Do you remember the first few minutes after receiving your new phone? It’s likely that it came in a small rectangular box. Whether you bought it from a store or online, the thrill and anticipation of finally owning one is real. You took in the size and firmness of the box in your palms. Then slowly, you opened the box and inhaled excitedly to find a glossy screen looking back at you. And when you peeled the plastic off with shaking sweaty fingers, for a brief while, you were hit with a moment of user experience nirvana.
Exhilarating, wasn’t it? It’s not just you though. That smartphone packaging was probably meant to be that way.
Branding is about perception and how users and customers perceive your brand. One factor that shapes perception is the experience they feel when interacting with your product, service or system. This is where the term User Experience comes in. User Experience or UX is the overall emotion and attitude a person feels after using your product or service.
This term is widely used by tech companies. However, it is also applicable to other industries, from F&B and retail to B2B and media. UX is something brands can control to shape how they want their customers to think about them. It applies in a lot of the branding process from product design, packaging to the whole customer experience cycle.
They are similar and used interchangeably, especially in app and web designs. However, UI is more specific than UX. UI refers to the point of interaction between a human user and a computer system; think of website layouts, app designs, and touchscreen buttons. A good UI communicates to the user effectively so that he or she knows how the computer can help complete a task.
UX, on the other hand, comprises of all UI elements and more. It does involve human-computer interaction, but it also wants to see the bigger picture of how users experience the physical product from surveying, buying to consuming. This means UX can be applied outside of IT. It also relates to the fields of industrial design and even ergonomics since they all aim to develop the best environment and experience for the user.
For example, Lazada’s mobile app has a good UI. Users can find their way around, get the information they need and understand how to order and purchase items. However, Lazada’s UX depends if the users’ payment channel is smooth, whether their orders arrive on time or delayed, and if the customers ended up satisfied with the product received.
While both UI and UX are parts of your brand’s customer journey, for this round, we’ll talk about how UX influence your whole brand perception.
UX is a part of your branding. Your brand’s messages have to be embedded in your UX process. A good UX allows customers to achieve the best experience from your brand, ensuring their satisfaction. Bad UX leads to bad customer experience and dissatisfaction, which negatively affects how they will think of your brand.
Let’s go back to you unboxing the new phone. Even before you press the start button and use the phone to send texts, take selfies, or book a Grab, you are already experiencing the phone and simultaneously, its brand. Whether it’s an iPhone, a Samsung, Vivo or Xiaomi, your smartphone’s box is designed to look cool and smart, vying for your attention.
Sure, the main reason for packaging is to protect the goods, but a lot of companies today realise how good packaging can help their brand perception. For smartphones, the boxes are often made from thick and hard paper material with minimal colours, usually black or white. The name and brand of the phone are being embossed in glossy prints on the box and there would be small compartments where the accessories are placed.
These are partly the reasons why unboxing videos have become its own niche genre as well-watched as makeup tutorials on Youtube and social media. People love to watch the gadgets and products revealed in a real, non-advertisement setting. It makes them feel as if they are owning and unboxing the products themselves.
And this is good news for brands. These videos provide brands with free marketing (unless the reviewer is sponsored), brand awareness, and if the customer is happy, a huge referral and encouragement for others to go buy one and experience themselves.
We told you UX is not only for techie things like smartphones. Everyday products like clothes, food, and their packaging can also be designed with good UX in mind. An example is a shirt we recently received from Oxwhite. This startup does not have a physical store and relies solely on e-commerce. So, to be competitive against hundreds of other shirt brands, Oxwhite realises that they have to step up their customer service and user experience game.
The package we received was a nice brown box, the company logo and name printed in large fonts, and all tied with a jute string. This itself already stirred attention (and envy). Upon pulling the string and carefully unboxing what felt like a treasure, we found the shirt wrapped in a white paper, complete with thank you cards. At this point, dozens of pictures had been taken and shared on social media.
Like the smartphones, this demonstrates that even packaging can provide a user experience that is so effective, it influences the customer to feel good about the brand. The UX is further strengthened when the shirt, which was the main product, achieved our expectations as what the brand had promised.
Packaging is not the only method to improve your UX, though it is one good part of it. There are other ways such as product design, check-out and payment system, brand promise, graphics, media and so on. Companies can also identify where they can improve their customer’s UX by getting expert help who can observe how the customers are interacting with their product.
Some companies understand the potential of UX and what it can do for their brand. You can sometimes find people working as Chief Experience Officer or CXO (because it sounds cooler than CEO. And of course, because it’s taken), joining the likes of other C suite managers. But whether or not such positions exist, the goal of every brand should be the same; to make sure the customer’s user experience is optimal and the brand’s messages are communicated.