There are many ways best practices in UX can be defined down to a prescribed list. It makes for a great way to save money: write down a checklist of best practices into a pattern library and go over the list every time you are reviewing a new design. Don’t get me wrong, having a pattern libraries and style guides will save companies millions in consistency across all their products be they external or internal sites. Checklists and scorecards are also probably one of the easiest ways to save time and money when consulting on applications. However, do not rely on them as the only authority for your deliverables or the designs to come across as bland mush.This used to work ten years ago when all it took for an application to be noticed as stellar software was to follow best practices and create usable software but as the UX profession has matured there are now enough skilled people involved with designing interfaces the right way it has become the expected behavior. The tide has turned enough that software now sticks out like a sore thumb when it is hard to use. Following best practices will earn you a spot in the middle of the pack. The problem being most companies are not happy with their app as “not terrible”.To get the edge the user experience must be tailored to the company’s brand. Knowing what aspects are important to stress from any specific brand are probably better known by the marketing department more than anything I could write here. But, it is yet another reason to work with the marketing department to create the best user experience end to end. If this is an internal application or you are working for a small enough company where you are also the marketing department then creating a brand for the application should be one of the deliverables (A “Branding Assessment” deliverable example is available in my UX Portfolio). Information gathered during the user interviews and any competitive analysis done will tell you what mood users are expecting from your application.The best example of a the UX not matching the brand of the tool is Clippy. It was an avatar that tried to keep it light by telling jokes along with the help it gave while using Microsoft Word. The problem was the brand for Microsoft Word is much more corporate. Making jokes when users didn’t expect created dissonance which led to anger at the unexpected behavior. It might seem like an avatar joking around is always a bad idea to use when people are trying to get work done. But as an example of an avatar matching the brand, Freddie the avatar for mailchimp has created such a following they share him as one of their brand assets. (http://mailchimp.com/about/brand-assets/) Jokes or wacky interface quirks paired with the right brand can increase user’s interest or desire to explore in the application if it what they are expecting.