Author Archive for: Ann-Christin Lindstedt

It’s the moment of truth for your brand experience

23 Jul
23 juli, 2018

Here we are. Our last date in this article series about brand experience strategy. We’ve come to the moment of truth. Literally. Or rather the Moments of Truth. But first, let’s indulge a quick flashback at how far we’ve come.

It all started with our first meeting, when we defined what we wanted from the brand experience – a lifelong relationship, not just a date now and then (it’s THE brand experience rather than AN experience). And we expressed it in a simple and elegant statement: The Brand Experience Infinity Loop.

The infinity loop draws people into your experience and keeps them there. From exploring a need, to discovering solutions, to evaluating your brand, choosing you, using your product, loving you and advocating for you. Over and over again.

It’s this mentality we want in working with THE brand experience. There is no end – only forward movement and continuing relationship involving every part of your organization.

This means we need to find the key moments that build the energy and keep people moving, what we call moments of truth

  • The zero moment of truth – ZMOT – before they even really know what they need and they’re just googling stuff 
  • The first moment of truth, when they choose you over someone else 
  • The second moment, after they’ve chosen and start using your product or working for you 
  • And the third moment, when they talk about it

Shared moments
But what gets really interesting today is exploring shared moments. These are totally reshaping brand experience. Because brands are no longer created; they’re co-created.

“Some say shared experiences are the new search. … Study after study shows that customers trust other customers. They don’t trust executives. They don’t trust ads. They do trust peers.” – Brian Solis

Even total strangers. Just look at unboxing videos …you know where they film themselves opening the newest iPhone box? Millions of people watching some random person open a package. And now that random person’s second moment of truth becomes other people’s zero moment or first moment.

You can’t control these moments. You can influence them. (Design a cooler box.) But better yet, you can use them. Draw them into your brand experience loop purposefully and use their momentum to push people forward. Hack their hacks (you know, like Ikea did with Ikea hacks).

Now, this may mean loosening your vice grip on your brand a little so you can get a better grip for the future. Remember, it’s about brand love, not brand control.

These articles have only been a primer in brand experience and a teaser for what’s to come this fall as we get ready to launch a Brand Experience Strategy offering via Graal Brand Agency. If you’d like to see how far your brand experience can go, connect here or visit us at Graal Brand Agency.

Build a stronger brand relationship by breaking down your walls

22 Jul
22 juli, 2018

So we’re up to our fourth date in this article series about brand experience strategy. Isn’t it about time to break down your walls and get personal in this relationship? If you’re here for a first date, though, you may want to go back and start with the proper introductions when we defined what we wanted out of the brand experience.

Because today, we may need to get into some tough love: dealing with the silos in your organization. The question is are you working with each other or just near each other?

When it comes to the brand experience, people in different silos or departments of a company will give different answers about how to deliver on it, which is often fine because each role has a different part to play in the brand experience. However, what we’ve discovered is that rarely do these different departments talk with each other about the whole brand experience. They’re mostly focused on creating AN experience instead of synching up THE brand experience over time. And supporting agencies, consultancies, suppliers and producers rarely know what all the rest are up to. Actually, even within companies, most departments don’t really see their role in the brand experience or get any meaningful insights, data or strategy for it.

But whether you do or not, your customers will connect the dots. In fact, they don’t even see dots. They see one brand. They don’t distinguish between your customer service and your sales team, your product and your social media presence. An inconsistent or “meh” experience in one area reflects on them all. You cannot expect people to buy what you’re selling when they don’t “buy what you’re selling.”

“X brand’s products are supposed to help us be carefree and happy, but their customer service sounds like the grumpiest place on earth.”

“Yeah, Y brand says they believe diversity is strength, but did you see they just partnered with Z brand, the most male-dominated company in their industry?”

People may not say these things out loud or even think them in words at all, but they do feel them. And as brilliant minds like Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman have proven, we aren’t the rational creatures we like to think we are. We choose with our gut and our emotions first and rationalize afterwards. Even in B2B. We’re all human and we judge companies on how they act all the time, not just how they act in public.

So, together with relevance and gaps, we want to find where in your organization things may be a bit isolated or misaligned – the silos – and then help bring you in sync.

Our team at Graal Brand Agency is exploring how to help companies become more modular than siloed – orchestrating a smart way to share information and cross-pollinate ideas as departments come in at different times depending on needs and stages of the brand experience. We help as a showrunner, keeping the holistic brand experience in sync over time, and ensuring every role is informed, inspired and focused in their part of the experience – allowing them each to shine in their areas of expertise without maverick experiences spinning off into inconsistent brand experience.

This true collaboration also hinges on measuring right. Companies can no longer accept siloed efforts, but that also means companies need to start measuring departmental performance on collaborative efforts and results, not just their own functional performance.

So after defining brand experience, introducing the infinity loop, talking about relevance, looking for gaps and dealing with silos, now we have only one moment left together. And it’s all about sharing special moments. So slip into something comfortable and meet me here again tomorrow.

Mind the gaps for the highest return on brand equity

21 Jul
21 juli, 2018

If you’ve been following along in this article series, we’re now on our third date. This is getting serious. Or maybe for some it’s our first date. Either way, if you need a quick reminder of our dating profile, skim through the previous articles about defining brand experience and making sure yours is relevant.

We’ve covered the foundations for creating a lifelong relationship with customer, employees, investors and everyone important for true brand love. I.e., building up a stronger brand equity. Today, we’re talking about #2 of our four essentials for mapping the brand experience: gaps.

Brand equity is the commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service, rather than from the product or service itself (thanks, Oxford Dictionaries). Getting the highest return on that depends on the seamless experience, because where there are gaps equity leaks out.

As a simple example, let’s say you’re a B2B brand that stands for simplicity. Well, if finding a parking space outside your sales office, figuring out your check-in system, and hooking up my laptop to your conference room WiFi are just complicated, you’ve already lost me on simplicity. Now there’s this subconscious break with your brand experience that you have to work harder to recover from in your next interaction with me.

As we work with the Brand Experience Infinity Loop, we need to be on the lookout for gaps, and realize they can happen anywhere.In fact, one of the less recognized ways companies are leaking brand equity is through internal gaps, like employee happiness, which radiate outward to affect customer experience. Internal gaps are often the first gaps we look for when helping with a company’s brand experience strategy because the customer experience depends on employees embracing and sincerely expressing the core of what their brand stands for. Not to mention that employee happiness and brand love is proven to increase productivity and profitability.

At Graal Brand Agency, we’ve just been part of a success story with a client that recovered from a low point in both results and employee energy – doubling their EBITDA in three years. A revitalization of their brand played an important part, as we focused on the brand experience to energize employees. And let me tell you, the celebration party when they hit their target was pure love. Now, we can’t wait to release their brand experience externally. Here’s just a peek.

And you can check out their brand music on Spotify.

Now, finding gaps in your brand experience is not a failure. Everyone has them. But not everyone is looking for them actively in the right places. So finding gaps is the best kind of opportunity. It gives you an edge because you can work on closing them and strengthening your brand experience over your competitors’.

So now we’re three articles into our relationship: THE brand experience, relevance, and gaps. For our fourth date tomorrow, we’re getting personal and breaking down your silos.

How relevant is your brand experience, really?

20 Jul
20 juli, 2018

If you’ve read my previous article, you know we’re working with a holistic definition for brand experience. We’re treating it like a lifelong relationship rather than just a date now and then (it’s THE brand experience rather than AN experience). That means it’s not just the impression you make in that little black dress you save for special occasions, but it’s also who you turn out to be in everyday reality, sans makeup in rush-hour traffic.

You see, people are demanding more from the relationship today. According to A Great Place to Work, “people are holding the companies in their lives to a higher standard as consumers, investors, and employees. In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008, consumers now seek ‘value and values.’”* And they are not afraid of speaking up about it … or putting their money where their mouth is.

“More than 71 percent of Americans are part of a ‘spend shift,’ in which consumers are actively aligning their spending with their values. This shift cuts across demographic groups and is rewarding companies that demonstrate transparency, authenticity, and kindness in their operations.”* 71 percent. This is no mere blip.

People want to know you stand for something more than products and profit and, if you want it to lead to sales, it had better be something that’s relevant to them. So relevance is the first of four essentials for brand experience strategy that our team at Graal Brand Agency is exploring.

Relevance is about putting human experience and values at the center of all your business decisions. It isn’t about jumping on the latest trend or technology. It’s about taking the time to understand what matters and why. To be proactive about human behavior instead of reactive.

But I understand it’s tough to take that time today. Companies are caught up in keeping up. If we just look at one part of the brand experience alone – marketing – it used to be that Mad Men could get away with producing four great pieces of content in a year, now we need 4,000. But volume and speed may not get you where you want. Speeding up might just be doing the wrong things faster.

So if we’re working with the Brand Experience Infinity Loop to help map a strategy, our first step is making sure your map is even in the right galaxy.
We need to get the “why” right. To understand what actually drives choice. Not based on our assumptions, or even why people tell you they choose in focus groups or the typical survey. Because more often than not, they’re lying, and they don’t even know they’re doing it. (Actually, in partnership with some brilliant PhDs from Lund University, we have a way around that. If you’re interested in what we call our “lie detector” just ask about the Graal Brand Potential Analysis. Because the foundation of any great relationship is honesty, right?)

So how do we find true relevance and values? Right here, at the core.

If you’ve worked with any brand strategists, then you’ve probably seen some variation of this model. Imagine it’s the cross-section of a sphere and at the core is where we figure out who you are – your purpose, your values, your personality and vision. Then we work our way out to create the external identity.

Of course, where it gets real is in the experience: your communication and behavior.
People may understand your purpose and values, but they believe it based on the experience – all of it – across every interaction with every part of your company over time.
The brand experience is the only thing customers, media, employees, etc. truly see of your brand. Without it, even the best brand platform and design remain just words and colors on a piece of paper.

But you can’t just skip ahead to GO and collect $200. There is no brand experience strategy without the core. Notice I said “strategy” because there’s always brand experience. But giving you some sort of control over it and making sure it’s based on values that actually drive sales and motivate people, requires the time and work to establish a strong core that’s relevant to the human experience.

So now we’re two articles into our relationship: defining brand experience with the infinity loop and relevance. Ready for a third date? How about tomorrow we take the next step … and mind the gaps.


* Bush, M. C. (2018). A great place to work for all: better for business, better for people, better for the world. Oakland: Berrett-Koehler, pp35-36.

Oh, for the love of brand experience

19 Jul
19 juli, 2018

Brand experience is one of those buzzwords that’s shooting right to top of mind today. More companies are realizing the impact it has on everything from sales to employee happiness. But for some reason, the definition of brand experience is all over the place. So I’m taking the chance to straighten it out, if there’s any power in my influence to do so.

And it starts, as most important things do, with love. Brand love, in this case. You see, love isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things. We love, we choose, we forgive a brand not because of any one gesture, but because of all of them. And there it is …

To be strategic about it, when we talk about “brand experience” we need to make sure we’re not talking about just AN experience or experiences (an event, experiential campaigns, etc.), but rather THE experience. The whole of it. The perception that all those things create in people’s minds and hearts over time.

Basically, your brand experience is a lifelong love story – well hopefully it’s lifelong. That’s why it’s so important to define and work with brand experience as a holistic, long-term strategy. Treat it as a relationship, not a date.

So back to AN vs. THE. You can create AN experience that impacts THE brand experience. What you cannot do is create THE brand experience with AN event or campaign. Actually, this should take some of the pressure off to perform in any one moment. Every little thing doesn’t need to be AN experience, but rather support THE brand experience. (Because admit it, aren’t we a little tired of seeing everything proclaimed to be an experience? “Our login experience.” “Our bathroom experience.” Uh ok.)

THE brand experience is truly greater than the sum of its parts. So to work strategically with it, we need a new kind of map. One that’s more inclusive than what our other models give us.
For example, we have the traditional sales funnel. It’s been around for ages and it works, but it’s not the whole story of what’s driving choice towards brands today. And we have marketing action plans that take us towards awareness and leads. But again, that’s only a part of the experience that drives choice. And now we also have digital user experience and customer journeys meant to ensure a seamless path to purchase across all the channels. And this loops in a whole lot more of the brand experience, but still …
You have all sorts of touchpoints not covered within these models – from your lobby ambiance to employee happiness to your policies for suppliers – and we have a need to plot and understand their effect on the whole, too. Because my experience waiting in your lobby or my feelings about how you treat suppliers are as much an experience of your brand for me as using your product or seeing an ad. And they influence my decisions.

You can probably see where this is leading. What we need is a more holistic and strategic way of working with THE branding experience. So here is a visual we’re excited to begin working with: The Brand Experience Infinity Loop.
Now this isn’t about incorporating yet another branding model. It’s about allowing this simple yet powerful visual to give us the right mentality for working with THE brand experience.

The infinity loop draws people in and keeps them there. From exploring a need, to discovering solutions, to evaluating your brand, choosing you, using your product, loving you and advocating for you. Over and over again. There is no end point, there is only forward movement and continuing relationship. The brand experience is this pulsing, organic, fluid energy that literally loops in every part of your organization. This is what strong brand equity looks like.
So where do we start? How do we map a way forward with all of this? That’s what our team at Graal Brand Agency are exploring, and this post barely scratches the surface. I’d love to share four essentials we’re working with right now for brand experience strategy.

But for that, you’ll have to come back for a second date, err post, tomorrow. And then maybe we’ll have the start of a beautiful experience.

Of guts and glory

15 Feb
15 februari, 2016

The letter you’re about to read first saw daylight over a year ago. Actually, it first saw moonlight because I sat straight up in bed at 3:20 am and just had to write this down. Why did I hesitate to post? Because I thought my middle-of-the-night venting might have been too harsh. (You’ll get the full irony of me not having guts here in a minute when you read the letter.) But believe me when I say this comes from a place of desperately wanting to help. Oh, how I just want to help my clients be amazing. Because you all have amazing potential. And of course, there are also countless times you guys blow me out of the water with your smart ideas and bold moves. So this is also my tribute to every hard-fought creative idea you’ve pushed through your organizations.

Dear clients,

Can we talk about guts for a minute? Because my guess is, yours are pretty smart. When you really love a creative idea (when you feel that little twinge of excitement and know right away it’s a winning concept), your gut reaction is probably right. Trust it.

And fight for it.

Of course, we know that’s not easy. Especially when you need to involve lots of people. After the first “Aha!” moment, the rationalizing starts. Because, well, if you ask people what they think, they often feel they haven’t done their job if they don’t come up with “tweaks.” But more often than not, once people start overthinking and changing things – no matter how rational the reasons – the concept loses that special something. In other words, it will not be the same concept that got you excited. And that’s a shame, because it means you’ll never know the power it could have had on your target audience — and your bottom line.

Here’s a little story of how things could have gone (and sadly often do).

Pitch meeting …

In an imaginary Nike conference room in an alternate reality, a creative team unveils a new communication concept: Just do it.

And the clients are jubilant. ”We love it! Yes, this is the direction we want to go. It’s simple and powerful.”

A few days later, via email …

”We’ve had some feedback from various stakeholders and, although we still love it, there’s some concern it could be misunderstood. What if people think we’re talking about s.e.x.? You know, just do IT. So we’d like to make a minor change: just switch ‘it’ to ‘sports.’ That’s our core brand essence, after all. [smiley-face emoticon]”

More days pass, with a lot more emails …

”Remember, not all of our target groups participate in sports. We also target spectators.”

”The word ‘just’ might seem harsh or pushy.”

”Wait! We don’t actually mention our offering! We have to get that in there.”

An hour before print deadline …

”So sorry, guys, but Legal is insisting on making sure we aren’t recommending that people do anything beyond their health limits. Good news, though, with this last small adjustment, we’ve got everyone on board to sign off!”

The result …

Nike – Just do or watch sports safely* in high-performance athletic apparel and equipment, when you feel like it

*Always consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before doing anything.

The moral of the story?

If a creative concept gets you excited, just do it.

Launch of new DIAB website

11 Feb
11 februari, 2013

DIAB has been at the leading edge of composite core material development for over fifty years. Now they’re launching a new website developed by Pyramid.

The new website has an improved design and navigation function that makes it easy for DIAB’s customers to find relevant and industry-specific information. The site is built in Sitecore and includes features like a super search function and mega menu.

To visit the new website, go to

The project group from Pyramid includes: C-G Hansson (Account Director), Ann-Christin Lindstedt (Copy), Hanna Lindborg McHenry (Copy), Arvid Kandell (System developer), Simon Persson (System developer), Patrik Olsson (Interactive Art Director), Sandra Weberg (Web designer).

SuperBowl Ads of 2013: Tearjerkers For the Win

08 Feb
8 februari, 2013

Last year around this time, people were buzzing about a Super Bowl ad that broke from the funny, flashy mold: Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” for Chrysler. And it seems the same thing is happening again.

This year, two companies garnered big attention with something simple and moving. Following up the success from last year, Dodge Ram (owned by Chrysler Group) gives us “Farmer.” With only the sound of Paul Harvey’s voice echoing from 1978 and still images of life on the farm, the company again made people sit up and listen.

2013 Dodge Ram Super Bowl Ad — “Farmer”

And, in what has been named by many as the winner of Super Bowl Ads 2013, Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser spot made quite a few eyes unexpectedly tear up for a man and his horse, serenaded by Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide.” You could even go to Twitter and submit a name for the little Clydesdale, born just a couple of weeks before the ad aired. The chosen name? Hope.

2013 Budweiser Super Bowl Ad — The Clydesdales: “Brotherhood”

So, last year there was one. Now there are two. The question is now that they’ve proven twice in a row that simple, quiet, stirring words and images capture attention, will we be seeing a slew of these types of ads during next year’s Bowl? If so, will they have the same impact? No matter what, I believe the lesson is clear (and certainly not new). The best communication moves people. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel something real. And, of course, if you can move them in a way that most others aren’t doing at the time, you’re golden.

Weigh in: what do you think of these two, and what was your favorite of all?

Manners Matter in Social Media

31 Jan
31 januari, 2013

Earlier this week, our Art Director Henrik posted about a creative annual report from Warby Parker. I, too, was impressed with their report and tweeted about it. I didn’t mention the company name or twitter handle; yet, because they had set up an auto-search for links to their report, the company’s customer service twitter account found my tweet.

And here’s the really important part: they thanked me.

Simple. Easy. So impressive. Strange that a plain “we appreciate you” would impress me so, but the reality is that few businesses take the time to do that. So if you do, you stand out. For all the right reasons.

Take a look at the @WarbyParkerHelp twitter stream. It’s tweet after tweet of thank you, you’re welcome, let us know if we can help, we appreciate you, etc. Each one connected to a person out there who now feels great about the company. And it doesn’t stop there. Because each one of those people is connected to countless others.

Twitterstream Warby Parker

I’m not a customer. I may never be. (Although I’m seriously considering getting some new frames for my glasses now.) But in social media, that doesn’t matter. Why? Because one person’s voice can reach so far. After all, I tweeted about it — twice. And here I am writing a post about it. You’re reading it. Who else will see it?

Never underestimate the power of simple manners and direct acknowledgement. You never know how far it will reach.

Warby Parker tweet the author