There are a few special moments in our lives that we cherish – they stick with us forever and are easy to recall.
Some of these memorable events are often an experience we had with a brand. Whether it was hugging Mickey at DisneyWorld or seeing an act at Cirque du Soleil, these brands are tied to us forever.
There are many different types of brand experiences that influence how audiences view a brand. Whether it’s emotional connections in content, targeted ads or promotions, the overall goal is the same: make a positive impact on the audience’s feelings.
What is brand experience?
Brand experience influences how customers feel about a brand through a simple but meaningful encounter. Brand experience builds consumer awareness and often creates brand-faithful customers. The ultimate goal is to elicit positive emotions and feelings from consumers concerning a specific brand.
This means that customers are directly influenced by all types of different experiences they have with different brands.
Knowing this, it stands to reason that you should work to create better experiences for customers.
Why is brand experience so important?
“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” – Jerry Gregoire
If your brand experience is dull and underdeveloped, audiences won’t engage. It really is that simple.
The following are two different company’s newsletter signup suggestions. It’s abundantly clear that one stands out more:
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The second brand, which chose to gamify their newsletter signup, offers much more of an experience. Don’t think of these offerings as bribes. Rather, as a way to give audiences more.
If customers already like your product, that’s great. They may sign up for your newsletter no matter how you present the signup. The difference is, one signup comes with the chance to change brand perception.
This is just one case that shows how important it is to provide a unique experience. I will give you plenty of dynamic ideas to create amazing, memorable experiences. But first, let’s take a look at some successful brand experience examples.
3 brand experience examples to consider
The following examples are a great way to understand how brands have historically been successful in providing customer experiences.
Lego innovated a great experience for customers before, during and after purchases. It accomplished this through touch points that evoked thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Audiences experience the Lego brand hands-on without making a sale. Case in point, Lego shops and Legoland destinations offer free products and events. The company also creates movies, video games and virtual reality.
2. Red Bull
Red Bull is vastly popular, having been around for decades in a relatively new market (energy drinks). It has created unique brand experiences by holding sponsored events for sports and extreme physical feats.
From things like motorbikes, car races, marathons and skydiving, Red Bull events are sure to have the extreme fix customers crave when they drink a caffeine-filled beverage.
Most noticeably, a Red Bull-sponsored space jump ended up breaking the sound barrier and giving everyone who tuned into the live stream – all eight million of them – quite the memorable experience.
Netflix has fairly limited options to create a memorable brand experience. Whereas a movie theater can have premieres with costumes, celebrities and special events, Netflix instead streams directly to customers’ houses.
However, that didn’t stop them from creating memorable experiences for fans of popular shows they revitalized.
The first show was ‘Arrested Development’, in which the streaming giant held an event at a banana stand, where fans could visit and learn more about the upcoming episodes.
The next show was ‘Gilmore Girls’, a fan favorite which had been off the air for a while. Netflix had a return event upcoming, so they remodeled hundreds of coffee shops exactly like Luke’s Diner from the show. This created a lot of buzz and memorable moments for fans.
These examples give us a pretty good jumping off point for building our own brand experiences.
Now it’s time to come up with our own ways to make products evoke positive emotions. Here are some strategies to guide you along the way.
Strategies to boost brand experience
Your audience is human. Give them a human experience!
“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.” – Vladimir Nabokov
The good thing about knowing your audience is you can tailor projects and campaigns to meet their needs. Fortunately, you know that the audience is human, so you’re able to target their senses. A sensory response makes an experience much more memorable.
Now, everyone reacts to specific senses differently. Some have strong reactions to smells, while others prefer taste. Luckily, you’ll be able to elicit a general range of senses and never be too far off (unless Haley Joel Osment is one of your target audience).
So, how do we go about targeting the audience’s senses? This depends on your specific brand. You’re not limited by it, but it does play a factor in which between smell, taste, hearing, etc. you target.
If you’ve ever been to an Apple store, it’s clear that each one was designed to form a sensory attachment to the customer experience. They have modern, clean, simple, painted-white walls with a wide open space and are visible from the outside-in.
Clearly, they wanted to appeal to the aesthetic so that audiences would think of them as a visually stunning sight to see.
Conversely, if a massage-chain had loud heavy metal music played in all of their stores, customers would get the wrong feelings associated with their brand. Remember, there is such a thing as eliciting the wrong senses, and it leads to negative brand association.
Every brand personalizes experiences. Take it a step further.
“Personalization is pointless without knowing the individual. Understand the dreams, hopes, and fears that motivate your customers, then hit them where it counts.” – Paul Gillin.
By now, every brand strives to personalize customer experiences. Quite simply, it has shown to be an effective strategy. Therefore, personalization has become the new standard, a bare minimum if you will.
As a result, you’re going to have to create brand experiences that are personalized beyond the norm. Depending on your brand, this personalization will differ.
If, for example, a real estate brand suggests ten different houses based on the fact you like light blue, but some of them are out of your price range, they’ve only delivered a half-personalized experience.
Clearly, in order to succeed, at least in the above scenario, you would need to dive deeper into the realm of personalization and suggest light-blue houses within the correct price range.
So, What are some ways we can go about doing this? Realistically, the solution is technology-driven and data-driven. We’d like to think it would be possible to create personalized brand experiences without modern tech tools, but it’s just not practical anymore, especially on a large scale.
There are so many different solutions designed to benefit specific brands, so do some extensive research to make sure your brand is using the right tools, like branding software, to help personalize your next campaign.
There’s a difference between creating emotional content and creating emotion-evoking content. Make sure you do the latter.
In 2018, Lexus released a television advertisement that was written entirely by an artificial intelligence machine. In it, a man designs and builds a car then sends it off to get tested for safety.
The machine responsible for the script compiled data about successful videos and determined they all elicited emotional responses. Therefore, it tried to jam (I use this word very intentionally) emotion into its car commercial.
Shown below, the man is nearly crying as he watches his car drive away to the testing site. This will be tough to resonate an emotional response from human audiences, as they don’t get choked up over cars.
This was a clear example of creating emotional content. Having emotional representations stuffed into a branding campaign is different than evoking emotions.
Making content that elicits emotions clearly takes a bit of finesse and subtly, rather than a ham-fisted approach.
The best advice I can give, then, is to be authentic. Audiences pick up on dishonesty right away. You can’t manipulate emotions with slimy, shady content. This type of content is already over-saturing the current market.
Instead, work on ways to connect with your audience on a deeper level. Focus on them and their real experiences. Only then can an emotional connection begin to take place.
Typical brand experience obstacles and how to overcome them
Surprisingly, some of the biggest obstacles to optimizing experiences come internally within each brand.
Roughly ⅘ of marketers understand the power of brand experience, but less than ⅔ of them believe their specific brand is delivering a strong experience.
Similarly, about ⅔ of team members believe their superiors don’t place emphasis on brand experience the same way they do.
This leads to a disconnect within teams, and eventually, campaigns. The solution is an emphasis and/or re-evaluation of your branding strategy. This gives a firmer structure of goals and a deeper emphasis on the overall brand.
The future of brand experience
The reality is that no one can successfully predict the future. What is trending today may be dead tomorrow.
However, that doesn’t mean to simply let the pieces fall where they may. Part of the branding game is the idea that everything will at some point change. It’s not our job to pinpoint that change in advance, but instead to be prepared as much as possible to react when it does.
That being said, educated speculation is an important asset in preparing for the future of brand experience. The current trajectory appears to be one in which everyone wants personalized and authentic experiences.
Prepare for this to be relevant in the near future, but also prepare for the possibility of a totally different landscape.
Remember, even though you can’t control customers or prospects, it is possible to influence their perception. This gives you more power than you think. Make sure to use this important leverage to your advantage.
Finally, evaluate the way audiences experience your brand from time to time. Chances are their perceptions will change – be ready to adapt when they do.
Check out our complete branding guide to learn more.