REAL Interactive Brand User Experience

 23rd August 2015
By johnwilliamson

What do environmental interactive experiences do for their respective Brands? Can User Experience save the financial retail world?

Summary: User Experience is not limited to digital devices, the internet and Apps. When UX is applied to environments in sensorial ways, magic things start to happen and brand shine. Madrid hosts two great examples of just this.

After over 20 years as a design professional, I’m focused on the two areas which I think I’m good at and where I think I can contribute something new. These are Branding and User Experience.
I love all the other areas of design; editorial, packaging, corporate identity, product design, posters, illustration, etc. the list goes on. But, I’ve chosen Branding and UX and I love them both. What REALLY gets me excited is when Branding and User Experience are mixed and interwoven. Branding can take a leaf out of User Experience’s book as can UX Design learn and grow from what Branding has to offer. They are both, after all, about creating Experiences. This is an exciting area to work in and one which I believe will be at the forefront of and lead the way in creative communication.

Let me explain this last point. We all know about Branding, so allow me to muse a little on User Experience. When we think about UX we tend to think about the internet, digital devices, ATM’s, interfaces, Apps, buttons, scrolls, etc… basically all digital channel stuff. There are loads of specialised companies and agencies carrying out projects in this area and doing very well, thank you. But what if we move out and away from digital channels and into the world of atoms and then consider the implications of mixing Branding and User Experience… what happens then? What can we expect from an environment where we can interact by touching, hearing, smelling and even tasting the touch-points a Brand offers us? Now this is exciting! For sure shops and stores are branded environments and have much thought and design work put into them. But I feel they always fall short of being a REAL Interactive Brand User Experience and end up being a fancy “tarted-up” marketplace.

Recently my eyes were opened up by two REAL Interactive Brand User Experiences. Both were by Spanish Building Societies (Cajas). One is La Casa Encendida (originally from Caja Madrid) and the other is the Caixa Forum from La Caixa. Both are exhibition areas which are free to get in and hold expo’s, concerts and other cultural events. They have shops and cafeterias too. I love these places. I love going there with my kids and spending a couple of hours watching films, seeing exhibitions or just hanging out. While I’m there I feel I’m learning by seeing something culturally new and different. I feel relaxed as I interact with these places. These are two REAL Interactive Brand Experiences.

So, what do these interactive experiences do for their respective Brands? On one hand they’re fulfilling the building society Brand promise of putting back some of their profits into something good and positive for the people. They are being generous and creative and it gives these Brands a positive glowing effect. I’m actually warming to two financial institutions. Yes, me!.. someone who’s always thought that the collective noun for Bankers is a “Wunch”. Maybe I’ll consider being a client. Maybe my kids, when they’re old enough, will choose to open an account with one of these financial retailers. Their experience of La Casa Encendida and Caixa Forum will certainly be a positive influence on their future choice.

Companies take note. Interactive Branding is NOT just about how you do things in digital channels. It’s about how you create spaces and experiences which interact and engage with REAL people in the REAL world.

Which interactive brand spaces have caught your attention recently? (good and/or bad). Please leave your comments below

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