“Mobile First” Branding

 18th April 2016
By johnwilliamson

A focused brand is a better brand: 10 ways how a “Mobile First” strategy can help communicate essential values. A Mobile First Strategy helps develop brands which communicate their essential values rapidly, simply and without clutter. Check out our 10 points on how a Mobile First strategy can help develop better brands


User Experience methodologies add value and are central to the Brand User Experience philosophy we profess here at Agencia YOU. It is our raison d’être (modus operandi).

Of all the UX methodologies and strategies, “Mobile First” is possibly the most user-centric one of all as it focuses the design of interactions to be as fast and focused as possible.

Although Mobile First is a strategy (as opposed to a methodology), it is also common to disciplines other than UX, such as front and back end dev and project management. It is part of UX’s arsenal and can be hugely relevant to Branding.

Definition – What does Mobile First Strategy mean? According to Techopedia, the mobile first strategy refers to “…companies’ increasing tendency to design their products for mobile phones or devices before making correlate designs for traditional desktop and laptop computers.”.

But what interests us in the Branding world about Mobile First is the way this strategy helps us focus on the essential traits and elements of what we’re trying to design and develop; better and more empathetic brands. This strategy is best defined by the person who coined the phrase in the first place; Luke Wroblewski in his book Mobile First… “Mobile first means that you start your design process off by designing for mobile. Once you have that done, you can easily modify the design for pc. The main reasoning behind this is that if you voluntarily constrain yourself to mobile, you will be forced to make decisions about what is really important, and what you need to focus on. By doing that, you will make decisions that you would never be forced to make when designing for pc first. The result is almost always a focused, cleaner, and more usable design.”

Basically what this is saying is that one has to be more focused and efficient because mobile has less “room” to fill with secondary stuff. It’s the primary elements which must be identified and prevail. When we have less “room” (space or time) to get our point across, we’re forced to be more efficient.

So, how could we apply this to Brand development and what positive effect could it have?
I especially like Wroblewski’s phrase “The result is almost always a focused, cleaner, and more usable design” because a more usable and understandable brand is the most user-focused and friendly one as it rapidly expresses its essential aspects.

This point is important because at the initial stage of brand development this strategy helps us concentrate on what is at the core of a brand. Here we are identifying what is priority. In the same way a UX designer has to consider the constraints and context a user interacts in a mobile scenario (area, legibility, gestures, time, etc.), we should also consider how our user interacts with our brand and design accordingly for them.
So, let’s ask ourselves a few questions about our brand:
· Is our product/service description too wordy? can it be reduced further?
· Would adding a slogan or a tag-line to our brand make it more understandable?
· Should we develop video over written content?

So, here are our 10 points on how a Mobile First strategy can help develop better brands:
1. Start with the most simplistic core foundation
2. Trim down the content to its most vital elements: get the message across rapidly, simply and without clutter
3. Be more efficient: we have less “room” (space or time) to get our point across
4. Be more user-centric: speak to you brand users of their needs instead of waffling on about the details of your product/service
5. Think about how to present content: are we quick and efficient and do it all on video?
6. Put your brand in your users’ hands (literally): should you create an app for them?
7. Struggle to make your brand’s social media bios really efficient: write them from the brand users point of view
8. Don’t mix your content: keep the detail away from the key brand values
9. Throw away your brand’s mission statement, values and vision: replace them all with a Mantra
10. “Be simple, elegant and quick”

We’re going to give the last word to possibly the best quote and article on the subject of Mobile First Strategy: “This helps in keeping the core values you want to present to the users in the forefront without flooding with superfluous amounts of filler”
You can find it and more about the art of mobile first here: zurb.com/word/mobile-first

Thanks for reading and please share this article if you liked it and please leave a comment below.

Photo: “Core Gear” by Richard May CC BY 2.0

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