brand and you
IA and Brand are not enemies, they should be in bed together. David Aaker’s terrific book, Building Strong Brands points to the simple fact that your brand is hurt or helped by the user’s experience with your product (this should be a duh.) His chapter on Saturn starts out “THE MISSION: A WORLD-CLASS PRODUCT” not, “advertise on major networks or yahoo”, not “get the best ad agencies to make commercials”, but rather “build the best user experience” and *then* sell it.
IA can be driven by brand. In early discovery sessions, the IA should be understanding the desired marketing message — is it simple? sophisticated? easy? classy?– and then designing systems that reinforce these brand qualities… reveal a million features to reinforce “powerful” or hide them to reinforce “simple” for example. Just as much as any graphic designer, the IA will help or hurt the brand.
This means IA’s need to go talk to the VP of marketing (or CEO, or…), and the VP needs to talk to them. In the past the two groups may have eyed each other with suspicion, but it’s time to put those differences aside and concentrating on crafting the next Saturn.