Christopher Murphy on the importance of touchpoints to communicate your brand message
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.
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. myshopify.com) 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