning to build their own apps.

Throughout her career, Swire observed that in larger organizations, there’s a tendency for teams to fall into silos that are closed off to other teams, resulting in a very low amount of cross-team collaboration, inefficient communication, delays, and wasted resources. According to Swire, the disconnect between the branding and UX teams seems to stem from their disparate origins. UX as a discipline only came to the forefront in Silicon Valley in the 1990s, while the advertising industry has been around for much longer.

Selma Digital
Selma Digital IBTIMES US

“At Selma Digital, we believe that branding and UX should not be treated as separate things. We tell clients that their brand and their digital product are one and the same. This creates a string of continuity going through every touch point their customers interface with them. On the contrary, when two creative teams are each speaking their own language, this creates a disconnect that is apparent to customers.”

Another major observation Swire has made is the phenomenon of “blanding,” where different companies’ websites, apps, and other digital products begin looking the same, with almost identical buttons and styles, because they’re all using the same component libraries. As specialists in B2B enterprise software and digital product design, Selma Digital avoids this by creating its own elements, resulting in a unique look that reflects the client’s brand and enhances the user experience.

Selma Digital uses a three-pronged approach in its process – strategy, research, and creative – to craft experiences based on clients’ specific business goals. Swire and her team trace each client’s customer journey, designing digital experiences that engage the client’s audience and reinforce their brand – all validated through methodical and data-driven research. Because Selma Digital understands how different teams such as marketing, design, and UX use information, it makes sure to gather data that is useful for all

By speaking the languages of technology, business, and creative, Selma Digital is able to
translate ideas into experiences that work flawlessly for their clients’ end-users.

According to Swire, the intricacies of branding and UX create a situation that small businesses may find hard to solve through hiring a single in-house generalist.

“Business owners need to ask whether the person they’re hiring has all the skills needed to do everything that needs to be done,” Swire says. “That’s a really hard hire to make if you’re a small company in growth mode. I can honestly say, in every project where I was the sole practitioner first and later brought in a team to support my work, the final product was always better when I worked with a team than when I was working as an independent designer. More design minds collaborating make design work stronger. Going with an agency like Selma Digital de-risks those dollars spent, because clients are paying for quality and experience.”

In the face of changing trends in the industry, Selma Digital keeps itself abreast of the latest developments in digital technology and creative. It is studying different types of AI models, and how to realistically incorporate these new technologies into clients’ digital experiences.

“We have a user-first mentality, and we will be advocates of which technologies to use, at the right time. With AI becoming a buzzword in the industry, there’s a risk of it being incorrectly or haphazardly implemented, which can worsen the user experience and devalue the brand,” Swire says.