January 31, 2011

Does Branding Enhance the Users Experience?

Sitting on a plane headed home in that end of trip fog, tired, glad to be headed home to family and at the same time I'll be missing eating out and having someone else make my bed. I took note that on this trip a strong brand really did make for a better experience for me.

Let's start with a simple example of how a weak or inconstant brand can hurt the user experience. You buy a product and the packaging design is different from the manual design and the logo on the product doesn't match the logo on the box. Did you get the right instructions; is the product I bought old in a new box? No wants to feel unsure about a purchase, but branding inconsistencies can create doubt in your customers. Your logo, website, packaging, documentation, font, company personality, colors and much more all go into your brand. Having a strong brand communicates that your company is professional, organized and knows what it is doing. All of which give your customers piece of mind.

This particular trip it was my pleasure to stay in a Hard Rock Hotel. I've never stayed in one before always assuming it would be too expensive. This trip however it was a cheaper option than the nearby alternatives. As this was a business trip the hotel wasn't something I was particularly concerned with but upon arrival I was immediately taken by the interesting surroundings and friendly employees—it's fun to look around and see the music memorabilia. Once in my room I was struck by the consistency of one particular branding element. They use a tribal tattoo as a branding accent and it was everywhere, but it was subtle. The edge of a mirror, pattern on a towel, a custom ironing board cover, a bag that held an extra roll of toilet paper. You can see a bit of it on the Hard Rock Website on the bar at the bottom of the main images. There were other subtle branding elements everywhere. Classic Rock played in the lobby, elevators and even in the room when you entered it. The walls were covered in music memorabilia donated by different musicians and the other artwork was related to music in some way. Even the iron had a neon light around the base. They could have purchased cheaper irons but by going that extra step it added to the overall appeal of the brand.

It also became evident that the Hard Rock has a target market they were appealing to. High tech TV system, lots of black, simple clean designs, leather, the right brands of alcohol in the fridge, the attire of the female staff, the masculine fragrance of the shampoo and soap, this is a hotel for guys. Which isn't to say woman won't like it, I'm just saying this strong brand hit the mark and the mark is primarily men.

I had a great time and would stay in a Hard Rock again. Does a strong brand enhance the user experience? I'd have to say yes, in this case it did.

January 08, 2011

Facebook Profile and Pages Usernames

I made a mistake setting up a username for my Facebook account and I wanted to share it so maybe others won't make the same mistake.

First off lets get some terms out of the way so you'll be able to understand what your reading here and in Facebook forums. A Facebook Profile is for a person and a Facebook Page, (Formally a Fan Page), is for a business. A Username, (sometimes called a vanity URL), is a way to make you or your business easier to find. For example my business, Your Art Director, has the Facebook link, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Your-Art-Director/122752040711, if I had not made a little error I could of set up a username and made the link, http://www.facebook.com/YourArtDirector, (Don't click that link, it goes nowhere). Much easier for people to find.

You can go to this link to sign up for your Facebook Page for your company, but you need to understand that Facebook was intended to be a place for individuals to connect and you will need to link the company page to a personal profile to be able to do certain things, like get a username, but I'll get to that later. Here is a little known rule, you're only allowed one Facebook account, and according to Facebook rules you can lose access to all your accounts for having more than one. So once you set up the business page you are expected to set up a profile, or link it to your existing profile. Then your going to want to set up your user name to make it easy for people to find you, but you can't yet, you must have 25 people like your business page before you can set up a user name. So copy the long link and email to everyone you know and ask them to log into their Facebook accounts and click the LIKE button at the top of the page next to your business name.

This post from All Facebook, How To Create A Business Account On Facebook Without A Personal One, says you don't have to link the business page to a personal profile, and that's true, however I was unable to make a username until I had linked the page to a profile. I suggest you set up your page, get your 25 LIKEs and then try to make a username at this link. Maybe it will work for you.

My Mistake:
My mistake was that I entered the username I wanted for my business page in the personal profile settings. To set up a username for a business page you must be sure you do it here, facebook.com/username. You're only allowed to change your personal profile username once. As soon as  I realized my mistake I quickly changed the username on my personal profile, for the one time, in hopes the username would become available for my business page, but alas, it didn't. I have seen many posts, i.e. Transfer personal facebook username to business page, about people that have made the same mistake asking Facebook for help. Here is a post on changing usernames, note the red letters warning you you may lose the username altogether.

I am now talking to Facebook Tech Support. They are asking for proof the company names are a registered trademark. Hopefully I will be able to get it all squared away. Good Luck to you, I hope this post helps.