Brand As Interface

Amidst all the talk of storytelling, inspiration, big ideas, and leadership, it was refreshing to blunder into a masterclass that focused on craft. Chloe Gottlieb, Executive Creative Director at RG/A, is an experience designer, and she told a robust crowd to think of brands in terms of the interface between a product or service and the consumer. These days, that interface often involves a screen.


Brands, of course, used to be signifiers sent out into culture non-responsively. Now, they are part of a multilateral symbiotic relationship with consumers and culture. The interface, Gottlieb told the crowd, is the home of that exchange. “Good interfaces help brands become more connected to their consumers. They help brands becomes more useful, which is a word you haven’t heard much this week,” Gottlieb asserted.

So true. Despite being in a sub-surface, low ceilinged part of the festival hall, in an alcove without windows, I felt a distinct breath of fresh air.


Since brand, according to Gottlieb, is “a shared relationship between the company and its customers, identity should be the functional interface between them.” Brands are delivery mechanisms for products or services, she says, so “brand identity is function.” Or, at least that’s the perspective of this very well-regarded experience designer.

So how does that play out? For her at RG/A, it’s a continuum from Think to Make with four steps along the way: Is the interface true to the brand? Is it relevant to and needed by the consumer? Is it interesting and will it stand out? Is it clear, legible, and useful? The answers to those questions will guide the creation of a good interface.

Interface, Gottlieb concluded, is particularly important for you brand for another reason as well: service transference. In other words, your brand is being compared to the best brands out there today—brands like Uber who, despite earning the ire of the striking taxi drivers clogging up Cannes today—ranks as one of the best designed services available today. No matter what business you are in, interfaces like that are your real competitors.

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