Christopher Mur­phy on the im­por­tance of touch­points to com­mu­ni­cate your brand mes­sage

net magazine - - VOICES -

In the eleventh article in my on­go­ing se­ries ex­plor­ing the de­sign of busi­ness, I’ll ex­plore the role that touch­points play in build­ing both brand aware­ness and cre­at­ing con­nec­tions with your cus­tomers. Put sim­ply, touch­points are all the points at which your brand comes into con­tact with your cus­tomers. Touch­points can come in many shapes and sizes, and they can en­com­pass both dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal me­dia, too.

On­line these might be your site, your news­let­ter or even the way you com­mu­ni­cate us­ing so­cial chan­nels. Off­line these might be stick­ers, badges or other forms of printed ephemera. Re­gard­less of the medium, your touch­points should be a dis­til­la­tion of your brand and en­cap­su­late the story you are telling.

As Alina Wheeler puts it, in her ex­cel­lent book De­sign­ing Brand Iden­tity:

• Each touch­point is an op­por­tu­nity to strengthen [your] brand and to com­mu­ni­cate its essence.

• With your story dis­tilled, put some thought into the touch­points you cre­ate to com­mu­ni­cate your brand mes­sage. They form a crit­i­cal part of your brand sto­ry­telling and shouldn’t be left to chance.

• We might spend an in­creas­ing amount of our time glued to screens of one form or an­other, but we all – once in a while! – live in the ‘real’ world, too.

• Con­sid­er­ing how you con­nect with your cus­tomers off­line is im­por­tant and, when ev­ery­one else is on­line, helps you stand out.

• Your busi­ness cards, schwag that you share and other beau­ti­fully de­signed pro­mo­tional items com­bine to cre­ate a nar­ra­tive that com­mu­ni­cates up your mes­sage. All of these lit­tle de­tails add up.

Build­ing Char­ac­ter

GitHub is a great ex­am­ple of a brand that con­sid­ers its off­line touch­points with care and painstak­ing at­ten­tion to de­tail. The brand’s Oc­to­cat – a myth­i­cal an­i­mal that is a hybrid oc­to­pus and cat – is a mas­cot that sits at the heart of the busi­ness’s iden­tity. With a com­mu­nity of over 24 mil­lion peo­ple, GitHub has cre­ated a wealth of touch­points cen­tred around the fan­tas­ti­cal crea­ture.

De­signed by Cameron McEfee, the Oc­to­cat is now, as McEfee puts it: “a (nerdy) house­hold name, ” and the busi­ness’s stick­ers, which proudly adorn many a lap­top, are avail­able in a mul­ti­tude of styles. Re­flect­ing on the mas­cot’s 2011 re­design, McEfee states: “I felt the orig­i­nal im­age lacked an as­so­ci­ated story and per­son­al­ity, so de­cided to go be­yond a sim­ple cos­tume and cre­ate an en­tire scene.”

McEfee’s Oc­to­cat il­lus­tra­tions for the busi­ness’s 404 pages were so well-re­ceived that he was tasked with cre­at­ing vari­a­tions of the Oc­to­cat (all snapped up by cus­tomers). With its fo­cus on ver­sion con­trol, GitHub has a pub­lic re­pos­i­tory, the Oc­todex, that cel­e­brates the Oc­to­cat in its many forms.

It’s a mea­sure of these touch­point’s suc­cess that GitHub has gath­ered them in a shop ( github. where loyal cus­tomers can pur­chase T-shirts, tote bags and stick­ers ga­lore. Your brand might not have the marketing mus­cle of GitHub, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fo­cus on the de­tails and cre­ate touch­points to con­nect to your cus­tomers. If your brand takes off – who knows? – your touch­points might form the ba­sis of an ad­di­tional rev­enue stream (a real win-win!).

Brand mes­sage GitHub of­fers beau­ti­fully de­signed touch­points to adorn lap­tops

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