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.
I’m sure you can see where this is leading. What we need is a more holistic and strategic model for working with THE branding experience. So here is what I’m calling The Brand Experience Infinity Loop.
Now this isn’t about creating yet another 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 I and 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.