How unexpected beauty builds memorable brands
When was the last time you experienced beauty in an unexpected place and were memorably surprised? Thoughtful design can do this, putting the right thing in the precise place you need or expect it. Apple's user experience design is known for this. So can unexpected beauty - making something lovelier than its function requires for the enjoyment of the user.
When I'm surprised by beauty or thoughtful design, I capture a picture or take note of what surprised me to feed later inspiration. Great B2B marketing can take queues from B2C examples, and vice versa. An unexpected place I sometimes find these examples is in well-designed, beautiful restaurant bathrooms. Memorable favorites include Launderette's in Austin, Poole's Diner in Raleigh and Lantern's in Chapel Hill. These establishments have spent time, money and energy to create a brand experience for diners that starts on their website and is strengthened by a dining experience. Why break that brand experience when customers make an inevitable trip to the lavatory? Conversely, when I've had an incredible meal in a beautiful space only to encounter a restroom that reminds me of a college dorm or is so beige-bland it feels divorced from the vibrant dining room, I notice. They haven't thought about this part of the user experience, or they have and don't care (or think I won't). Au contraire.
Why am I talking about restaurant bathrooms? Because bad bathrooms and unexpectedly beautiful ones teach a principle we can apply to inject unexpected beauty and function into client experience, auditing customer journeys for neglected spots that detract from brand building. Where are your "neglected bathrooms"? They might be sections of your website like the Support or About Us pages, old forms or workflows, a poorly designed mobile app or support process, on-hold music. Are they just untouched by your visual brand? Less user-friendly or empathetic than the brand personality clients have come to expect? A short-term placeholder that never got replaced? The juxtaposition is most striking if you've otherwise built a strong, human brand.
Revisiting these overlooked elements of a customer's experience is usually simple and straightforward to fix - write better content, redesign a section of your website, publish a better call script or inject your auto-response emails with personality. Fresh paint, good lighting, mouthwash on the counter. We notice these things as restaurant patrons, your clients notice their equivalents when they interact with you too.