Thursday 9 September 2010

Keynote by Josh Ulm at Mobile HCI 2010

Josh Ulm discussed how branding (and marketing in more general) has evolved and how this is now central to user experience and user interface design. He started out with showing how Nike changed marketing with the "Just Do It" campaign. He suggested that this was a transition from a product focus to a personal usage focus asking "who you become if you use the product".

Moving towards more resent trends he argued that the iPod made the interaction with the product the essential part of the branding. With examples such as eBay and Google he showed that interaction in combination with information presentation becomes that discriminating factor and the way these brands define themselves. Overall this suggests that the user interaction and user experience is the central part for making a brand to stand out.

Standing out is not sufficient however. The experience has to be ownable. Using zappos as an example he showed how such an experience needs to be consistent across all touch points with the user - especially if you are defining your brand by experience - in short a brand has to have a unique user experience that is associated with the brand only. To achieve this there are three ingredients:
  • Values - "values have to extent into every single touchpoint of the experience"
  • Differentiation "you need to stand out in the market place" - many companies do not innovate enough, you have to take risks to stand out because you have to stand out a lot to be different - most companies do only innovate a little
  • Integrity - internal consistency - the brand is about what customers really touch - what reaches the customers - can a customer recognize that this is your experience, detail matter
To be successful an experience needs to be ownable and good. You need both - one is not enough. As a concluding example he showed Vodafone 360 - (which very few people in the audience knew). My short assessment is that the brand failed on "Differentiation" - to me (and obviously I would expect Josh Ulm is not agreeing) it is too similar to other things in this space…

As a further example of a strong Differentiation he showed Jeff Fong's Metro UI for the new Windows mobile phone platform. If you have not seen the design check this out. It is very different from current Android and iPhone UIs. Everyone is really curious how it will do in the market…