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Brand Experience: Find the Balance Between Customer-Centricity and Brand Growth Strategy

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Brand Experience: Find the Balance Between Customer-Centricity and Brand Growth Strategy - Cover Photo

"Brand is everything, and everything is brand". This one short sentence, a quote from Dan Pallotta, reflects the essence of the idea of a brand very well. It’s both a promise and a realization of the full experience.

A brand that elicits a neutral reaction in the minds of the public and is passively consumed, exposes itself to the risk of losing its identity, lacking a differentiation point and falling prey to competition, which can lead to a complete loss of market relevance.

For this reason, it is worth approaching the topic more methodically and considering implementing the concept of brand experience in your company.

What makes a brand experience?

In a well-designed and consistently run brand, there is no room for coincidence. It is a complete vision, or even a micro-world, created to fascinate, inspire and build positive impressions.

Who doesn't know Coca-Cola? Its product has not changed in over 130 years, and it is still relevant today. This is an excellent example of a brand that has long since stopped treating its customers as buyers and began to perceive them as users.

Their coherent image is based on 4 pillars of analyzing experiences: on-screen, on-shelf, on-occasion and on-pack. To gain maximum market advantage, the famous drink can be purchased at many points of sale (supermarkets, restaurants, cinemas and the like) to offer consumers a wide range of products in various packaging for all occasions.

In addition, the famous red and white logo, the image of Santa Claus created by Coca-Cola advertisements, or marketing campaigns, such as the one where you could personalize the inscription on your bottle, have already become an iconic part of pop culture. What brand would not like to achieve such success?

Custom Coca-Cola bottles
Source: independent.co.uk

For this reason, it can be said that the brand of this famous soft drink is the perfect example in the field of brand experience. Therefore, let’s take a look at the essence of this approach and its underlying elements.

Brand experience is a strategic concept that consists of designing unique sensory experiences and associating elements with a given brand that will encourage its recipients to enter into a lasting and meaningful relationship with it. The ultimate goal is to positively influence the customer's perception each time there is any interaction or consumption. This type of approach builds consumer awareness, generates loyalty and satisfaction.

What do we have to consider when talking about brand experience?

The perception of brand experience is influenced by emotions and impressions resulting from the reception of: 

The brand image

The brand image is influenced by factors such as:

  • brand identity, containing visual identification (logo, colors, typography), but also product & packaging design and a general aesthetic style
  • brand communication, including brand voice, PR, advertising and social media activity
  • brand culture, which will include the brand's mission and values, participation in charity campaigns, as well as employer branding
  • independent opinions and reviews determining purchasing decisions (word of mouth).
Shopping & service processes

In addition to the above, shopping and service experiences are affected by, among others:

  • all impressions of searching for suitable items, checking appropriate parameters and functions, and evaluating a given product
  • providing a comfortable and inviting environment (in the case of a stationary location) or a website boasting an excellent UX
  • sellers or direct customer service agents who can help or advise with their appearance, behavior, tone of voice and great knowledge of the offer
  • personalization of the shopping experience
  • possibility of using various payment, delivery and returns options
  • post-sale customer support at the highest level

and much more.

The product itself

The last element that makes up the brand experience are all impressions and emotions related to the product, both before and after the purchase. It can be understood as:

  • the customer's perception of the quality of the product
  • differentiation of the offer
  • declared product’s usability
  • the degree of fulfillment of the obligation in accordance with the brand promise
  • adaptation to current trends and the like.

Moreover, experience with a product can be triggered directly, through physical contact with the product at the point of sale, or indirectly, when the offer details are displayed virtually or in an advertisement.

However, it should be remembered that these areas constantly interpenetrate and must be treated in a holistic way. All because the concept of brand experience is not really about a brand but about the consumer.

Your client (and not your brand) needs to be a centerpiece

It's not hard to see that business and customer acquisition is no longer about bragging about your product or your company. The main focus is now on customers, their experience and success. For this reason, it's time to move to a customer-centric culture.

Companies focused on customer-centricity spend a lot of time understanding their customers, by collecting feedback (through surveys or interviews), characterizing and diagnosing their clients’ biggest pains and expected gains (based on conclusions from the collected data), as well as empathy, to then use this knowledge to design better experiences for them.

Here are the key areas that you should take care of in order to start operating in accordance with the customer-centric approach:

Take care of a sense of community

The idea of community is pursued by brands both physically, for example in stationary stores, but also virtually, in social media and mobile applications. Companies prepare special spaces for their clients where they can study together, play sports, train in certain activities or discover something together.

One of the brands that perfectly fits this concept is Lego. This Danish toy company provides customers with a great experience before, during and after purchasing. It has designed many touchpoints with the brand that evoke positive feelings and behaviors. Importantly, you can be part of the Lego community even without buying their products. Lego stores and the famous Legolands offer, from time to time, free products and events. Additionally, the company also creates a variety of movies, video games and virtual reality experiences.

Redefine convenience with technology

Technology greatly expands our range of possibilities when it comes to taking the sense of comfort to the next level. Advanced technology and analytics of enormous amounts of data are expected to contribute to providing a personal and even educational experience.

7Fresh is a Chinese new generation supermarket chain from the food retail sector. Its innovative approach to serving customers is to introduce smart shopping carts into the store that guide consumers between the aisles. Special mirrors automatically show where the product comes from and what nutritional value it contains. In addition, 7Fresh has an application with WeChatPay mobile payments, a 30-minute delivery service and a restaurant where products purchased by customers can be prepared on the spot.

Go beyond standard personalization

Today, every brand is trying to personalize the customer experience. This is clearly a successful strategy and has become a new standard. To win the market, you have to take it a step further and go “hyper”.

Hyper-personalization combines predictive technology with data collected from points of contact with customers to provide a much deeper understanding of your audience. The end result is that your visitors don't have to make any effort when interacting with your brand and it’s a purely pleasant experience for them.

Netflix, one of the most popular streaming platform, is committed to providing a unique experience for its users by recommending TV series and movies that may interest them based on their viewing history.

Using machine learning algorithms and data to enrich the personalization engine, Netflix creates different variants of trailers and displays the one that will appeal to the individual user, thus maximizing their interest and increasing the CTR.

An example can be the incredible success of the Stranger Things series, where data was used to select different graphics or images relating to the same episode but presented to different Netflix users. This was a significant step beyond the classic recommendations, focusing on the unique interests and preferences of the individual.

Source: Artwork Personalization at Netflix

How to turn brand experience into brand growth

The growth of your brand depends on the role you play in the lives of your customers, whether you are important to them and if you are consistent in your message and values.

The current technological and competitive landscape has spread your audience across multiple touchpoints, and you need to adopt an omnichannel approach to keep your message consistent and make sure you don't miss anything related to your brand.

Companies with a customer-centric perspective are increasingly moving away from simple monitoring of past events to a more intelligent approach, supported by predictive analytics and dedicated technologies. This way, they can look more broadly and thoughtfully into the future, which will allow them to prioritize activities and spend their money more prudently.

A brand is one of the most important levers for a company's growth, but the main problem is that it is immaterial and is influenced by many factors. Simply tracking metrics and basic indicators are not enough. CTRs are going down, but why aren't people clicking on your ads? Why are customers visiting your stationary store less likely to buy than those who prefer your e-commerce? Traditional brand tracking won't answer any of these questions for you.

Most often, scattered consumer data is non-retrospective, biased, static, and not set in context. To get to the root cause of a brand's development—wherever it is—you need specific tools for brand and customer experience management.

Start by applying omnichannel data centralization, which involves collecting all owned data, from mobile and web to physical stores, and enriching it with third-party data, for example from social media.

A helpful feature in organizing information is also the creation of a 360-degree unified customer profile that tracks and stores historical behavior, including product views, purchases and marketing communication applied to a given client. Ensure that all your interactions and data collection are recorded and analyzed in real time as this helps you spot opportunities and act quickly to seize them, as well as stay ahead of potential threats.

Based on the correct and in-depth analysis of obtained data, you can discover many new opportunities for engagement and precisely define the places where your customers are most likely to interact with you. The way we buy, find information and seek experiences is constantly changing, and adaptability is more important today than ever before. By following the spirit of the times and the changing needs of your customers, support your brand's experience and, consequently, increase your growth.

Imprint your brand in the general awareness of the audience

Strong brands are built in such a way that people buy more & pay more, make faster purchasing decisions, and stay loyal to the company's offering until they become its social spokesmen.

Consumers pay attention to the smallest detail about their experiences with brands. Each moment of this interaction helps build consumer perceptions.

Thanks to a properly designed brand experience, you will discover new, unused contact points for development, you will encounter negative aspects that you need to minimize, as well as those that help clients achieve their goals and ultimately build lasting brands in their minds.

Remember that even if you can't control your customers or potential customers, you can influence their perception. This gives you more power than you think. Make sure you use this important resource to your advantage.