As Marty Neumeier famously says in his book The Brand Gap, “The brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.”
In the age of the ever-connected consumer, a brand must be more than a logo and a well-documented design system. Because today's consumer is not only connected but empowered to define which brands they interact with, we must create experiences that captivate, engage, and nurture customers and their buying states throughout every touchpoint in the consumer journey. Your brand is only as memorable as the experiences your customers and your users have with it so, in order to win, your brand needs to be laser-focused, obsessed with crafting and creating desired experiences for its customers.
People are Distracted
One only needs to step outside to realize that we live in an extremely connected and informed culture where everyone carries a 5-inch slab of limitless distractions around in their pocket and new ideas, opinions, reviews, and messages are only a click or tap away. With your audience overwhelmed with communications, your experience needs to provide value or your customers will go somewhere else. According to Idris Mootee, CEO of Idea Couture, the average consumer is exposed to as many as 500 to 2000 branded messages per day. When consumers are overloaded and suffering from “notification-induced A.D.D.”, how does your brand stand out?
Figuring out how to drill through the noise is a critical behavior for those looking to gain traction in the market. In the modern age of marketing, engaging consumers with memorable, meaningful storytelling that connects with them on an emotional level is the new logo. More screens in more places means more distraction, which leads to more opportunities for your message to get buried and forgotten. Armed with a deep understanding of your customers, their context, behaviors and psychology at every touchpoint can empower your brand to shape stories that create impactful experiences and motivate your customers to buy. Brands that lead with great experiences disrupt the predisposition of distraction and grab our attention. The stories a brand tells, and the experiences it creates crystallize to form a meaningful brand that stands out in the hearts and minds of its consumers.
Everything is a Commodity
In an increasingly competitive marketplace where banner blindness abounds and every brand that exists has a Facebook, brands as they have traditionally existed have become a commodity. With more brands recognizing the power of great design and Chinese copies hitting the market for a fraction of the cost, the brands who separate themselves from the pack by creating unparalleled experiences for their customers are the ones leading their industries.
In a world wrought with sameness, “brand” must assume a new meaning. In the past, a brand used to help us choose which products we bought and consumed. With so many similarities within the market, choice paralysis has led to brand indifference. In the modern competitive landscape, experience is what sets your brand apart; it’s an extension of your brand. If a brand is what helps us choose products, it is experiences which help us choose brands.
Brand loyalty is mostly dead. Long live experience loyalty. In order to stand out in the marketplace, brands need to have a clear purpose and provide meaning for consumers. This is the heart of your brand experience. Experiences create lasting connections between brands and consumers, which create the meaning and relevance that motivate purchase. Brand experience relationships resemble conversation more than commerce, with customers engaging with brands at numerous touch points before committing to buy. It is the new brand loyalty. Customers seek value through exploration and discovery of personal brand experiences. Their journey may enter and exit a brand’s sales funnel numerous times before they reach their unique buying state. Your brand experience is the result of all of the interactions that a person has with your brand, at every touchpoint, throughout their entire journey with you. By creating desired experiences for their customers, brands unlock new paths to loyalty from their customers.
People crave these experiences and remember the brands who satisfied their cravings. Research has shown that they’re willing to pay as much as 25% more for a product they believe they will have a great experience with it. Brands that create lasting and memorable experiences for their customers transcend corporate identity and become part of customer identity; the marketer’s holy grail.
Better Brand Experiences
Similar to how great experiences increase your brand strength, negative experiences create a negative perception of your brand. By creating memorable moments for your customers through interactions with your brand your customers will develop a natural connection with you. They will feel familiarity, and a level of comfort as part of that connection you created through the experiences you had together. Your brand is an experience, and in your customer’s minds their experience is your brand.
By creating better brand experiences your brand is able cut through the fog and keep your brand promise to your consumers. Experience is how you help them accomplish their dreams, how you win their hearts, minds, and dollars, and how you insert your brand in their memories to achieve loyalty.
A ‘brand’ is how we distinguish a company from its competitors. An experience is why that company matters to its consumers.