Connected Brand Experience
In a digital first world with a developing ‘instant’ culture, every interaction customers have with brands leaves a lasting effect, whether that be positive or negative. Engaging with a company is no longer just about the physical experience of buying a product or service it’s so, so much more than that. A brand experience has many layers and it’s built on every engagement or interaction customers have with a brand. Brand experience encompasses this entire customer journey, from the very first peek on your instagram feed to the visits in store.
Positive brand experience can add lots of value to your brand, however a poor brand experience can impact things like loyalty and positive customer experience. Brands are built on community and when customers have a positive connected experience they want to share this amongst their friends and peers. In order to create a positive and connected experience your brand should aim for consistency across all customer touch points. (A touchpoint is any time a potential customer comes in contact with your brand–before, during, or after they purchase something from you.)
What is a Brand Experience?
Without fully understanding the concept of a ‘brand experience’ you will not be able to provide valuable experiences for your own customers. To break it down… ‘Brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.’ Marty Neumeier
Brand can only be defined by how other people perceive your company. ‘Brand’ is the whole existence of your company from the eyes of the audience. It’s all about how people recognise, connect and feel about your company.
Experience is described as an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. A brand experience can start way before a customer interacts with your brand and continues long after that first interaction. They key being here you want to leave a lasting impression on that customer which makes them feel good (positive).
Brand Experience simply describes how an entire brand is experienced by the observer, it encompassess the emotional and behavioral response they have to all of your brand’s touchpoints. This feeling is activated by a combination of what they already know about the company plus their physical engagement or encounter with the brand online or offline.
Creating a Brand Experience
To create a truly authentic brand you need to ensure you have consistency across all your touchpoints and understand the importance of brand experiences and the impact this can have on your business. The impact this has should be intentional, crafted and delivered with brand strategy and purpose.
Everything your customers see, read, hear and feel about a company forms their perception of a brand (intangible brand elements). These attributes are what we describe as the customer touchpoints, these can differ from business to business however here are some examples.
- Brand voice/messaging/communication
- Online – Social/Website/App
- Physical space – retail store/restaurant/cafe
- Customer experience – Staff/service/products
- Look and feel/brand identity
A brand experience is felt by the customer so ultimately this reaction is down to how they feel when they engage with a brand. The brand itself cannot choose or decide this feeling, however they can definitely impact and influence this experience for their customer. Customers expectations and desires are created based on past experiences and therefore there will always be something that is comparable, companies should strive to put the customer at the heart of everything they do to ensure they provide consistent experience.
To be able to create valuable and consistent brand experiences you must create a connected experience, this brand strategy should be rolled out across all areas of your company including online and offline touchpoints. A customer entering your interior for the first time should have a familiarity with your brand from what they have seen or heard of it before this encounter. Equally, if a customer has a great brand experience in your retail space this should then be positively reinforced by the experience they have online.
Interior Brand Experience
Brand storytelling through your physical space is a key touchpoint for your customer and this often gets overlooked. Your physical space whether this be a retail store, cafe or restaurant can potentially have the biggest influence on the customers experience because you can capture their attention while they are fully immersed in your brand’s environment.
A brands identity and narrative should come together to create a captivating interior brand experience. The interior should demonstrate to the customer exactly what your brand stands for, reflect your brand’s message and most importantly be consistent with the rest of the brand’s touchpoints.
Starbucks is a brand who leads with a customer centric approach, and in their words they ‘bring purpose and cohesion to every interaction customers have with our brand.’ Their purpose is clear and their internal and external culture is aligned, essentially everything they do as a brand is consistent. Everything from their tone of voice to their cafe interior is strategically crafted to encompass their brand purpose and provide the ultimate customer first brand experience.
As their brand has grown the identity has developed, so much so that Starbucks are now established and wildly recognised enough to remove the brand name from their most recognisable asset – their logo. ‘The preferred approach is to use the Siren logo by itself, unlocked from the wordmark.’ – Starbucks Creative Expression
Their cafes provide a connected experience too, they are highly brand focused and so well considered that if they were to remove their identity assets from the space there is no doubt the cafe would be instantly recognised as Starbucks. Similarly, their brand language is so authentically embedded into the brand culture that it is now widely used by their community, changing the way we talk about coffee.
When brands get it right it can be transformational and deeply rewarding, this is why Starbucks is leading the way as a powerhouse coffee brand.
(Starbucks brand expression guide – https://creative.starbucks.com/)