• Nikolaj Kjærgaard
4. term, Experience Design, Master (Master Programme)
The focus of this MA-thesis is branding of playlists in digital music streaming services through experience design. The objective of the thesis is to analyse and understand branding of a playlist-brand, and the relations to, and potentials of, experience design in the branding process of such a brand. Present studies have discovered how the recording business has evolved its distributions and sales into digital forms, and how this has changed consumer behaviour and new ways of marketing and promoting music on digital streaming platforms – for instance branded musical experiences in playlists. But no study has been made on the matter of understanding, which role the field of experience design can potentially take in the branding of playlists.
The motivation of this thesis’ research arose when encountering the three playlist brands, Topsify, Digster, and Filtr, as the brands and their services are seemingly poorly differentiated from a consumer’s point-of-view. Thus, the motivation is rooted in the purpose of discovering whether experience design can improve a brand offering a service in a digital context. The methodological research design is a case study with a textual perspective on the case, Topsify. The case study involves a market contextualisation leading to a semiotic brand analysis of selected media texts, and a theoretical experience design analysis of the findings of the brand analysis. The media texts analysed include Topsify’s profiles on Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, and their web page – the four primary texts of Topsify’s branding practices. The time frame of the empirical material collected is week 13 of 2016 – a synchronic empirical analysis
The market contextualisation places Topsify in the music recording industry as a playlist brand on streaming platforms, with the competitors, Spotify (itself), Digster, Filtr, and radio stations. Topsify is curated by humans (Topsify’s team) as opposed to algorithmic curation and user curation. The brand analysis results in a characterisation of Topsify practicing human curation centred on playlists containing moods and feelings, and chart lists – with a brand belief of providing users with good musical experiences and inspiration. Topsify’s brand is characterised by the human team behind the brand practicing communication showing human-like personality. The findings of the experience design analysis result in experience design potentially contributing to Topsify’s service and branding, by potentially creating a closer, more involving relation between Topsify and the user. It is argued that a consequence of an experience design may result in a re-branding of Topsify, as it will change basic elements of Topsify’s concept – human team curation with no user influence – and thereby change brand image. The selected textual perspective and deselection of other perspectives and empirical material is discussed, putting the research and its findings into a product development perspective.
The research contributes to the understanding of the relation between experience design and branding. It is concluded that experience design may potentially play an improving role in the branding process of a playlist brand, but with implications of a re-branding aspect as a consequence. It also contributes to the understanding of the role of brand analysis in a product development process (of an experience design), being a significant part of the research phase, before the design phase, when working with and designing around a brand. It is argued that user perspective and client perspective are relevant in the design phase after analysing the semiotic meaning potentials of the given media texts in the research phase. Especially user perspective is important in the design phase, as insight and understanding of the user’s perspective and knowledge of the given context and media texts are vital to the design of a meaningful experience.
The methodological research design of the thesis is furthermore a contribution to the field, branded playlist experiences, being a relatively generalizable practical framework for analysing brands and the potential of experience design in this context.
Publication date31 May 2016
Number of pages79
ID: 234436483