SMPL Q&A is a blog feature in which we interview experts on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. In this Q&A, we speak with Jenna Isken, strategist, about the value of a strategic digital brand experience.

What challenges do you face when executing a mobile-first digital branding strategy?

The biggest challenge with a mobile-first digital branding strategy is that, although the term feels outdated, its underlying logic is not. Those using a mobile-first approach to digital branding were the first to design websites around the way people engage with them. While new technologies have made the term “mobile-first” feel antiquated (today there are other points of entry such as watches, apps and tablets), the underlying theory behind the strategy—designing with an eye to user experience—is more relevant than ever.

Is it best to start with a responsive website or app?

It’s important to start with a customer experience map. When a user comes to your site, what’s going on around them, what device they’re using and the information they seek affect their interaction with your site and their feeling about the experience. Thinking first about how users interact with your brand digitally will help you design a brand experience strategy that incorporates the right information with the right time and delivery method.

How can brand be a tool for this approach?

Brand is a lens through which to understand the user experience and determine where you can be most impactful. The digital world can feel ominous, and it’s easy to get lost if your approach to technology is to keep up with the Joneses. For example, Southwest tracked their users’ digital customer journey from desktop to phone and designed their digital brand experience around what each audience needs at each touchpoint, while delivering on their brand purpose: “To connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.” As part of its digital branding strategy, Southwest reorganized the information and calls to action among the desktop, phone and app to better meet these different needs. Log on to the desktop, and special offers are highlighted. Open the same site on your phone, and access to check-in and flight status are readily available. Finding where user needs overlap with your brand can add significant value and help determine where to focus—from brand strategy to technology to design.

 Jenna Isken is a digital branding strategist at Siegel+Gale. Follow Jenna on Twitter: @jennaisken