Earlier this month, Yuga Labs – the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club – disrupted the entire Ethereum blockchain as its users flooded in to buy NFTs representing virtual plots of land in its planned metaverse space, Otherside. It was surprising that what you might think is a small number of the world population would be buying this virtual land, but that would still be enough people to interrupt a blockchain – something we’re told is very stable and secure.

I am optimistic about the possibilities of the metaverse and Web3 but looking at this experience, it shows that we might need to consider where to add or avoid friction in these emergent spaces, just as much as we do in traditional digital or physical experiences.

For a long time now, brands’ digital strategies have pursued seamlessness and sought to remove friction points wherever possible: from tap to pay services to automated shopping experiments, where you just pick up what you need and leave. The easier you make something to use, the more attractive it is, right? But adding a little friction and feedback is not something that should slow us down or put off new consumers; it’s a way of making sure they have clear messaging and experiential matches that make sense so that they feel comfortable and hopefully grow fond of the brands they use.

Think of Amazon’s now defunct Dash buttons. This system lets shoppers place a Colgate-branded dongle, for example, in the bathroom cabinet and simply click a button when it is time to buy more toothpaste. It was an ingenious, super convenient solution to a common problem – so why didn’t they take off? One problem is that the Dash experience was too frictionless. It created uncertainty because the only way to know for sure that your order had been received was to check your email.

Amazon dash buttons - Future Platforms

Which is why we talk a lot about creating positive friction – a step in the customer journey which isn’t necessary from a functional point of view but is important in an emotional sense, making a customer feel safer, calmer or more engaged. To get these right, it’s important to think of the state of mind a customer has when they’re engaging with your brand.

Read a few online food delivery reviews and you’ll quickly understand that people are rarely more prone to disappointment and rage than when their dinner turns up late, contains the wrong items – or never comes at all. Using this insight, we worked with Domino’s Pizza to take data which was already built into the back-end of the ordering/delivery journey and share it at key moments with customers to reassure them that their order hasn’t been forgotten or taken on an hourlong journey when the store is half a mile away.

I recently had a good experience that involved good friction even though the outcome was not what I initially wanted. I was in a phone queue for a show at the Almeida theatre which was very popular. While on hold I was informed, sadly, that the number of people in the queue exceeded the number of tickets available. This is too bad, but I felt better because I knew what was happening rather than languishing on hold, never knowing if I might get a ticket or just cut off at some point.

Payments are another great example. When you need to pay for your coffee and croissant, you just want instant confirmation that the transaction has happened. If you’re giving someone money for a birthday gift, being able to add a personal touch to the transaction is a nice extra.

Big transactions fundamentally require the same back-end functions as small ones – but as anyone who’s set up a new mortgage or requested an overdraft which isn’t pre-approved knows, a little assurance about the process goes a long way. After all, if Domino’s lets you know where your £25 pizza order is at each stage of the process without you checking or refreshing, couldn’t the same apply for your £350,000 home loan?

By designing with people’s emotional states in mind you create products people ultimately come back to as it makes them engage more with your brand.

An emotional connection takes brand services from functional to engaging, and according to Deloitte, 90% of us are more likely to stay loyal, 88% would spend more and 91% advocate for a brand that we have a positive emotional connection with.

The right level of friction is what you need when you’re designing an experience and when done right this can make it memorable. If this wasn’t the case then all apps and digital experiences would follow exactly the same functions but run with a different name on the screen.

Web3 is still emerging in so many different forms and each of these may benefit from an appropriate amount of well-placed friction. Hopefully, if this is the case, we can all enjoy this new space with a clear idea of what may happen and without disrupting other services along the way.

Earlier this month, Yuga Labs – the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club – disrupted the entire Ethereum blockchain as its users flooded in to buy NFTs representing virtual plots of land in its planned metaverse space, Otherside. It was surprising that what you might think is a small number of the world population would be buying this virtual land, but that would still be enough people to interrupt a blockchain – something we’re told is very stable and secure.

I am optimistic about the possibilities of the metaverse and Web3 but looking at this experience, it shows that we might need to consider where to add or avoid friction in these emergent spaces, just as much as we do in traditional digital or physical experiences.

For a long time now, brands’ digital strategies have pursued seamlessness and sought to remove friction points wherever possible: from tap to pay services to automated shopping experiments, where you just pick up what you need and leave. The easier you make something to use, the more attractive it is, right? But adding a little friction and feedback is not something that should slow us down or put off new consumers; it’s a way of making sure they have clear messaging and experiential matches that make sense so that they feel comfortable and hopefully grow fond of the brands they use.

Think of Amazon’s now defunct Dash buttons. This system lets shoppers place a Colgate-branded dongle, for example, in the bathroom cabinet and simply click a button when it is time to buy more toothpaste. It was an ingenious, super convenient solution to a common problem – so why didn’t they take off? One problem is that the Dash experience was too frictionless. It created uncertainty because the only way to know for sure that your order had been received was to check your email.

Amazon dash buttons - Future Platforms

Which is why we talk a lot about creating positive friction – a step in the customer journey which isn’t necessary from a functional point of view but is important in an emotional sense, making a customer feel safer, calmer or more engaged. To get these right, it’s important to think of the state of mind a customer has when they’re engaging with your brand.

Read a few online food delivery reviews and you’ll quickly understand that people are rarely more prone to disappointment and rage than when their dinner turns up late, contains the wrong items – or never comes at all. Using this insight, we worked with Domino’s Pizza to take data which was already built into the back-end of the ordering/delivery journey and share it at key moments with customers to reassure them that their order hasn’t been forgotten or taken on an hourlong journey when the store is half a mile away.

I recently had a good experience that involved good friction even though the outcome was not what I initially wanted. I was in a phone queue for a show at the Almeida theatre which was very popular. While on hold I was informed, sadly, that the number of people in the queue exceeded the number of tickets available. This is too bad, but I felt better because I knew what was happening rather than languishing on hold, never knowing if I might get a ticket or just cut off at some point.

Payments are another great example. When you need to pay for your coffee and croissant, you just want instant confirmation that the transaction has happened. If you’re giving someone money for a birthday gift, being able to add a personal touch to the transaction is a nice extra.

Big transactions fundamentally require the same back-end functions as small ones – but as anyone who’s set up a new mortgage or requested an overdraft which isn’t pre-approved knows, a little assurance about the process goes a long way. After all, if Domino’s lets you know where your £25 pizza order is at each stage of the process without you checking or refreshing, couldn’t the same apply for your £350,000 home loan?

By designing with people’s emotional states in mind you create products people ultimately come back to as it makes them engage more with your brand.

An emotional connection takes brand services from functional to engaging, and according to Deloitte, 90% of us are more likely to stay loyal, 88% would spend more and 91% advocate for a brand that we have a positive emotional connection with.

The right level of friction is what you need when you’re designing an experience and when done right this can make it memorable. If this wasn’t the case then all apps and digital experiences would follow exactly the same functions but run with a different name on the screen.

Web3 is still emerging in so many different forms and each of these may benefit from an appropriate amount of well-placed friction. Hopefully, if this is the case, we can all enjoy this new space with a clear idea of what may happen and without disrupting other services along the way.

How your brand values can make you distinct with examples from HSBC, Monzo, and Cleo - Future Platforms

All these apps focus on providing users with a way to manage their money. HSBC promises that it’s the world’s local bank but there is nothing in its core banking app that suggests this. Monzo makes banking easy but its services have now been copied by the likes of Revolut and Starling, meaning it no longer has a point of differentiation. While Cleo, which vows to manage finances in an easy and fun way, does not only live up to its brand promise, it also offers a unique selling point.

Cleo is very suitable for its audience, allowing Gen Z to manage their money in a particular way, using chatbots and language centred around roasting. The features are right for the brand and tone-of-voice, and this is a very powerful way to bring the experience to life.

2. Building emotional connections

Building positive emotions with those that use your product and interact with your brand has shown many benefits. According to Deloitte, 90% of us are more likely to stay loyal, 88% would spend more and 91% advocate for a brand that we have a positive emotional connection with.

Designing for the emotional states people are in when they’re engaging with your product is key.

As customers and communities adapt their everyday lives, we need to understand their needs and behaviours – but what about understanding their emotions? This vital design dimension is often ignored and yet, as designers, we are ultimately responsible for connecting with people by making them feel!    Many brands don’t consider the emotions that people have when they’re using it, or think about feelings merging together.

As humans, we are multi-layered and complex. Showing how emotion can overlay - Future Platforms

Brands usually reserve emotion for marketing strategies, but the experiences you create should consider how your brand designs those relationships into digital products, which are traditionally more functional.

For example, people that use your product to order food while in a hurry will shop very differently than those who have time and/or have particular dietary needs. Your product should consider all states of emotion people can be in.

3. Balancing friction

For a long time we’ve loved the idea of being frictionless – pick up what you need and leave the store or end a task with as few steps as possible. But little is said about how friction introduced at the right time is a good thing.

Positive friction can help us to feel assured and safe about a process, make waiting times feel shorter, and prevent you from making a mistake.

Something that gives us time to trust and connect with a brand will be more valuable than something that only provides uncertainty.

For example, placing an order, hitting a button, and not getting a confirmation message – this is a bad frictionless experience as you don’t know if the order was placed successfully. But disrupting a task to add clarity, such as Google asking about your attachment when you forget one but mention the word “attached” in an email, gives users a lot more confidence about their actions.

4. Defining the core functionality

Products that stick, create habits, and exceed expectations do so by answering new questions. When you look at the core of some great digital products, it’s easy to understand. They each found a new question to answer and addressed this through an elegant solution as shown below.

Products that stick by answering new questions - Future Platforms

We’ve identified 5 traits to help brands create those experiences:

  1. Easy to execute
  2. Break down barriers
  3. Create the context
  4. Find the moment
  5. Build the reps

We’ve previously discussed this in-depth in our webinar, Digital Products that Stick, which you can now watch on-demand.

Key takeaways

When you’re designing memorable digital experiences for your customers for brand loyalty and stand out appeal, you need branding, emotional touchpoints, and friction at the right moment.

By balancing both utility and differentiation, you can create long lasting engagement that creates high brand affinity.

To form distinctive interactions:

  1. Highlight your brand values in your digital experiences.
  2. Create emotional connections for users interacting with your product.
  3. Include positive friction where needed.
  4. Answer questions asked by your audience and solve these in a way that fits your brand.

This elevates your brand from another faceless service that could be found anywhere else, to one that customers trust, return to and even advocate for because they remember it. To find out how to bring this altogether for your brand, get in touch with our team today.