Time & Space

A brand is not a logo, a visual style guide, a color palette, or a set of icons. It’s a set of feelings or impressions people have about a company and its products or services. A solid brand experience is achieved using a set of messages that exist in time and space.

In a product company, an effective brand execution strategy involves the coordinated effort of the product, user-experience, engineering and marketing teams. With a non-linear relationship, the combined effort of these departments touches on each aspect of the user-experience. The overarching goal is to establish a brand space that contains consistent visual and verbal content, providing users with useful features and relevant information.

The final frontier

Space plays a valuable role in this process.

Space plays a valuable role in this process. It's the area that's defined for the messaging to take place. Each web property, UI element, image, copy line, tweet, notification, advertisement, business card, profile is an opportunity to provide a message that is consistent with the vision or essence of the company, and tailored for a particular audience (or better yet, action profile).

Successful brand execution involves elements that exist in the right place. Useful, relevant information is provided with a consistent visual/verbal language. Timely content is displayed in an appropriate, non-distracting way. The user is able to navigate through the space, obtaining useful information and features along the way.

Gestalt much?

A brand is greater than the sum of it's parts. Here are a few key elements that create the space for a brand to exist:

  • Identifiers: logos, icons marks, names. Think of these as equivalent to proper nouns.
  • Language: visual/verbal tone, editorial style, color and type palettes, layout and visual design, etc.
  • Relevant information: call to action hierarchy, product information, company information, up-to-date information. items that pull, instead of push.
  • Promotional: product marketing, suggestions, offers, calendar-related content, items that push.

A time and a place

Through the process, a story unfolds via elements that each have a unique shelf life.

Time is the primary factor in determining the relevance of information or messaging. Each of the items listed above have specific times in which they are most relevant. Therefore, the timing of each message provides an opportunity to create a message that is on-brand, and most importantly, on-point.

Through the process, a story unfolds via elements that each have a unique shelf life. The longer the shelf life, the longer it will need to maintain its place in the system. Therefore it's best for elements with a longer shelf life to contain features that are more timeless and less likely to be dated. For example, the logo of a company should hold it’s structure and relevance over time, while timely, calendar-driven, promotional content can take the form of the latest visual and verbal trends.

Regarding a company's voice, the devil is in the details. While overarching elements such as the company name or tagline might be equivalent to something like a logo or type treatment, more granular items such as notifications or error messages represent an opportunity for the personality of a brand to shine. Each detail is a space to reinforce the tone and feel of an overarching message.

For example, a security company whose app is designed to filter out viruses on your PC might have a more serious and reassuring tone in the error messaging. A social app designed to play games with friends might deliver the same type of error message in a more playful, casual tone. Regardless of what type of voice a company is going for, it's important that it maps out the verbal messaging in the same way it maps out its visual design and promotional initiatives.

Keep it real

If a company or organization is aware of how messages are affected by time and space, it will be in a much better position to create consistent messaging without having to re-invent the wheel each time. A tiered messaging and touchpoint structure, based on the shelf life of each item, is useful in understanding how elements work together to reinforce the essence of a company's brand. A well thought-out approach will provide a scalable system as new ideas are added, removed and launched.