Over the past few years, brand experiences have made leaps and bounds into new territory. In the past, branding was all about creating a solid visual identity that would be recognizable and memorable. Today, brands are focusing on creating experiences that are engaging and impactful. Brand experience design takes many forms, but they all share one common goal: connecting with customers on a personal level. There are many factors that contribute to the evolution of brand experience. One of the most important aspects to pay attention to is the rise of digital media. Digital media has made it possible for brands to reach a global audience with ease. It has also created new opportunities for brands to interact with their customers. With the help of social media, brands can now create two-way conversations with their customers. This interaction is critical for building relationships and solidifying brand loyalty for years to come.
What Exactly is Brand Experience?
Brand experience encompasses the ability your brand has to connect with your customers and evoke emotion. It’s true what they say: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Your customer’s first impression of your brand will shape the way they interact with it. It’s crucial to remember that you’ll never be able to appeal to everyone. No matter what niche or industry you’re in, there’s always someone who will have a negative perception of your brand. Whether that means hatred for a cookie brand that isn’t gluten-free… Or a dislike for a car brand according to a bicycle enthusiast, it’s simply inevitable. The good news? You don’t have to please every customer that comes across your brand to provide a great experience. Customer experience branding is all about focus. You need to focus on your target market and what they want from your brand. This can be accomplished in several ways, but it all comes down to identifying and understanding your customer’s needs and desires. Ready to take your home service company branding to the next level? Our marketing experts at Wizard of Ads® have all the tools you need to build an unforgettable brand. Book a call with us to get started!
Brand Experience vs. Customer Experience
Most companies think brand experience and customer experience are the same. In actuality, they’re two separate concepts. Understanding the difference between the two will allow you to improve customer experience and your brand overall. When it comes to the customer experience, there are four factors to take into account.
- Product: The product itself is at the forefront of the customer experience. How does it compare to similar products on the market? Does it have a strong brand identity that resonates with customers? If they don’t connect with it, they won’t buy it.
- Features/Benefits: Features and benefits go hand in hand with the product. Features refer to the product from a descriptive perspective—think of this as the exterior. Benefits are a level deeper—what do those features do for your customer? How does the product solve their problem or make their life better?
- Pricing: The price of the product is another integral part of the customer experience. Price can positively or negatively impact sales. Lower prices mean higher accessibility for a variety of customers but could indicate lower value. As the price increases, the perceived value rises with it, and the percentage of affordability to consumers decreases.
- Digital Experience: This last element refers to the customer’s interactions with a brand or company through digital channels. This can include a brand's website, mobile app, social media platforms, and any other online touchpoints. A positive digital customer experience is essential for building customer loyalty and driving sales.
Every business needs to provide a great customer experience, whether they’re product or service-based. But, if the branding doesn’t go beyond that, it can be easy for a brand to be forgettable. Brand experience, on the other hand, appeals to the emotions and senses of the consumer. Here are the critical components to consider:
Perception includes how every aspect of a brand interacts with the consumer’s senses. The combination of visual elements, the brand colors, and even the brand voice impacts how the brand is perceived.
Inclusivity and immersion are crucial to an effective brand. If your customers aren’t able to interact and be part of the brand, they could lose interest altogether. Consumers want to know they’re valued and their opinion matters.
Personalizing your brand is another great way to create an experience. Create marketing campaigns that close the gap and connect with your customers. Use the way they engage with your brand on social media to gain valuable insight into what they might need.
Focusing on creating a brand experience that works for everyone can only hurt more than help. Be intentional about the factors you focus on, optimizing them as you collect data and your business grows. Remember, different metrics work for different brands. Consider what works for you and, most importantly, your customers.
Consumers’ Conceptions of Brand Experience
The way consumers view your brand can make or break your success. If you don’t make a point to consider your customers in everything you do, it’ll be hard to succeed. Based on a 2009 [study published by the American Marketing Association](https://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/mygsb/faculty/research/pubfiles/4243/Brand Experience and Loyalty_Journal_of _Marketing_May_2009.pdf), there are four major brand dimensions that the consumer encounters.
The first dimension involves the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. Marketing campaigns have the ability to affect consumers at a deeper level, even if they don’t use all five. Understanding the different methods you can use to communicate with your audience is key to building a memorable experience and keep the audience engaged. How is a sensory experience achieved? The use of compelling, interesting visuals is the most impactful method. What emotions do the colors in your brand evoke? Does your brand voice resonate with your customers? How do your products make people feel? Let’s take a look at an example of what sensory reactions a specific company evoked for consumers.
Arguably one of the biggest technology giants of this generation, Apple is an extremely recognizable brand. Apple's sleek products and evolving tech help it stand out against competitors. So how do consumers perceive them?
- Sight & Touch: Consumers are thrilled with the way Apple products look and feel. With each generation of products, the appearance seems just as important as the specs. Releasing products that the customer actually enjoys will only encourage them to keep buying.
- Feel: Consumers noted how Apple makes them feel like they’re smart or included in an intelligent community. The brand’s ability to improve the consumer’s perception of self will unquestionably stand the test of time. It was also recognized as intriguing, a brand that truly draws the audience in. This sentiment is indicative of the second branding dimension.
The second dimension is called affective. This has to do with feelings and sentiments that arise in the consumer in relation to the brand. How do your products make people feel? What memory does your brand stir up in consumers? Let’s take a look at another example.
When you think about credit or debit cards, MasterCard is likely one of the brands that come to mind. Consumers noted how the brand makes them reflect on the finer things in life. They also love how youthful it feels compared to other credit card brands. Creating experiences that affect the consumer in this way will point you towards success.
Intellectual experiences inspire customers to think and problem-solve. They invoke curiosity and truly engage the customer’s mind.
I’m sure everyone has had to build a piece of furniture at some point in their life. But depending on the brand, it can either be a proud moment, or a frustrating one. According to the study, consumers appreciated how comfortable they felt. Any type of home project requires tons of research, quick thinking, and even trial and error. Consumers noted feelings of confidence in their project after their encounter with the brand. Every customer interaction is a great opportunity to provide a positive experience.
The last brand dimension is based on how brands make consumers act. How do consumers interact with your brand? How do they talk about it? What kinds of behavior does it inspire in consumers? This behavior can take many forms. It might be something as simple as talking about the brand to friends and family. It could be wearing a piece of clothing with the brand’s logo on it. Or it could be something more extreme, like getting a tattoo of the brand’s logo. No matter what form it takes, behavior is often the most important indicator of how strong a brand is. That’s because behavior is proof that consumers are actually engaged with the brand on a personal level.
Nike is another global brand that likely everyone is aware of. With a signature logo and activewear style, Nike encourages consumers to be healthy. It was noted that the brand inspired one customer to work out, down to the way their store was set up. This shows that they really executed the experience they present to their customers in an effective way. So what were the results of this study? Consumers ultimately provided their individual conceptions of different brands. There was a trend of the way brands with a strong experience made consumers feel, compared to weaker brands. The stronger brands evoked sensations, feelings, and behaviors. They brought the experience into something more tangible and three-dimensional. On the other hand, the weaker brands abandoned the deeper connections entirely. Walmart, for example, was only recognized for its emphasis on low prices instead of regard for consumer feelings.
Brand Experience and Its Future
The way brands interact with their customers has drastically changed over the past two and a half years. Pre-covid, brands excelled at the in-person experience with pop-ups and community events. When the covid pandemic hit, experiential marketing took a turn. The popularity of virtual experiences has soared. Offices moved to Zoom and WFH (work from home) lifestyles gained traction during lockdowns. People craved interactions that would remind them of what now seemed like a distant memory. Brands had to pivot entirely if they wanted to stay afloat. Thus began the “insperience” movement: bringing those physical experiences straight to your living room. VR and augmented reality has melded with industries like fashion, creating brand collabs that were unheard of before then. So what has this sudden change of pace helped brands achieve? For one, brands were now able to create virtual communities without limitations. Events were held at a capacity impossible in venues or stadiums. It increased brand reach by allowing every customer to participate from all over the world. The rise of reel videos and in-stream media forced brands to think outside the box. Brands were no longer confined to a specific type of customer interaction. The shift to digital experiences essentially leveled the playing field, giving brands a fresh slate to try something new.
The Future Is Here
As establishments begin to reopen, there’s no doubt the in-person experience will pick up again. But, post-covid, there’s also no doubt brands will make decisions a bit differently. The future of a mixed consumer experience is here. Brands will now have to master both in-person and online experiences to cater to every customer. Without it, there’s no way to keep up with the dawn of this new hybrid digital lifestyle. Pretty soon, we’ll all be walking around with VR headsets Ready Player One style. Brand experience is the way a brand makes its customers feel. It's about creating an emotional connection that goes beyond simply selling a product or service. Increasingly, businesses are realizing that brand experience is the future. In our increasingly connected world, customers have endless choices and they're not afraid to switch brands if they're not happy. So it's more important than ever for businesses to create an impactful brand that customers can connect with on a deeper level. There are lots of ways to create a great brand experience, but it all starts with knowing your customers and what they want. Once you know that, you can start creating experiences that will resonate with them and leave a lasting impression. It all starts with you contacting Wizard of Ads® today to bring the future of improved customer and brand experience to your business.