How do you create a relevant and engaging brand experience?
Darren Coleman, author of Building Brand Experiences: A Practical Guide to Retaining Brand Relevance, describes it as both a creative and systematic process. At least in my opinion.
In a recent article, he presents four elements of the brand experience environment, which is the context in which your brand and associated experiences are built.
You start by understanding your stakeholders. (When I was in grad school, we’d ask “Who’s your audience?”) Start by building personas because it “ … provides a powerful platform for building relevant brand experiences.” Then, engage your stakeholders. Mr. Coleman mentions the #OREODunkSweepstakes, which makes me think of a delicious, once-crunchy Oreo baptized with espresso. (Worth every WW point, too.) And, of course, you manage your stakeholders’ expectations because overpromising and underdelivering is “tatamount to brand experience suicide.”
After understanding your stakeholders and managing their expectations, you must fine-tune your perspective. Embrace transparency, says Mr. Coleman, and offers millennials as his example. They are “drawn to brands based on who they are, what they stand for, and why they exist.” Make sure that building a robust brand experience doesn’t stop at marketing but spans the entire organization from HR to operations and facilities. Compete through value, rather than price. All the cost-cutting in the world won’t help if customers don’t see the value in your product or service. As Mr. Coleman puts it, “ … even in austere times customers make buying decisions based on factors other than price.” Be patient. It takes time to build a brand experience. Fast-growing brands like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are the exception, not the norm. Don’t freak out at having less control than in the past. Monitor real-time data feeds so you know what’s going on with your brand and, by all means, work with social influencers to shape what you can.
Next, consider how to deliver your brand experience. Emotional appeal is critical. Mr. Coleman says, “Irrespective of the market you operate in you need to understand how you want to make your stakeholders feel then build experiences that help you do that.” Empower your customers to co-create. That is, allow them to personalize products or build their own stories about their relationship with your brand. Doing so “engenders a sense of control,” which (in my opinion) we’re sadly lacking in today’s world. And create experiences that span all channels. Omnichannel is powerful.
Finally, be data-driven. Mr. Coleman says, “Insight, not anecdote, needs to drive the brand experience building decisions you make.” Boards like numbers, but don’t forget including qualitative insights for a holistic approach. Don’t neglect employee and brand metrics for a sole focus on financial metrics.
I’m looking forward to reading Mr. Coleman’s book. The article summarized here is persuasive in its emphasis on creating a brand experience environment that works in today’s business climate. I’m thinking that it will be as useful to start-ups as it is to established companies that have decided to rebrand.
melpomen — 123rf.com