Making the Brand.com Dream Real

This is the second blog of the FITCH Brand.com Dream blog series, which explores how a brand’s website can function beyond a simple transaction, and tap into the Dreaming mindstate to become a meaningful experience filled with delight and discovery.

Chirag Grover, Senior Digital Designer, and Dan Baczynski, Senior UX Designer at FITCH London, explore the design features which engage the Dreaming mindstate…

We all know COVID-19 has affected the roles of the physical and digital stores, and our shopping habits and preferences with it. Presently, stores are in the early stages of reopening around new guides and benchmarks, and so people largely feel safer exploring most purchases digitally in the safety of their own homes (for now).

But when we open our different apps, are we feeling inspired? Does the brand meet our interests and foster our curiosities? Do we feel a sense of wonder, and become immersed in the brand experience, like we might when we walk through the doors of a physical flagship?

The joy of shopping is so often lost online — simply because it’s a place where we’re used to making purely transactional decisions. In the previous blog, Chloe Lam looked at this in the context of FITCH’s DEL shopper mindstates framework:

Whilst consumers enjoy the unmatched convenience of online shopping via Locating and Exploring, there’s also now a very big opportunity for brands to close this loop and deliver on the Dreaming mindstate better — and reap the key business benefits in doing so.

But what does Dreaming mean for your brand?

In this blog we will explore the different ways you can tap into Dreaming and flip your functional .com into a meaningful, wonderous experience: a Brand.com.

The Dreaming Scale

Whether you want to add a touch of Dreaming to your ecomm experience or go all out on the most dreamlike experience possible, there is an option for your brand. Crucially, digital experiences that appeal to the Dreaming mindstate must be balanced and complement existing customer perceptions of the brand. There’s no one-size-fits-all.

By engaging the Dreaming mindstate in the right way to suit, it can make the brand experience unique and joyful — and so a very powerful way to create an incredible shopping experience online and drive future-focused growth.

To make things simpler, we’ve devised ‘The Dreaming Scale’ to showcase the ways websites can be designed to engage the Dreaming mindstate.

Day Dreaming: aesthetic focus without distracting

· Beautiful content and Seamless UX

Focusing on thoughtful art direction and seamless UX provides differentiation from the usual catalogue styling of many ecommerce sites. A more inspirational look with an undercurrent of simplicity allows brands to curate a beautiful place where their customers will want to spend more time.

Zara is expert at this with its editorial style. The quirky manner in which it shoots models wearing the pieces evokes feelings of a glossy magazine, and light movements as you hover over the images makes for a pleasant, unusual shopping experience.

Skincare brand Plenaire is more editorial in its style too; product ranges are displayed simply and beautifully, allowing customers to dream about the brand world and become absorbed in the experience itself, rather than just making a quick transaction.

· Micro-interactions

Small changes make for big impact. Adding a touch of personalisation or creating something more experiential and unexpected across a website can make the experience more special, without having to overhaul entirely.

This sort of interaction can mean different things for different brands. Ideally, it will align with brand tov and experience strategy, but key will be to remember the desired impact — is it little moments of surprise like with Superfluid.

Or maybe its delightful, like with Femme and Fierce. The Dutch brand has created kitsch and fun areas in its website that bring its brand to life; products move in dynamic ways, and when it thinks you’re paying attention fun GIFs appear, adding an element of the unexpected and quirky.

Light Dreaming: an extra dose of imagination

· Sectional dreaming

Upping the ante from micro-interactions, businesses can create sections of an ecommerce experience dedicated to engaging the Dreaming mindstate; ensuring ecommerce is unhindered while offering a hero experience in specific areas.

Luggage brand Rimowa has a traditional website with customised sections, so when a customer navigates through they find fun interactions such as 3D elements and customisation tools, creating a more immersive encounter and inspiring visitors.

· Microsites

Microsites are an excellent way to experiment and be more playful without taking too much risk. They also act as a clever way of bringing people back to a brand on digital channels. This is great for events, collection launches, collaborations or product deep dives. Runaway successes can be integrated into wider ecommerce platforms at a later date.

Gucci is the master of the micro-site; showcasing products in a fun way — consumers can play games that encourage unusual and engaging interactions with Gucci products, ultimately creating buzz about the brand and inspiring shoppers.

On another micro-site, the brand has been partnering with illustrators to recreate its new collection so customers can dream and discover new experiences, even enabling them to paint the site itself.

Cycle brand Vanmoof offers a micro-site that is designed for deep product exploration, enabling the customer to imagine owning one of the products. Vanmoof has successfully enabled exploration of the product in a tangible way through engaging the Dreaming mindstate — allowing customers to touch and interact with the product they’re looking at. The brand has also made use of clever 3D experiences and QR codes that allow customers to view the product in AR.

Deep Dreaming: immersive and guided

· Playful ecomm

This level of Dreaming is good for brands with a small product range, but a big identity! It experiments with playful website design to help tell the story of the brand, how the products were made and to educate customers about its origin. This allows customers to truly be absorbed into a brand world. However, any brand experimenting with deeper Dreaming formats should still ensure their ecommerce flow isn’t hindered — so if a person wants to purchase something, then they can with absolute ease.

Drinks brand Poppi is a great example of playful ecomm in action. On arrival, customers are met with a beautiful discovery experience that talks them through the story and products, with beautiful visuals to bring the brand to life. It feels fun and interesting, appealing to people’s sense of wonder, but also very easy to complete the order and purchase.

Cannabis brand MA True Cannabis similarly experiments with more dreamlike formats to educate the user about a relatively new product.

· Dream big

Now we get to the total Dream experience; websites with the main focus on the experience and less on the commerce. It is a brave, experimental, and risky move. Of course — because it’s design — it is also completely subjective. But there are exciting and impactful ways to experiment with the dream big formats. This is to be chosen by brands with smaller product ranges, or who want to reinforce brand love rather than hit sales targets.

Luxury fine wines retailer Campo alle Comete has chosen to be completely experimental in its approach with an utterly unusual brand ‘world’ created on its main website. The product is expensive and sought after, so they can afford to be more about storytelling rather than traditional ecommerce.

Ultimately, it’s important to review exactly what you’re selling, what your brand ethos is and why you’re investing in a more dreamlike experience.

Dreamlike elements should come as part of the experience package, incorporating the right amount for each of Dreaming, Exploring and Locating (DEL), unique to your brand and your objectives.

People love the Dreaming mindstate because it immerses them in a delightful brand world. Of course, first-timers and cynics will resist going deep too quickly, but if you can take your customers on a Dreaming journey into your brand, you’ll have fans for life.

In the next blog of the Brand.com Dream series, we will look to the future; the possibilities and innovations we should know about and pay attention to, as we move forward in 2020 and beyond.

If you’d like to book in your brand’s Dreaming, Exploring, Locating audit with our Chief Strategy Officer Morgan Holt — get in touch: hello@fitch.com

Follow Chirag and Dan as well as FITCH on LinkedIn

FITCH is a global design consultancy. Designing the Future. Online, offline and in person.