For a marathoner, picking the right running shoe is of utmost importance. Runners go on and on about selecting the right shoe and what it does for their running. However, novice runners usually know nothing about running shoes, so then how do they go ahead and select a brand and model like Nike Pegasus? It has to do more with the experience a runner had while purchasing it. At Nike, every touch point is designed to evoke emotions of trust, durability, and quality, and it is the key reason why many runners keep going over budget while purchasing their shoes.
What is Brand Experience?
The Journal of Marketing defines brand experience as “sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments.”
Brand experience is no longer limited to a logo or tagline. While these are also important, remember that brand experience starts the first time a customer hears, sees or touches your brand, browses your website, walks into the cleverly designed store, interfaces with the representatives, makes a purchase, and goes through the post-sale interaction cycle. All of these steps evoke emotional triggers which have a lasting impact and either make or break your chance of a sale.
Samsung Opera House in Bangalore is one such testimony to engaging people with all senses. Housing the latest technology gadgets from Samsung and a VR experience zone where you can play the fighter pilot and perform some aircraft stunts in a virtual space battle, ski down the alps or cycle through scenic Europe, the Opera House promises a long lasting emotional experience more than anything else.
What Makes Brand Experience So Important?
It is simple, will you ever go back to a Michelin Star restaurant if you had a bad experience? No, right? How do you pick one brand over another? A positive brand experience is the secret to gaining and retaining customers and therefore, driving revenue. Also, with so much competition and information overload, customers rely on their experience and emotions to identify brands that resonate with them and their values. Selling to a customer is not sufficient, everyone is doing that. Making sure the customer enjoys what you offer and remembers that experience is what matters; that is what referrals are based on.
Today’s customers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to expectations, they know exactly what they are seeking, and if you are not able to deliver on that, competition will speed to victory. Let’s look at some of the brands that are savoring that very victory:
What separates lush cosmetics from the many other highly known cosmetic brands? It’s their commitment to handmade, pure, and ethical products and their entire messaging, which is central to this very theme. The LUSH logo is simple, yet the contrasting and eye-catching product color palette and store design differentiates them and resonates with their customers. Also, the candy-like aroma that hits you when you step inside a LUSH store is like no other and leaves a lasting impression.
Ever wondered what is it that makes IKEA the undisputed king of DIY furniture and why people even include “IKEA” in their travel itineraries? IKEA’s brand experience is constant across all channels. Walk into any IKEA store, anywhere, and the layout is consistent. This is not a fluke but a purposefully designed masterstroke to reinstate their messaging of being reliable and user-friendly. IKEA knows exactly what their customer is seeking: trendy furniture that is durable, yet pocket-friendly, and all their systems are designed around invoking the same sense of durability and affordability.
Airbnb’s motto is to help create a world where you can be at home, anywhere. They cleverly use their neatly and clutter free design to communicate this messaging of being a trusted portal. Airbnb consistently refers to their story and values to align new products and features, enabling them to have a cohesive design that delivers solid brand experience even as they continue to evolve.
The ultimate master at creating a memorable brand experience is Zappos, a service company that also happens to sell shoes and clothes. Every messaging, touch points, and visual is designed with the story that customer service is the heart of their business. Even their tagline is “powered by service.” Did you know that their office space layout is done in a fashion where employees are encouraged to design their own workplace, self directed work, and customer service metrics are measured on personal emotional connections achieved? The consistency of their values across all mediums has made users view Zappos as being a fun and hardworking company that really puts their customers first, and who doesn’t want that?
So, how to build a good brand experience?
How to translate your brand story into tangible action items that impact brand experience? We have a few points that will get you started with a bang:
Resonate With Your Customer at Each Touch Point
Designing positive brand experience starts with knowing your customer. Identify your brand’s story and then develop consistent messaging that is tailored to what your customer wants. Bring all functions (yes, even HR, IT, and finance) to the table to ensure synergy across the organization and identify all the customer touch points. If you don’t know your customers well, the first step will be to do that.
Take Help of Product Experience Strategists
Working with a product experience architect can help your company create meaningful and distinctive touchpoints, whether through logo/website design, messaging, social media, retail experience, or customer service interaction, that grab and hold the attention of the customer while telling your brand’s story. A product experience architect is an expert at connecting human emotions to end product and will assist with everything from selecting the right colors to laying out the post sales messaging in a uniform and consistent manner.
Refresh, Reinvent, and Re-innovate
Customers feel comfortable and secure when a brand demonstrates consistently in every detail of the brand, and this results in a positive brand experience. But you might or might not get it right the first time. Once your visual brand experience map is in place, go out and seek feedback. Identify design elements that elicit the correct emotional response and ditch those that do not. This will allow you to stay relevant even as you continue to evolve.
To Sum Up
A good brand experience allows you to reap the true potential of your business. Design, beyond just the visual scope of logo/website or product, is central to creating a positive brand experience and product differentiation. What your user experiences every single time they interface with you makes your brand. A solid brand experience results in higher recall value, increased loyalty, more meaningful engagement, and therefore more revenue. And doesn’t this make a solid case for designing your brand experience? What are you waiting for, start now!