I had a picture of you in my mind…..

…..Never knew it could be so wrong.

Part 5 of my series on Michael Bolton‘s (F)EW HICCUPPS mnemonic.

Image. We expect the system to be consistent with an image that the organisation wants to project, with its brand, or with its reputation.

What’s in a brand? What are the common threads that big brands have? How are they important?


I use Microsoft Office 2016 – while it’s not Lotus Suite, it does a job – a feature of which, allows you to choose a background and a theme. If you change the theme in Word, the change will be reflected in Excel, Outlook and friends. This is a subtle way to reinforce a commonality between the various Office tools.

In 2007, Peter, 9, from Cambridge, asked Matt Groening (via CBBC of all places – what a fine reference for you all) why The Simpsons are yellow, to which he answered:

They’re yellow because when it was time to pick the colour for the cartoon I didn’t want the conventional cartoon colours.

An animator came up with the Simpsons’ yellow and as soon as she showed it to me I said: ‘This is the answer!’ because when you’re flicking through channels with your remote control, and a flash of yellow goes by, you’ll know you’re watching The Simpsons. 

Ref: http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_6260000/newsid_6262500/6262584.stm


The example of Microsoft Office shows the desire of Microsoft to tie-in their products into a common image. While Matt Groening’s animator’s rationale, to push for a USP, a way of differentiating their product from the competition is something that can achieve such incredible brand recognition.

Cartoons with yellow characters will lead you to think of The Simpsons. Any software with the same background and theme as Word or PowerPoint, will subliminally lead you to recognise it as a Microsoft Office product.

The power of branding is huge, to the point where board games and apps exist, based solely on brand recognition.


Interfacing with software can sometimes be very intuitive, recognition and comfort are important aspects of this, and as testers we have a responsibility to advocate for that experience.

Your company may have a corporate colour scheme, jingle (hello Intel – get out of my head), typeface or even ethical stance.

An expectation therefore would be that anything contradicting those threads would be jarring and could confuse a customer, or lead them to believe that your company doesn’t understand its own brand.

There’s a lot to be considered when establishing a brand, even more so perhaps with a rebrand – or a limited edition rebrand.

As testers, our eyes and our experience using our products can be invaluable to the success of these things, our voice is needed.

Cue (Queue?) the out of context branding:


Blog post title lyrics from: Picture of you – by Boyzone.

Find all the songs from my blog posts at this Spotify playlist.


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