When the interaction is unique, your users can begin to associate that interaction with your product. If you can own an interaction, that’s a very strong level of branding in today’s interface-filled world.
— Matthew Moore (2013) Branded Interactions
This is a very interesting point. Creating a brand for a long time has been associated with the purely visual part of the customer experience. Then decades ago it started to extend to different channels and media. Now we are adding another piece, but it’s just the beginning.
Matthew in his beautiful article was able to get the elements that are making this other piece of branding: branded interactions.
Building a branded interaction is difficult, because you have to find a specific pattern that combines different cues: visual, motion, interaction, audio. And all in a small moment, something that often lasts less than a second. It’s a very unique kind of microinteraction, using Dan Saffer’s label.
This kind of interaction need to exists on the same basis of a good logo design: it must be unique, relevant, memorable, and must leave the user with a sense of pleasure (or well, a brand-reinforcing emotion).
There’s one branded interaction that is strong and widely known, and that’s the “like” button. Yes, the like is also part of the brand, as an icon. But the Facebook “like” is an action. It’s the whole package. It’s the visual plus the interaction. Very simple, but very effective. That’s why Facebook today is more represented by the like icon than its own logo.
It’s also important to notice that there should be only one branded interaction in each product, because well… too many of them lose uniqueness, and distinctiveness is important between competitors but also inside the application itself. It needs to be a moment of a “peak”, something clearly different.
I’m not entirely sure that all the cases listed by Matthew in the article are branded interactions. For example Sunrise’s arrow isn’t that unique, it’s more of a wonderful detail than a meaningful interaction, but they might evolve it to be like that in the future.