Creating your digital brand experience. As digital experience designers and developers, we here at Perfect know that building a digital brand is challenging. We have seen the full spectrum of approaches, but there are two that we see over and over. Some organizations go in-house while others like to “contract out” design and development to vendors.

In either case, the goal remains the same: create a brand experience for customers that is

  1. Easy to discover and navigate.
  2. Results in a positive reflection on the brand.

In other words, positive brand experiences = happy customers, and happy customers = repeat business and referrals.

We find that when organizations develop their digital brands in-house they do so mainly because they are concerned about having visibility and control over the project. After all, the success of their brand may be in the hands of the development team! The organization naturally wants to keep an eye on things.

A side benefit of in-house development is that when the project is over the organization retains the skills it has learned and the resources developed for the next project. If you’ve got a team that can build awesome digital brand experiences, great! The trade-off is that not every organization has a team with the necessary resources and know-how at its fingertips to accomplish this successfully.

Because of this, organizations typically choose Door #2: they opt to outsource and ‘rent’ a workforce.  This approach can provide a major benefit by introducing innovative ideas and new technologies that the organization might not have considered on its own. But this advantage comes at a cost: the outsourced team is much more distant from the organization, and there is less visibility and accountability.

Is there a middle-ground where organizations and external resources share the responsibility, resources, and know-how to craft and deliver compelling brand experiences?  At Perfect, we believe that there is: the partnership.

What does a partnership involve?

In an article called “What Does It Mean To Be A True ‘Partner’?”, Cory Treffiletti succinctly describes the difference between outsourcing and partnering:

“… A partner is a valued relationship.  A vendor is an order-taker.  A partner is someone who adds value beyond the exact words of a contract, where a vendor does exactly what they’re told and nothing more.  A partner is willing to say “no” and willing to fight for ideas and engage in intelligent discourse.  A vendor fears conflict and does what they’re asked, even if they don’t believe it’s the right thing to do.”

At Perfect, we believe that there are four key aspects to a successful digital brand experience partnership:

#1 – Shared Goals. Your success must be our success.

Your brand is the hero, and your chosen partner should be the hero’s trusted design and technology sidekick.  Your partner must understand your vision and your goals. Your partner must work with you to formalize the plan for the brand. Your partner must help you execute on the defined digital experience to ensure that it encourages the desired customer behaviors and drives your brand’s success.

#2 – Shared Priorities. We must pool knowledge.

You know your business. Your partner knows the digital brand experience.  When both of you are openly sharing and applying your collective knowledge and skills, you will be able to craft an experience for your customers that neither of you could achieve independently.

#3 – Shared Responsibility. Everyone collaborates and everyone is accountable.

Everyone must be accountable for the final product being delivered. We believe this is best achieved through open collaboration between you and your partner as far as possible. This includes strategies, knowledge, skills, and resources.  There can be no passing of information back and forth over a “fence” between you and your partner – knowledge should be shared freely. Since everyone is on board, everyone shares responsibility.

#4 – Long-Term Vision. Keep the long view.

To achieve long-term success, you need to think long-term. This mindset should be built into the partnership from the beginning, providing rewards and incentives for long-term growth and value creation. This requires a mental shift away from the constant focus on immediate problems. Instead of saying, “We need a website,” or “We want an app,” the partnership should be geared toward the overall objectives of the brand.

Don’t outsource. Partner.

Your customers deserve the powerful brand experiences that a relationship with a trusted partner can bring. It’s time to stop contracting with vendors that deliver the bare minimum. Consider the benefits of a partnership, and never outsource again.

About Perfect

Everyone has a digital experience, good or bad. Perfect is a global design and technology firm. We work with brands to simplify the digital experience.

Mike Gonzalez is the founder of Perfect, and spends his time working with organizations to craft great experiences. Have a project you would like to collaborate with us on? .