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Brand Development Before Product

Ben McCraw
Head of Studio & Co-Founder - Accomplice

Building a product for a brand should not be considered a single effort within an organization. Rather a continuation (or realization) of that brand. And brand development should always come first.

Brands were once a single registered trademark. Today we must effectively support a brand through digital products, mobile applications, physical and interactive experiences. Emerging tech, such as Internet of Things (IoT), introduces an entirely new way to think about how consumers experience brands.

John Williams from Entrepreneur.com says that strong brand equity begins with consistent, strategic brand development. “Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe, but the attached experience.” Williams continues.

Digital products deliver a brand’s promise and communicates its value.


For consumer goods, advertising and PR have created a longstanding system for how to make brand promises come true through physical products. But how do brand promises translate to digital features, interactions, animations and more?

You start at the beginning: with brand strategy. For established brands, this means ensuring you truly understand the organization, its goals, and its users. For a new brand, this means putting in the time to establish the product’s brand voice, values, and design language.

Development shouldn’t begin before design has been thought through or, even worse, branding shouldn’t come before a clear mission statement or value offering has been established. But in software, many times it does. These important steps are in place for a reason. Although time-consuming, if we remove these steps or alter their order, we compromise and challenge the integrity and success of the end result. These shortcuts ultimately end up costing valuable time in the long run.

There are many components to building a product around a brand. Bottom line,

….thoughtful product decisions are for the sole purpose of delivering upon the promise of the brand. Hence, the purpose of brand development.

Through patience, a bit of research, thoughtful preparation, and intelligent execution on both brand and experience, products can bring tremendous value to users and investors alike.

Whether you are a designer, developer, business owner, or investor, my advice remains the same: Understand the value offering, establish the brand, and then build your product around those two critical pillars.


Accomplice specializes in creating consumer experiences for today’s brands – from digital to physical spaces. Visit our website to learn more about the Accomplice team.

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