We all know the power of a good logo.
We can probably all agree that a brand needs to be presented consistently across all touchpoints in order to retain its value.
It therefore makes sense to define your brand’s visual “ground rules” in a brand guidelines document.
However, when it really comes down to it, these visual elements only represent a single, superficial element of your brand. It’s how customers and prospects experience your brand that really gives it meaning.
Understanding Brand Experiences
Think of physical brand locations like Apple stores, McDonald’s restaurants and high street bank branches. You’re seeing much more than a mere logo and colour scheme. Your surroundings are figuratively dripping with the company’s branding; it’s in display paraphernalia, on uniforms, on printed collateral, in the interior design, in the welcome you get, in the products you receive. Every element of your experience behind those doors is richly ingrained with that particular brand.
This is brand experience in action.
What is Brand Experience?
Brand experience is the practice of imbuing all company-to-customer interactions with on-brand sensory and cognitive experiences in order to nurture and affirm client relationships.
You may not think it, but every brand has a brand experience – for better or for worse! When you interact with certain brands, you can usually tell which ones have thought intently about the brand experience they provide and which ones haven’t.
When a brand’s design, copy, user experience, and product is flawlessly on-brand across all customer touchpoints – and when their collateral is clearly crafted around a fundamental, consistent understanding of their client’s motivations – you can tell that they’ve taken the time to create a meaningful, considered brand experience.
On the other hand, when a brand presents itself one way online, another way in person, and yet another way when interacting over social media or email, you can tell they haven’t thought much about providing a coherent or purposeful brand experience.
What is Brand Experience Design
Brand experience design is the practice of creating positive brand experiences. It’s effectively rethinking the way you interact with your audience to turn every touchpoint into a positive, on-brand, human connection.
Whether we like it or not, our relationship with brands can be quite emotional; especially when we’ve had overwhelmingly positive or negative encounters with them in the past. Just ask anyone who’s waited overnight in line for the latest iPhone. Just ask anyone who’s left a strongly worded 1 star rating online.
When you design your brand experience, you need to pinpoint the emotional connection you want people to feel towards your brand. How can you bolster those feelings in a natural, meaningful way? How can you instil that sensation into every public or audience-facing touchpoint? How can you practically and affordably provide a positive, memorable twist to all customer interactions?
This may all feel remarkably touchy-feely to some (especially those in the B2B space) but we connect with brands we know, like, and trust. Those are all feelings. We want our audience to feel that we’re the right solution for their needs, to feel that we have their best interests at heart. Brand experience design helps to nurture those feelings within the customer’s mind.
Designing Your Own Brand Experience
Your own brand experience should consistently shine forth in every customer-facing interaction you have. In our opinion, you need to consider three key factors when crafting your own brand experience. If any of these change, your brand experience may need to adjust to suit:
- Your “Why” – The reasons why you do what you do; your company’s culture; and your vision, mission, and value statements. This acclaimed video from TED and Simon Sinek is well worth a watch for reconnecting with a lost “why”.
- Buyer Need – Good brand experiences stem from a fundamental understanding of how your buyer interacts with you. Once you know this, consider how you can logically enrich those interactions in an on-brand way.
- Memorability – Brand experience happens when branding goes the extra mile, so whatever you decide to do needs to be distinctive and positive. A little generosity here or consideration there goes a long way.
Brand experience starts with brand consistency. All of your customer touchpoints should use the same, consistent visual style and linguistic tone of voice.
Similarly, your brand experience needs to be implemented consistently across your whole customer base. It’s no good if two friends interact with your brand in exactly the same way on the same day and get two very different experiences.
There’s also a lot to be said for keeping your in-house communications on-brand too – it keeps your staff on the same page, surrounding them with the experience that they need to convey to customers.
Examples of Brand Experience Design
Let’s end on a few real and imagined examples of positive brand experiences to help get your creative juices flowing.
Enjoy Your Trip!
Imagine a travel agent whose truly personal service makes them unique. They individually tailor holidays and work trips to precisely meet customers’ wants and needs.
Prior to each trip, and to add an extra dimension to their personal service, the company could send a branded beach towel to those who book seaside holidays; a branded jar of hot chocolate to those booking a winter cabin retreat; or even a physical tourist map or language phrasebook for those off on a far-flung city break. Those booking travel for work could receive a high quality branded pen or notebook.
This generous gift of a relevant, handy product keeps the brand present in the customer’s mind, of course. But the more carefully and individually chosen the gift, the more valuable the brand experience.
”Vicky” by Vichy
In conjunction with conversational selling platform Automat, L’Oreal-owned skincare brand Vichy recently launched a “virtual skincare expert” to help pair customers with the correct Vichy skincare products for their needs. The service is operated through Facebook Messenger, giving customers a personalised, conversational, and completely on-brand experience through their smartphone or browser – much like the kind of consultative experience they’d receive in store.
Presentation Is Everything
The only physical way that product-based ecommerce businesses interact with their customers is through their product and their packaging. So why not make your packaging part and parcel of the brand experience?
You only need to look at Apple for an example of how unboxing an item can feel engaging – even exciting.
So let’s explore a few examples. A high-end, professional audience would probably respond well to crisp packaging and product design that oozes class without being overstated. An ecologically conscious audience would probably prefer appearances with a homespun charm and minimal packaging which can be easily recycled, reused, or composted. Customers ordering “little luxuries” will likely appreciate the personal touch that only a well-presented, hand-packaged box of treats can provide.
IKEA Place iOS App
There’s nothing more frustrating than buying furniture online and finding it’s far too big or too small when it arrives. IKEA recognised this problem and created IKEA Place, an augmented reality app that lets you preview a range of IKEA products in your own home or office, allowing you to virtually “try before you buy”.
The Little Things
Regardless of your audience or sector, whether you’re B2B, B2C, or B23, we all like to be listened to and recognised. If you don’t have the budget or time to spend on gifts or apps or packaging, remember that small gestures are usually low cost, if not free.
Simple acts like wishing someone a happy birthday or sending a note recognising a date or holiday that’s important to them can go a long way. If your client wins an award or an important contract, congratulate them with a small gift and/or a personal shout-out over social media.
We recognise that emotional, interpersonal sincerity isn’t always appropriate in professional settings, but little things can mean a lot in the right circumstances – and they needn’t break the bank.
Band Experience Should be Ever-Present
Hopefully this illustrates the real opportunity that lies in brand experiences, and that a good brand experience can be provided regardless of sector, industry, or budget.
Good brand experiences don’t need to be expensive or technically savvy – just creative and thoughtful. Brand experience design thankfully doesn’t require any wild “outside the box”, “blue sky” ideas; just a fundamental understanding of the role you play in the customer’s personal or professional life.
So today, try to think of how you can creatively and consistently enhance every customer touchpoint to build brand awareness and loyalty. Happy creating!
Looking for a creative marketing agency to help you provide consistent brand experiences your clients will love? Whether it’s online or offline; through design, print, web, or social, OLCO Design are standing by. Our experienced, creative marketers are brimming with inventive ideas that will bring your brand to life. You can trust us – we come highly recommended! Book your free consultation today to see what we can achieve together.