68% of men and 64% of women claim to have felt an emotional connection with a brand. And when that happens, they are much more likely to buy - even at a premium cost - and become loyal customers.
These are just some of the reasons why having a strong brand experience is crucial for any business operating today. While the products you sell do matter, remember that consumers are also buying into your brand experience - your identity, your values, and your differentiation. Does your product fit into their worldview? What will it say about them? Your brand experience will help consumers answer such questions and will guide their purchase decisions, for better or worse.
But what is brand experience, exactly? While it's clear that having a top of mind awareness is essential, figuring out how to make it resonate with your target audience isn't always a clear-cut process.
With that in mind, let's look at the brand experience definition and explore how you can offer an enhanced customer experience through understanding your customers’ journey, improving your marketing efforts, increasing the customer lifetime value, and creating a branding strategy that keeps you ahead of the competition.
Defining Brand Experience
The term brand experience describes the way your current and potential customers interact with your brand. It encompasses everything from the very first time they are exposed to your company to the first contact, the first purchase, and the continuous interactions that take place until the end of the customer lifecycle.
Brand experience is a broad term that can encompass the user experience, customer experience, and even the experiences of people who have never bought anything from your company.
Designing an effective brand experience can’t be accomplished overnight–but when it's done well, it can create a virtually unlimited potential for growth.
Brands like Apple have been designing cutting-edge products for decades, but a big part of their success comes down to the cohesive brand experience they created and the unique relationship with their die-hard audience that has resulted from it.
Lego is another powerful example of how a positive brand experience can help a company stand out from others and make customer acquisition and retention much easier.
Instead of merely selling construction toys, the company was able to create a complete brand experience that extends far beyond the toys category, including amusement parks, movies, video games, and VR, and a variety of other strategies that are aimed at reinforcing their brand identity.
Finally, Red Bull has gone from just another energy drink company to a brand that's now synonymous with extreme sports and unique brand activation projects.
Whether it's skydiving, motorbikes, or even football, Red Bull has taken advantage of their unique positioning to create a unified brand experience tailored to a attract their target audience.
All of these examples show that while there isn't a single way to define what a brand experience should be, the critical aspect is finding forming a unique connection with your audience and then ensuring that the interactions with your brand are consistent and satisfactory at every touchpoint.
Steps to Creating an Engaging Brand Experience
Even though sales and growth are the ultimate goals of any business, sometimes the steps you take when designing a consistent brand experience will have to prioritize long-term results over short-term profits.
You will need to invest time and resources into understanding your audience, and that will serve every decision you make in the future, helping find the right course for the business to ensure that your target audience receives a positive experience at every step.
To help you achieve that, let's look at some of the key steps you should take when designing a brand experience that creates loyal customers.
Understand Your Audience
There's no single golden formula you can apply when designing an effective personalized experience for your customers. In fact, what works exceptionally well with one audience might result in devastating outcomes for the entire company in another situation.
Because of that, the only way to ensure a consistent brand experience that resonates with your audience is to collect customer feedback that you can use to gain valuable insights. Your customers are an important source of truth and their feedback can guide your future steps, and in turn create customer loyalty and positive experiences at every customer journey stage.
You should begin with talking to your best customers and asking them about what drew them to your brand, what they felt you did well, and what might have been missing. You should also talk to people who weren't happy with the brand experience and try to understand what you could have done differently.
Whether through interviews, surveys, or polls, there are many ways to ask specific questions about what you should be doing and generate valuable insights that you can utilize to make data-driven decisions.
You should also monitor your customer activity while using your products or websites and interacting with your brand on social media or customer support channels. These analytics can help you discover surprising customer truths about your audience's behavior and where they face the most issues.
Even though many leaders have found that data without context is just noise, collecting this type of qualitative data can help you answer fundamental questions about your business such as how to improve your products, messaging, or the overall brand experience. And leveraging the numerous touchpoints with your audience is the best possible starting point.
Define Your Brand Identity
As we already discussed, the most successful brands have a very distinct and strong brand that they use in every step of their marketing, sales, and product development efforts. If you want to become an exceptional brand with a loyal customer base that delivers high customer satisfaction, you will need to figure out how to align your brand with your audience.
If you develop a thorough and effective process of talking to your audience, you will have plenty of ideas about who your best customers are, what they like about your brand, and how you could strengthen those associations throughout their customer lifetime.
At the very core, your brand identity should be more than just about your products. Plenty of companies probably offer the same solutions as you, but you need to figure out the key differentiator that can make you stand out and become the most appealing choice to your target market.
In many ways, the brand experience you create will also enhance the product experience, becoming an ingrained part of your audience's identity and becoming a powerful marketing tool in itself.
For example, consider Nike and its unique brand experience that has become a global movement. Millions of people utilize Nike's products and aspirational messaging to push themselves towards their athletic goals.
Tell Powerful Stories
A brand without a story is just a faceless entity. And that's why the best companies are able to tell a story that connects with their audience on a very personal level.
In its essence, it is an embodiment of values, goals, and identities. Stories help express those ideas and ideals in a way that inspires people and gets them to respond, creating a memorable experience that can build large communities.
What's more, powerful stories, especially those based on user-generated content, can make your brand seem more relatable, with regular people sharing your message and encouraging their peers to join the conversations, experiences, and successes that it comes with.
But if you want your stories to have an impact and create a more unified brand experience, you need your digital content to be based on the insights you generate through customer interactions. Without customer analytics and feedback, you will not know how to develop an effective content strategy that resonates with your audience and influences customer behavior.
86% of customers say authenticity is crucial when deciding what brands they like and support. Today's customers don't want to support businesses that place profits above all else, but they are even less enthusiastic about buying from companies that convey certain values and then show blatant disregard for what's right when facing a crisis.
Because of that, you should focus on creating a transparent and authentic brand identity that you maintain throughout the customer journey. Only then can you expect your brand experience to have the desired impact and have your customers happily support your company and become vocal brand ambassadors that help spread your message.
But how can you make transparency a fundamental part of your brand experience?
It all starts with having values and commitments that match what your audience cares about. You need to create a brand that customers want to support, as without that, transparency won't even matter.
Then, you need to showcase the values you embody as a brand, pulling back the curtain around how you organize your company, ensure diversity, develop products, support environmental causes, and go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.
Today's buyers want to know the brands they are working with to be responsible and have a vision for playing their role in solving today's critical global and local problems.
And in the end, they also want to trust that your company will be there for them if something goes wrong and will be willing to own up to mistakes and strive to ensure a smooth and positive customer experience.
Create Memorable Experience
The moment of purchase is a vital part of the brand experience. Making the process frictionless, simple, and convenient can often determine whether the customer will actually follow through on their purchase and how they will feel about their decision post-purchase.
But when designing a complete brand experience strategy, you need to also consider what happens in the lead-up to the buying decision and after the purchase is complete.
If you want to have a unified and effective brand experience, you need to consider how each of those steps can be enhanced and connected together, aligning with your brand image, the values you represent, and the customer expectations you want to match.
The associations with your brand will always be closely tied to the experiences you offer to your audience. And because of that, you should have a plan for connecting the products you sell with experiences that your audience wants and aspires to have.
Having a memorable brand experience is a surefire way to increase your market share, customer retention, and reach.
However, if you want to create a truly unforgettable brand, you must start with customer feedback and customer analytics, as that's the only way to truly understand who your customers are and to create an experience that caters to and meetstheir needs.
With the strategies listed above, you should be able to develop a comprehensive brand experience strategy across all digital channels, creating a frictionless experience for your customers that's crucial for long-term success.