Turning brand concepts into brand experiences

By offering experiences many businesses and cultural organisations are transforming passive consumers into engaged participants. From the increasing popularity of festivals [Wall Street Journal, 2011] to the pulling power of retail stores that deliver a complete brand experience [The Verde Group & Wharton University, 2009], we can see people are enjoying total immersion in brand experiences.

Mark Rothko famously said that "a painting is not about an experience. It is an experience" [LIFE Magazine, 1959]. Where Rothko's canvases are a visual expression of human emotions that move the onlooker to feel, a website and a brand experience can draw on this approach too, re-enforcing feelings and emotions that should be associated with the brand.

A brand experience involves attention to detail – focusing not just on what you say and how you look - but what you do and what people can do to engage with what you stand for.

The V&A museum for example stands for inspiring creativity, therefore they can check their day-to-day decisions by asking "what is V&A about this?" and "is it aligned with the V&A's brand? According to Damien Whitmore speaking in the 'Branding The Museum' V&A podcast, that is how a brand is applied on a day to day basis.

In the case of the brand experiences on the internet, UX design or 'User Experience Design' is one of the many terms used by website designers and developers to describe human-centred design. It concentrates on the way that the user experiences a website or web application.

In UX design a lot of emphasis is put on usability and functionality - the complex and the often overlooked bare essentials of good web design.

But building a useable website is like cooking an edible meal. Shouldn't designers be aspiring to something greater?

"What if your website is someone's first encounter with your work? Isn't it important to create an online experience that reflects who you are?"

"The question is... how do you create an encounter? How can you provoke an emotional connection and a meaningful experience through a digital medium?"

Whatever your craft, PixInk believe that when you think of your work as art, there is an automatic shift toward using the mind and heart to create a deeper connection and creation of meaning.

How 'Art Thinking' offers something different

Many businesses don't have a clear vision for how they will develop a brand experience, partly because they think about experience from an Outside>In point of view, attempting to understand the customer’s product perception first.

The reverse; Inside>Out thinking can be used to give insight into ‘being’ an organisation.

The way that artists think is precisely like this, beginning with an exploration of meaning before experimenting with how best to convey it.

For example, artist Carlos Cruz-Diez is interested in colour as a material; as a physical entity.

Chromosaturation by Carlos Cruz-Diez, The Hayward Gallery

To share his idea with the viewer Carlos Cruz-diez developed the artwork Chromosaturation – an artificial environment composed of three fluorescent colour chambers. This monochromatic experience disturbs the retina (accustomed to receiving a wide range of colours simultaneously) and triggers the viewer to re-evaluate their understanding of what colour is.

In the artist’s words, the installation Chromosaturation ‘acts with all its force on the spectator’s skin,’ inducing a new experience of colour as a tangible object [Hayward Gallery, The Light Show, 2013].

The artist has taken the practice 'show don't tell' to a new level. Carlos Cruz-diez has made his idea a tangible reality, and the public was invited to come experience it for themselves.

Encountering ideas and concepts through experiential art and design

The process of exploring Chromosaturation feels close to a real-life walk through of a dream: the sensation of being able to touch what isn't physically there. Cruz-Diez succeeded in communicating his idea by giving his audience the experience of colour as a physical material.

PixInk claim that with artist-led design your ideas and your brand can also become a tangible experience. This approach sees websites not as billboards for an advertisement, but portals to invite, present and breed ideas. Websites are not postmen, but the homes in which letters are deposited, read and discussed.

In summary

Art can give us a different perspective on what it means to communicate. The full benefits of experience design for the web can be maximized with an art-based approach. Websites can do more than deliver messages; they can act as portals for ideas to be discovered, shared, and experienced. In addition, organisations will benefit from artist-led inside>out thinking when building a brand experience.