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What is a brand experience?

Many of us think a brand experience begins and ends with aesthetics – a common misconception. We believe a successful brand experience includes a golden thread woven through all aspects of the brand, building a powerful connection through every touchpoint.

“Brand experience is walking the walk and not just talking the talk. It is the proof of the brand promise.” Pippa Hudson, Creative Director, CWDi.

How consumers experience brands is critical to business success. In fact, the brand experience is not only key to competitive differentiation; it’s how brands will generate future revenue.

“Experiences won’t just sell products. Experiences will be the products.” – Doug Stephens, Retail Prophet

Brand experiences also motivate buying behaviour and increase consumer loyalty. In the study Brand Experience: What Is It? How Is It Measured? Does It Affect Loyalty? the authors found that brand experience affects both consumer satisfaction and loyalty, directly and indirectly through brand personality associations.

In this edition of CWDi Insights, we share 7 key elements that make an extraordinary brand experience, and what brands can do to create a lasting impact.

1. Consumer at the core

Successful brand experiences are consumer-central.

To create these experiences, you need to evaluate every part of the consumer journey and go beneath the surface to discover where you can add value. Find the micro-moments where the consumer interacts with your brand. Crafting your brand story around each of these moments is how you can create meaningful brand experiences.

2. Designed

Great design encapsulates form and function. It looks great and works perfectly. Design your brand experience from product to delivery and ensure that every touchpoint is optimised to deliver an extraordinary experience.

Apple is one of the best examples of brand experience through design. What made Apple stand out was that their products didn’t just look different: they worked differently too.

“Design is a funny word. Some people think that design means how it looks. But of course if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”Steve Jobs, Apple

3. Memorable

Relationships are built on memories and memories are made through our senses. An experience is never one-dimensional, so engage your consumers through all five senses. Create a lasting impression and start a loyal consumer relationship through memorable brand experiences.

“Brand experience is conceptualised as sensations, feelings, cognition and behavioural responses. Done well it can produce a deeper emotional connection and greater brand loyalty.” – Priatek, 21 June 2017

BMW recently launched their 7 series with an immersive dining experience that used technolgy and fine dining to trigger their guests five senses.

4. Unique

Unique brand language, rituals and visual elements distinguish your brand experience from the next. By using unique brand characteristics, you’ll be able to set your brand apart from competitors and help make your brand experience memorable.

Nando’s, Nike and Red Bull are great examples of brands that are instantly recognisable.

5. Personalised experiences

Digitisation has caused a massive shift in what consumers expect from brands. Consumers today expect offers and experiences personalised to them. They favour brands that are more in touch with their needs.

The first step to a truly personalised experience is knowing your consumer and utilising consumer insights and data.

Going the extra mile to create truly personalised experiences makes your consumer feel valued.

YuppieChef is an example of a brand that made an impact on the South African online retail space with their personalised notes and unique online shopping experience.

6. The fizz

Leave a lasting impression with an element that is surprising. A surprise can make people feel special and important.The industry calls these “surprise and delight” strategies. We call it the fizz. Either way, it gets results. These strategies serve as great mobilisers to create brand loyalty.

The KLM Surprise campaign is a successful example of the “surprise and delight” strategy. For this campaign, the airline used social media to learn more about their passengers. While passengers waited to board their flight, the airline surprised them with a personal gift that they could use at their destination.

7. Consistency

A successful brand consistenly creates meaningful brand experiences. While experiences may seem spontaneous, they are well-engineered and leave nothing to chance.

When planning an event or activation, the CWDi team creates meticulous production schedules in order to deliver an extraordinary brand experience.These schedules are prepared and rehearsed before event day.

“We can’t run an event without proper timing and rehearsals. It’s like a bible and that’s how you run events.” Debbie Nortje, Head of Events, CWDi.

Brand experiences matter

Your next event or marketing campaign may draw attention, make an impact or get the return on investment you want. But brands that offer a living, breathing experience are the ones that outlive the rest.

If you want people to connect and engage with your brand, every touchpoint needs to be special and memorable. The best way to achieve this is by setting your brand apart with an extraordinary brand experience.