Crafting an Engaging and Persuasive Digital Brand Presence in a Perpetually Changing Field

We asked QUO Digital Director, Brian Anderson, about the ever-changing environment of digital expression and its significance for brands in creating an effective digital experience.

Last Updated


QUO: How have consumers’ attitudes changed towards the digital expression of a hospitality company, and why do you think that is?

BA: The consumer expectations of digital experiences, whether hospitality or otherwise, have evolved radically over the past two decades. With so much time spent online, browsing, researching and consuming media, the digital experience is now perceived as a central factor in the credibility and desirability of your brand or product. That is, it must be accurate, functional, inviting and mirror the brand values the consumer expects to engage with.

The impact of a subpar experience, or one in which the expression is not a coherent reflection of your brand, or in which the user experience has not been considered, is concrete and highly detrimental to brand credibility and perception, as shown through many studies since the late 90s. Hotel websites and other transactional-style business websites and apps, take this to the next level. They offer direct bookings and active customer service, emphasising both direct revenue and guests’ operational requirements. It has never been more important to ensure the digital channels through which your guests research, book and seek support, are considered core business assets.

QUO: How does the team ensure the essence of the brand is brought to life through the digital platform?

BA: We’re fortunate and fairly distinct within the digital design space as we work within the context of a strategic branding agency. Our digital team is integrated into the brand identity and expression creative process. This makes us well situated to gain a comprehensive conceptual and visual understanding of the brand. Indeed, our visual identity services, when formulating new or adapted brands, now include digital expression components by default. Client typography, colour use, logo alternates, graphic devices etc, are all developed in this integrated way, for online and offline use.

However, when the UI (User Interface) design process begins we need to balance many different needs: A website is almost always a business tool, designed to drive active marketing objectives with both tactical and strategic results. Business objectives then become primary, so the digital design challenge is to blend these objectives with clear expression of the brand – visually and interactively – across design, functionality, image selection, layout, copy production, UI and interactivity, as well as the many technical components to ensure a website is usable, accessible and popular to the target audience.

QUO: What are the biggest challenges with coordinating complex digital projects?

BA: The UI design and technical work is actually the most straightforward part of the project. The most challenging aspect is clearly identifying the competing needs, preferences and opinions of the client, both at the outset and during the design process. This is most apparent where a client has relatively little digital experience, or where there is a flat hierarchy and multiple executive stakeholders. In such cases, the challenge becomes balancing competing opinions and preferences and ensuring clarity of understanding.

QUO: QUO has developed the digital assets for both newly created brands as well as established iconic brands. Is there a difference in how you approach these?

BA: Very much, yes. New brands have an openness to possibility as a result of being fresh and new. It becomes a highly creative process that tends to have more experimentation than with established brands, which tend to be more focused around articulation, reconfiguration and reimagination.

In general, the digital work we do for new brands goes hand-in-hand with the brand identity creation so we benefit from an environment where this brand creation and its digital expression can go forwards simultaneously, under the same integrated team. Established brands are more challenging as the refreshing of the brand user experience is more subtle. The re-invention – whether part of an overall brand refresh or an independent revisiting of the overall digital experience – requires a less apparent interpretation of brand value or expression changes. Having said that, the wider the field of creative opportunity, the more challenging to push a design to completion!

“Primarily, know your customer: Who are they, what do they worry about, what frustrates them, what brings them joy, what are the obstacles to happiness and wellness.”

QUO: Is there anything a luxury brand in particular needs to consider when projecting itself to the world? What are the nuances you’ve picked up?

BA: Guest expectations have changed dramatically from the time that luxury was a clear differentiator – an idea that started as a class signifier – then a wealth signifier. Now it is just one of many signifiers for guests seeking experiences that resonate with their lifestyle and experience aspirations. However, it still has a fairly distinct set of visual and UI tokens which convey a sense of luxury and prestige, such as classic mixed typography (serif and sans serif, minimalism with plenty of white space), considered and subtle motion effects, reliance on highly selective image use, etc. Ironically it’s very challenging to effectively design for white space and minimalism within a digital UI. The goal is sophistication, and minimising embellishment, without sacrificing information and communication.

However, as noted above, pure classic minimalist luxury design is less common now as the design is enhanced with experiential components, with selective colour use, graphic devices and UI innovation designed to reflect the many other factors which define and differentiate modern luxury brands.

QUO: Wellness is a growing area. How do you capture such an encompassing, sensorial experience in a digital context?

BA: The digital experience of a wellness brand should follow all of the fundamental principles of good experience design within any vertical. Primarily, know your customer: Who are they, what do they worry about, what frustrates them, what brings them joy, what are the obstacles to happiness and wellness. By researching these core ideas and building a picture of what your target customers actually want, you are in a position to design an experience which gives them the inspiration and confidence they require to engage and commit to your services. This is the basis of all effective digital experiences – ask the customer. From there we model and test, model and test, to get the best website communication and conversion architecture, then we wrap that in an iteration of the brand identity which is designed wholly around digital needs, undeniably your brand, but extended into an interactive experience. In this respect, the process is the same, though the audience needs and goals, and your brand identity itself, will always be different, so the outcome will always be bold yet relevant.

QUO: If a hotel business doesn’t have the budget for a bells-and-whistles revamp of all their digital platforms, what are some of the quick wins, areas of improvement they could focus on?

BA: Given a hotel website is almost always a critical part of revenue generation through direct bookings, any interim revamp project should focus on usability and CRO (conversion rate optimisation), as well as any other subtle realignment with brand changes and evolutions. Usability audits which focus on maximising the conversion rate of your website will focus on readability, accessibility, CTA (Call To Action) positioning and the overall user experience, ensuring there are as few obstacles as possible to decision making information and the page elements to drive the enquiries or bookings. Brands evolve, and it’s important to ensure the alignment is clear between the guest experience off-site and the expectations set through the website content and visual experience.


Everything we do begins with a conversation.
This is a good place to start.