Creative Director of ArtVersion, a Chicago design consultancy. We craft ideal user experiences for the world’s most innovative companies.
Branding in such a saturated, ever-evolving market has become a form of choreography. Propelling a brand’s identity and mission to a new audience, or navigating trends to re-engage an established audience, is all about getting the steps right and placing careful attention to the movement of dynamic trends and preferences to allow for a smooth outcome.
Commonly used in UI/UX development, and highly regarded in our own digital design agency, iterative design is utilized to cycle areas in development to improve upon every version until a desired outcome is achieved. Iterative, however, is an agile approach that can be applied to a plethora of workflows and strategies that include branding.
Companies are leveraging iterations because it enables their brand to be kept in the loop of new trends and generational shift preferences that strengthen their positioning. Much like iterative design would be utilized to modify changes in digital design, it can also efficiently be incorporated to enable the momentum of a brand’s identity.
Iterative Design Encourages Brand Relevancy
The market refuses to be a stagnant entity, especially due to the boundless modes of digital and technological advancements that continue to emerge. The focus groups that participate in the market have evolving expectations for the brands they are engaging with. Brands have leveraged this by adapting to these changes and are constantly seeking methods to improve their products and services.
As consumer expectations, modes of brand advertising and cultural/societal changes advance, brands are utilizing iterative design to continually incorporate changes to create consumer resonance. Whether through small or significant iterations, many brands have amalgamated a brand refresh, or rebranding, based on the need for relevancy. Brand refreshes that integrate iterative aim to reconnect a target audience with their new alignment, encourage a continual improvement to their brand identity and strengthen brand positioning for their consumers to enjoy.
From visual shifts in digital interfaces to logo redesigns and refreshed marketing collateral messaging, iterative design through a brand refresh can boost relevancy for a brand in the market. Typically, this occurs with research from focus groups. (This stage would be considered the analysis and design stage of iterative.) The way in which consumers inform the design of a brand truly highlights how significant iterative can help quickly propel these alterations.
Communication And Feedback
A fundamental element to iterative design is—and continues to be—feedback and communication between a brand, a brand’s internal team and its consumer. UI/UX processes utilize iterative and feedback between designers, stakeholders and their users as the lifeline of a project’s development. The similarity here is that the priority remains on the person engaging with a design—or in this case, a brand. The purpose to iterate is a focus on those interacting with a company. Thus in a hyperactive market, a happy consumer can elevate a brand.
One of the many limbs of branding is leveraging communication with focus groups to not only obtain feedback but to utilize their opinions for improvement. It can also help to reassess areas your consumer may not enjoy about your brand. This constitutes the feedback and improvement portion of an iterative cycle.
Understanding a consumer is paramount because it informs the way a brand markets and improves pain points in their digital spaces and products/services. Modernly, there are a plethora of modes to communicate with your audiences such as social media, newsletters, events and polls.
Engagement that feels conversational encourages consumers to interact with brands as does posing questions on platforms to encourage users to share their opinions to be leveraged for research. Until the ultimate outcome is achieved, and consumers become satisfied with a brand, iterative marketing can continue to cycle. This further aligns with the idea of building new experiences based on feedback, and the iterative changes that follow.
Embracing A Dynamic Workflow
One of the many benefits of iterative design is its flexible nature throughout any workflow process. It is a framework that embodies a philosophical approach and encourages the notion that editing different areas of marketing should be embraced. A willingness to adhere to change is significant for branding strategies because, as stated, it strengthens brand relevancy, but it also allows brands to analyze what is no longer working and leave those aspects at the door to reconceptualize them into something effective.
Openness to feedback is key for the prototyping stage of the iterative cycle to occur. Adapting to a focus group’s feedback allows brands to prototype changes within their products and services until their feedback is implemented, as well as cycle those changes with consumer response once again. This form of rapid prototyping based on feedback is a cost-effective and quick take to design due to the immediate perspective from your target audience. It removes overhead from predicting what your consumers prefer and replaces it with actual data and research based on communication and the readiness to adjust.
Iterative can align itself in many areas of branding, but focusing on specific areas can propel brand innovation. Key areas to practice iterative strategies are brand messaging and design. Audiences remember brands based on something as simple as a brand’s colors or logo design, so staying current with trends is a great way for brands to remain recognizable. Consistency is key for many company brands to build recognizability and memorability, and this can still be prioritized, but it is beneficial to remain consistent with branding while remaining adaptable to market testing and feedback loops.
Another best practice when utilizing iterative branding is ensuring that you are clear on your purpose. Leveraging focus group research and applying it to your prototyping significantly highlights brand improvement, which in turn, demonstrates to your consumers that you applied their feedback for their enjoyment.
Iterative methodologies can elevate brands and their corresponding, moving elements and ground them with their consumers at the core. A brand is only as successful as their audience that partakes, and staying current can be achieved with an iterative framework.