Brand Experiences Create Lasting Connections with Consumers

It’s Friday night, you’re deciding on a restaurant for the evening, and you want some pasta. There’s a chain restaurant a few miles away, where a plate will cost you between $10 and $15. There’s also a small, privately-owned restaurant a little further away, where the pasta will cost upward of $50.

Why would you go to the more expensive restaurant?

The experience.

At the chain restaurant, the food and service will be fine, but there is nothing special about it. The servers will be polite, but they don’t want you to hang around because they make their money by turning tables. The food will taste as you expect, but the ingredients will not be special, and the sauces were likely prepared from packages.

At the smaller restaurant, the servers will be pleasant, knowledgeable, and efficient. You will not feel rushed as you eat. The food will be prepared with more care, the ingredients will be fresher, and the meal will be presented with care. So, the overall experience is worth the extra money.

But guess what? The chain restaurant also provides an experience. You may just want a quick meal. Or the thought of your entire bill – with tip – being less than a single entrée at the other place may appeal to you at the time. Regardless of your choice, it is your knowledge (and expectation) of the brand experience that will help you make it.

What is Brand Experience?

The short and straightforward answer is that brand experience is everything connected to your brand. It is any interaction that a person has with your brand, whether in the real world, the digital realm, etc.

Often, with so many marketing terms bouncing around, there is some natural confusion between brand experiences, brand events, and experiential activations. Think of it this way: brand events (things like trade shows) and experiential activations (consumer-facing engagements) are part of the brand experience, while the brand experience does not have to include the other two. It can, but it’s not a requirement.

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Okay, you may be thinking, “Brand experiences … I remember when we used to call that advertising, but whatever.” Well, that’s not entirely true.

Traditional advertising is geared exclusively toward brand awareness. While that is absolutely critical for your marketing plan, it is only a component of the brand experience. Brand experience goes further to include the emotional impact your brand has on a consumer. Thoughtful brand experiences are most likely to convert customers into loyal brand ambassadors. It’s a holistic view of how a consumer engages with your brand, and how your brand can engage with consumers.

Controlling the Brand Experience

Just because emotion plays an essential role in brand experiences, does not mean that you are at the whims of your consumers. Just as you control the message of your advertising and marketing, you also can help guide and dictate the emotional impact of your brand’s experience. 

Since the brand experience incorporates all of your marketing and outreach efforts – including digital communications, trade shows, events, experiential activations, and meetings – these channels should all be utilized to communicate the benefits of your products and services and your commitment to your consumers.

To effectively engage your consumers, you need to understand them fully. To gain this knowledge, utilize all available consumer research and data sources you have available. For example, several digital marketing tactics can help you gather invaluable insights into your consumers, including:

  • Email marketing

  • Retargeting campaigns

  • Digital advertising

  • Social media (for both communication and advertising)

  • SEO strategies

  • Event apps

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Once you gain this understanding, take some time to look at the results and ask some questions. For example:

  • Which of your customers is likely to attend an event or experiential activation? Which consumers are most likely to post these experiences on social media or become brand advocates? Are there partnerships you could create within these consumers (such as finding brand activists,  influencers, or sponsors)?

  • How can your consumers be broken down into smaller audience segments to help you further understand them? What are the specific wants and needs of each group? What issues are most and least important to them? How can your brand specifically address these challenges? What opportunities exist that can benefit your brand?

  • How do your consumers break down by generation? Does your messaging need to differ to these various groups, i.e., do you “speak” to Millennials differently than to Gen X, etc.? How do the preferred communication methods differ amongst these groups?

  • How do your established marketing initiatives and company objectives stack up against the needs of your consumers? Do they need to be adjusted to accommodate the realities of your current customers?

Consider your messaging and how it will play to your intended audience. Salesy language that worked even just a few years ago now has the potential to drive consumers away. Try to position your message in a way that highlights your brand’s benefits to the audience and what your products and services can do for them.

Say Goodbye to Silos

A brand experience can create long-lasting relationships with your consumers, but only if they are thoughtfully orchestrated. That means that every component of your marketing (and sales, C-suite, etc.) needs to work in unison. This means that, for example, your social media elements need to support your events, and your events need to support your social media efforts.

How do you achieve this? You have to view all of these efforts as essential elements of a singular goal. Naturally, there will be some variety with your marketing efforts. For instance, you wouldn’t send the same message to a B2B trade show crowd as you would to a consumer-facing experiential activation. The point is that your energies are all aligned and working in collaboration.

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One way to guarantee this alignment is to coordinate your messaging to ensure the same message is getting out across all channels. With enough repetition, your audience will recognize your communications immediately.

You also need to utilize the most effective means of communication for your target audience. For example, your Millennial and Gen Z consumers may prefer Twitter while Gen X likes Facebook, and Baby Boomers utilize email. Make the best use of these touchpoints to deliver meaningful messages that have the most significant impact.

Maintain Engagement

An essential element of the brand experience is continued engagement. Just because a trade show or experiential activation comes to an end does not mean that your engagement efforts around those events need to stop. The wealth of content created by these occasions can bolster the engagement efforts around your brand experience.

Some possibilities to share with your consumers include:

  • Specific highpoints from the event that relate to your presence

  • Video highlights of your brand’s speakers and/or presentations

  • Utilize influencer relationships and promote their takeaways from the event

  • Pictures of visitors to your exhibit

  • Quotes from lecturers and information sessions, especially if your brand is involved

With a slow, thoughtful distribution, you will be able to utilize this content for a significant period after the event has concluded.

Creating the best possible brand experience means taking a considerate approach to how your consumers and attendees interact with your products and services. If you are looking for a partner to assist with conceptualizing and executing exhibits and experiential activations that connect to your brand’s experience, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.

TTG Marketing