Breaking it down, “Brand” is a name and or a symbol, its objective is to define who or what you are in a clear and recognizable manner, it also expresses your values, ethos, vision, positioning, promise, industry, means for differentiation and more. “Experience” simply refers to the process in which we perceive our environment.
Brand experience encompasses all the feelings, judgments, state of mind, and reactions an individual may exhibit in response to experiencing your brand. Brand Experience doesn’t fit within any specific category, channel, or medium. It refers to the overall result or lasting impression made before, during, and after a person encounters or engages with your brand.
"A smart business determines strategies to shape those impressions, those feelings, and how people might indeed react."
Brand experience vs. user experience
Brand experience encapsulates a broad notion, while User Experience is simply a part of the overall brand experience, it refers to specific actions taken or explored during the process of using a service, product, or brand with an objective perspective, and does not necessarily refer much to how an individual feels towards the brand itself, except to say you still want to create a positive experience. Take Intel’s Core i7 9th Generation processing chip, most people would agree they are indeed fast, which goes towards producing a positive experience in terms of delivering a speedy, efficient process, which then, in turn, creates a positive brand experience overall whilst using a product. For example, a high-performance ROG laptop is more likely to be perceived as ‘awesome’ when compared to something how to say, less inspiring, i.e., lacking an Intel Core i7 9th generation processing chip. Much of this refers to an expectation and experience as derived by clever brand methodologies.
A fair portion of developing brand experience is delivering a memorable ‘user experience’ that is aligned to a customer’s brand experience.
Many famous brands focus a significant level of effort towards building a positive brand experience. Nike or Apple are obvious examples. In the way they provide a unique and easily recognizable brand experience, just look at their retail stores, the way they package their products, communicate, advertise, visualize their digital platforms, provide seemingly top-quality products, and how they interact and engage with their customers (Apple is typically pretty bad when it comes to customer service apparently). All of these touchpoints are aspects that define Brand Experience.
Managing Brand Experience
Due to the broad scope of the concept, it requires a fairly unique team to ensure all multidisciplinary aspects are aligned in terms of maintaining your overall brand image, it requires efficient management and an ability to communicate efficiently.
A problem that often arises is when people involved with outlining Brand Experience, do not have a broad understanding of the varying nuances one is required to have when conceptualizing and or implementing a form of Brand Experience. For example, you may not expect an interior designer to fully grasp the nuances of App UX design and vice versa. This implies you need people who know your brand, customers, the ins and outs of design, and building positive experience across the board.
Successful Brand Experience
Over the last few decades, the internet has transformed the way we interact with brands significantly, especially nowadays during the Covid-19 global pandemic. Our connection with the brands we use on a day to day, the brands we love, has become much more multifaceted than ever before.
Typically, our only contact with most brands besides entering retail stores associated was via 1-way mediums such as print, radio, or television, and of course experiencing the final touchpoint, the product itself.
Nowadays we view, interact, engage and communicate with brands in such a way that if someone suggested we could do this a couple of decades ago, they’d have been laughed at. We are currently in an age where we experience things like dynamic ads that are catered to you personally or catered towards specific audiences via various online destinations, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, and the plethora of sites selling space for sponsored ads and so on. Brands nowadays harness social media with a huge emphasis, they bombard us with advertising every which way we turn. In our apps, our news sites, email, YouTube videos, online stores, and so on. It has never really been this easy for small and or large businesses to target the right audiences and to advertise to meet a wide range of objectives somewhat affordably.
Successful brands ensure that all touchpoints are branded consistently, in a way that projects a consistent Brand Image, such as:
- Providing consistency related to Brand Identity and Design
- Aspects related to copy, communication, brand context, tone, and voice
- Developing a streamlined and positive User experience
- Projecting positive, consistent, influential, trustworthy Brand image
- Providing concise Brand Communications via polite, professional customer support
All of these elements become significant parts of a whole concerning building Brand Experience.
6 Steps to Creating an Excellent Brand Experience
By placing a significant focus on emphasizing Brand Experience, can often lead to generating a powerful and memorable brand. Additionally, it can inspire Brand loyalty and as such, influence previous buyers to become repeat customers. Most successful and global brands go to great lengths to connect with customers and to provide in some way or another, an aspirational experience, one that strives to generate a series of positive emotions to stir action and progress.
One store that comes to mind is how Hard Rock Café exemplifies the mantra that music performance and music memorabilia is the lifeblood of their organization, they depict this in a unified, consistent manner, one that is easily recognizable all over the world. They understood the necessity to incorporate branding into their exterior and interior design. They specifically set to craft the exact feelings and perceptions you felt the moment you stepped into their restaurant. What’s more, they also offer a mean steak sandwich.
Other examples could include media services such as Netflix, HBO, do you think of specific shows or films, or do you think more of the type of content, quality these sources are well known to provide.
What’s more, the ease and affordability with which they provide these services, specifically for Netflix online streamers. They provide affordable, high-quality content, all in the comfort of their home.
These two companies kept us entertained by constantly delivering new and engaging content. Netflix understands their audience, they decided to take on the ‘Big Boys’ in Hollywood and the Pirate superpowers (Pirate Bay) they lowered the price of their service dramatically and chose to provide customers with top-notch quality in terms of actual footage resolution, and context. Hollywood has only just begun to comprehend this phenomenon and has realized they no longer rule the film industry. Their form of business is no longer sustainable. And as such, we all need to be constantly aware of existing social phenomena and determine who we are, how we can attract or connect with a certain audience and maintain relevance.
The two previous examples attempt to illustrate that Brand Experience relates to many facets concerning how people engage with your brand, from the business card to an exterior facade of your office building to the jingle of your company to the taste of your coffee.
Create positive and lasting impressions
Determine your objective, if you haven’t already, considering looking into conducting Brand Research.
Brand research contributes to the creation and curation of strong, distinctive brands, and in the case of Brand Experience, we want to know who your brand is, and what kind of Personality does it project.
Defining who you are will set the tone for the type of experience you want to create. In an oversaturated market, products that are connected to a bigger purpose can stand out from the crowd—the purpose often has more value than the product itself.
Think Apple, they don’t just sell digital devices. They sell lifestyle, creativity, liberty, innovation, passion, hopes, intelligence, liberalism, dreams, and aspirations. And of course, providing power to the people through technology.
And as such, they reflect this attitude across all experiential touchpoints by the use of a clean and consistent marketing approach, that also transfers across their ads, stores, events, and packaging.
The Origin of your Origin
Some of the most powerful brands are those that share tales of their Origin.
Think KFC, Nike, Amazon, Disney, where they started from nothing to become multibillion-dollar corporations.
Depending on your deliverables. People want to know your story, how you came to be, and how you are taking action towards change.
Sharing your brand’s story encourages continuity, fosters curiosity, and suggests a living, growing entity rather than a static product that solely exists to make money.
Storytelling can urge audiences to view your world (brand), providing them with the incentive to view and discover new perspectives, showing them the big picture of who you are and how they relate.
This can be achieved through things like YouTube videos, blogs, articles, and interacting with your audience via social media.
Brands have an amazing capacity to inspire when their tale is universally appealing. The trick is to be authentic, people in this day and age can usually smell a falsehood, and given motivation someone (competitor?) may even go as far as seeking to fact check your ‘tale’.
Many major brands over the years have been caught being how to say, dishonest. For example, Samsung and Huawei were recently busted for lying about their smartphone cameras, claiming photographs a series of images were taken by their phone camera but were in fact using a high-quality DSLR camera. While they can probably withstand criticism due to their formidably-sized wallet, they also produce many other products. The point being, do not lie.
Reliability and Consistency
It is imperative to maintain consistency across all platforms when producing any form of brand communication or form of customer experience. Inconsistency can produce negative perceptions, and thus damage your brand image and in turn, the experience your customer has with your business, brands, products, and services.
Building a consistent Brand Identity is probably one of the more important aspects of managing a successful brand. All associated assets must be sorted and follow a brand guideline to ensure visual consistency is implemented across the board. Otherwise, you fall into the unprofessional category, and end up as that brand that failed because it didn’t inspire trust.
Elements typically found in a brand identity or communications guideline typically includes all rules related to how you should implement your brand identity, your color palette, your fonts, and varying typographical styles, photography direction, interior and external design, voice tone, personality, language, keywords, script, social media layout and so much more.
Planning how to EngageExperience, requires engagement, preferably an activity that affects all the senses. The prime objective for your brand is to create positive situations where your audience can experience your brand in ways that inspire them to share their experience with others, be it via online reviews, or literally.
This is where you need to prepare all visual, audible, and accessible elements, such as your brand identity, graphic design elements, architectural, interior, building facade, office signage, product packaging, staff customer service, uniforms, jingles, videos, podcasts, websites, and social media in a way that reflects your brand consistently across the board.
Conduct activities that meet the needs or your ROI, know the goals you are trying to achieve from each ‘experience’, consider the challenges you might face when implementing your experiential campaign, conduct research, think, learn, discern what works for you and your audience and then finally, find the right partners and or vendors to facilitate your plan of attack.
And so, providing the most amazing experience for your customer is not something that just occurs by accident, the best results are formed by careful planning and via insight.
Emphasis toward experience over sales
The three-stage model of service consumption contains pre-purchase, service encounter, and post-service stage. Which refers to the experience customers experience before, during, and after. And as such need’s consideration.
Customers generally recall how simple and enjoyable their experience was before, during, and after they purchased something. Especially if it was negative. Ensuring these associations are kept positive, is one of the topmost important aspects of any business.
Take a hardware store like Ace Hardware. Are their products easy to find?
Does your website have many irritating pop-ups, or take forever to load?
Do your fashionable t-shirts survive a second wash?
We could spend all day giving examples, the point is, does your Brand Experience provide a positive feeling, or is it irritating?
Generating bad impressions can be the scourge of any brand. Be sure to discover what set you back and change it, and if necessary, address it with your audience.
Adapt & Evolve
Much of the way we conduct business these days is done online. More so during the last year and a half. How consumers gather their products and services, search and pursue information and new experiences is continuously shifting. Additionally, consumers are now using their voices to share their opinions via globally accessible product reviews, which has dramatically influenced how businesses have been forced to adjust.
Social media has almost become too powerful. It’s continually changing society on levels we are still coming to grips with, and not all of it is positive. But whatever the situation, businesses must continue to adapt.
Adaptability and flexibility require an active decision to keep up with the times. Which includes things like conducting research, following customer feedback, being aware of popular culture and potential trends.
Start Creating Meaningful Experiences
Brand Experience is much like a mutual relationship between your customer and your business, brand, products, and services. Once you have conducted gained insight towards all aspects that reflect who and what your brand represents, about and how it should optimally target your audience, start generating and sharing content, cultivate an active community, and get them engaged with your brand story, lead them as they experience the world of your brand.