Djuice and brand innovation in service design – part 1
Experience has been one of the hottest topics in marketing for the last years, and a lot has been said about how important it is to deliver a memorable customer experience and how customer experience can drive business growth in a saturated market. Despite all this talk, little has been written about how to integrate brands and experiences, and brand manuals haven’t changed much since the old the corporate identity days.
Recently, as part of a collaboration between The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), Eggs Design and the commercial service provider djuice, an experience based brand manual was developed for djuice. This was the result of a 4 months exploration, and is part of a Ph.D. research conduced at AHO by Mauricy Motta-Filho.
This process started on March 2014, and the first step was to gather customer, employees and company insights over the djuice brand and service experience. This first exploratory phase allowed us to define the Service Personality (something like the brand from the customer’s perspective), which was the first step in the development of a Brand Experience Manual for djuice.
Fig. 1. The process used to develop djuice’s Brand Experience Manual
Following the definition of the Service Personality, we could move towards to understand how the experience delivered by this personality would be; from that moment on, we moved towards defining design principles that would help to embed that ‘Service Personality’ behaviors on the design process of new service experiences.
In a sense, this became a Service Design Manual, but our focus, being on influencing the brand experience; the customers’ perception of the brand throughout the service interactions – is what makes this process so relevant.
Also, by understanding the service personality, we could define the Experience Proposition, a sentence that condenses what experience the brand wants to deliver to the customer; in other words, how the company wants the customer to feel after interacting with the brand.
The outcomes of the process were presented to a team of djuice and key stakeholders in Telenor Norway. Both the processes and the outcome were very well received. In the following article we will introduce the concepts used at this process, and, throughout the text, present the first reflections on the research.
Branding through experiences
Branding, although a very common concept, suffers from a lack of consensus when it comes to its definition. Most of the time, branding is understood by the grammatical use of the suffix “ing”, which implies some sort of action to the word brand. Thus, branding can be understood as doing brand, in other words, making the brand alive, and, although this is a very good interpretation, it opens space for a discussion on two possible meanings:
- Branding as defining what the brand is, focusing on graphic design, corporate identity, brand values and brand strategy
- Branding as delivering the brand to the customer, focusing on how to deliver brand experiences through the service interaction
The two understandings are not mutually exclusive, and we would argue that branding on the second meaning is not possible without the first, for, to deliver the brand, you must first know what it is about. But only defining the brand won’t do much in the current competitive market. Doesn’t matter how great your brand proposition is, if it never becomes alive.
In this article we choose to focus on the second definition of branding: Branding as delivering the brand experience through service interactions, and brand experience as the customer’s interpretation from the brand interactions.
Although we chose to focus on branding as delivering the brand, we still believe in the huge importance of understanding the brand, and throughout the text you will see that defining the brand was not ignored in the process, as framing the brand through the customer’s eyes is the fist step in developing an experience based brand manual.
So, by branding through experiences we mean: first, understanding the brand through the customers’ perspective; and second, translating this brand into guidelines that could help New Service Development (NSD) teams to embed the brand into the new service experiences. The first part of the process refers to the development of the Service Personality, and the second part, the Brand Experience Manual itself. But before introducing these two concepts, lets review how brands can be embedded into the service experience.
Embedding the brand into the service experience
Service experiences are the result of the customer interaction with the service. As Kahneman (2011) suggests, there is a difference between the lived experience and the remembered experience. In this article we focus on service experience as the remembered one, the result, on the customers’ mind of the interaction, and his evaluation of it.
These experiences emerge through the brand interactions (lived experiences), and it is very difficult to predict exactly what is the customers’ perception of it (remembered experience) will be, as there are many factors that cannot be controlled, such as having a very bad day and getting into the interaction already with the left foot.
Since we can’t directly manipulate the customers’ remembered experience itself, the brand should focus on the elements it can control, the service interactions (lived experience) that will lead to the remembered experiences. Thus the focus shifts to the New Service Development (NSD) process.
It is in the New Service Development (NSD) process that we can embed the brand in the customer experience. It is a process of translation from a concept (the brand) into service interactions that will influence the customers’ perception of the brand, as the brand experience is the overall customers’ perception of the brand through the interaction with multiples (controlled or not) brand’s touch-points.
This process of translating brand into expression is called “semantic transformation” and has been research Karjalainen (2004) on the design of products, and Clatworthy (2012) on the design of services. In this article a research project that intended to create a tool that will help NSD teams to apply the semantic transformation for the djuice brand is presented. As mentioned before, the first step of the process was to understand the brand (define the Service Personality), and its outcome is a tool to help the NSD teams design brand-based experience.
Also, the focus on service design is explained by the role of the NSD process in embedding the brand in the service interactions systems, processes and concept, as those are the elements that will enable the branded experience to emerge, as suggested by Edvardsson and Olsson (1996). In this sense, the experience proposition can be understood as a set of qualities (characteristics) that, when embedded in the service, make the brand shine through the interactions, not only through individual touch points, but through the journey as a whole.
Fig. 2: The Brand Experience Manual sits at the New Service Development level
It is also imporant to notice where the Brand Experience Manual sits in the semantic translation process. As the image above shows, Corporate Identity Manuals sit on the brand corner, and are of little use for the service design process. On the other extreme of the brand – touch-point line, there are the Design Manuals, which are focused on the prescribing how a touch-point should be designed, and are not very re-usable (for more on this topic refer to Motta-Filho 2012).
The Brand Experience Manual, in its turn, is meant to sit in between these two extremes; helping the NSD teams design different touch-points by translating the brand into a service design based brand manual. The assumption is that the consistent use of the Brand Experience Manual will help to align the touch-points and will ensure a coherent brand experience across the service journey.
In the following post this week we will introduce the two main parts of the Brandslation process and introduce the elements of the Brand Experience Manual.
The second part of the blogpost is here.