How Digital Products Define the Brand Image

Profile picture for user Fernanda González

Fernanda González
Group Experience Director

HP printing press

Lea este artículo en español aquí.

In the vast digital ecosystem, brands often have to play by the rules of third-party platforms. Social media, whilst incredibly helpful in the pursuit of business expansion, comes with a set of regulations, codes and best practices that everyone has to comply with. Similarly, large ecommerce sites offer little room for differentiation—with a few exceptions. But beyond these highly necessary platforms, digital products owned by brands themselves rise as flexible tools to transform the brand experience.

Owned digital products designate every digital platform whose code belongs to the brand. The terms “platforms” and “digital products” are often used interchangeably, but while the former can be mistaken for third-party channels like TikTok or IG, the latter is, in my opinion, a better name for a brand’s unique spaces. Marked by flexibility and potential for personalization, these digital products encompass everything from dotcoms to TV apps—and can serve whatever purpose brands deem necessary in meeting their goals and keeping with consumers’ desires.

Because there are no intermediaries, you can have full authority over the brand image that your digital products project. And that’s a big responsibility. What the brand experience looks and feels like on these platforms is how people will perceive your brand to be, so what should you prioritize when it comes to building your own digital products? 

Functionality, efficiency and innovation.

Back in the day, websites were unidirectional and served mostly as a source of information. Now, standards are higher. Whether we’re looking at content hubs or a smartwatch app, successful digital products must strike the right balance between functionality, efficiency and innovation. Consumers won’t stick around for websites that make it hard for them to find what they are looking for—or even worse, that don't fully work—but they will remain loyal to those that provide a seamless user experience.

Monk Thoughts Out of the entire brand ecosystem, owned digital products should be the most convenient channels for consumers to use.
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Fernanda Gonzalez headshot
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That said, building functional websites from scratch is no easy feat. Because of this, many brands resort to auto-site builders—especially when it comes to ecommerce integrations. While this may temporarily fix the problem, website templates are not a permanent solution because it begs the question of whether consumers are going to be able to remember it. As they search for product options and scour through multiple tabs, will yours stand out among the rest?

Innovation is about creating the “wow” moments that will remain engraved in people’s minds, and adding interesting features that make a platform completely different from those of your competitors—even if your offering is similar. HP’s Possibility City, for example, is not just another ecommerce platform. Rather, it’s a showcase of HP’s digital printing presses that doubles as a hub to house sales events—from product presentations and webinars to one-on-one demos. And while visitors explore the brand’s lineup, the platform learns from their interests and provides them with tailored content recommendations.

HP Possibility City website screenshot of closeup of messages

Data and personalization: the next frontier of loyalty.

Provided that your platform is intuitive in its use and delightful in its appearance, the next step is to offer personalized features that make the experience truly unique. To get there, you need the data analytics infrastructure to provide valuable information about your consumers and a team of experts who can turn that into actionable insights.

I always work closely with the data team on both the company and the client side to improve our customer understanding. On one hand, a strong first-party data framework can help you identify how consumers are moving across the ecosystem—where they click, how they behave and where they find friction points. By designing around these general trends, you can deliver a more seamless experience for all.

On the other hand, individual data unlocks a new world of possibilities in terms of personalization. With Possibility City, for example, we included a virtual assistant that learns from visitor preferences—whether they’re looking for efficiency, sustainability, security or other priorities—and guides them through the brand’s offering. We also tied the platform into a CRM funnel that helps automate the closing of sales, keeping us informed of customer needs and how to improve efficiency. 

Designing around your business priority.

In addition to collaborating with data experts, my team and I work closely with the business consulting unit, as they can provide valuable insights into a brand’s digital roadmap and long-term business goals. Digital products should be built around this vision—not only to help brands achieve their goals quicker; also, to ensure their platforms are one-of-a-kind. 

In working with multiple airlines throughout my career, for example, I found that while some needs were universal, no two business models were ever alike. Options like “book a flight,” “check-in,” or “see my reservation” were common currency—but while certain brands simply wanted a functional app to help travelers organize their trips, others sought to raise the average ticket value by encouraging consumers to opt for upgrades, extra bags and other add-ons. The mere act of designing around these priorities made each platform totally different from the next. 

The bottom line is that digital products are as much the translation of your business as they are the embodiment of your brand identity. To get the most out of them, you need to understand your consumers and, above all, your own brand. In working with clients, my goal is to help them create differentiated products that drive their business forward, and it’s the brand’s values and identity that ultimately do the trick. By taking identifiable brand elements and combining them with functional, innovative and personalized digital products, we can create a truly memorable brand experience that forges deeper connections with your audience.

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