Over the last years, we’ve all witnessed how all companies have become media companies. In order to find a way to interact and engage customers, brands have started developing massive content strategies to rank high in search results and to build awareness. This phenomenon has many implications on the way companies compete for attention, which we can break down as follows:
- Firms have realised that all content matters. Companies have become much better aware of the importance of PR as opposed to advertising as any types of content (not only paid content) can influence customer’s perceptions. As a result, companies are using a variety of content strategies to build the right associations between a firm and its products, with content typologies that span from entertainment to education, not only sales copy.
- High-volume content strategies can be hard to sustain. The downside of a content strategy is that companies can get stuck in a loop of churn-and-burn, where new posts on different platforms need to be published daily in order to sustain momentum and traffic growth. This can be very resource-consuming and can risk distracting a firm from more meaningful goals. As a result, companies are now moving towards a different marketing model which does not rely so heavily on content creation but on experiential branding.
In short, an experiential approach to branding consists in letting your customers “feel” what it is like to be a brand’s customer, by experiencing first hand all of the benefits that he brand entails.
On the other hand, what is difficult to do is to put in practice an experiential strategy, by devising a practical approach to delivering a brand’s experience. This is why in this post we’re going to discuss 5 approaches that will let your customers understand how to feel your brand.
- Surprise and Delight, AKA the A-HA moment
- Always on Beta
- Storytelling and Purpose
1. Make Your Customers Play
A first approach is simply developing playful experiences that get customers to approach a brand with an entirely new mindset, the one of game and play. This is not only a refreshing approach to developing brand awareness but it’s also a way to build brand associations with fun, relaxation and excitement that come with games and leisure. In retail “playing” opportunities can be delivered by “a day in the life” activities which can provide a chance to live in someone else’s shoes for a little while. Gaming has become a new normal in industries such as fashion and creativity and in this article, we delve more into this topic by discussing 12 things fashion brands have learnt by developing gaming apps.
2. Surprise and Delight AKA Build AH-HA Moments
Sometimes experiential branding can simply come for efficient and optimised shopping. Operational efficiency is one of the quickest ways to make a strong impression, but it doesn’t end there. In many cases, customer service has a chance to surprise and delight customers when a company shows that it can go above and beyond in meeting the demands of customers trying to get a problem solved. In this context, we can use the expression “AH-HA Moment” to suggest that memorable and meaningful moments usually come from situations where customers experience a sense of both wonder and understanding. Making a customer live a sense of childhood magic mixed with a new insight into a product or service can be a really strong bond that differentiates your brand for years to come.
3. Use Nostalgia To Make Customers Feel Young Again
Talking about childhood wonder can be a great way to introduce the next approach to developing an experiential brand. Tapping into nostalgia is a great way to tap into the customer’s most important “coming of age years” (17-22), where generations have strong, shared images of what it meant to grow up in a particular decade. Nostalgia can be summoned in a variety of ways, spanning from advertising to retail layout, to product design. Nostalgia is a helpful approach to those brands who want to create an opportunity to play or interact more joyfully with a brand, by making customers feel young again and allowing them a “license” to do something which they may have not done in a long time.
4. Be Always on Beta
Even if we were to list 100 different experiential strategies the truth is that there is no one strategy that can work for your business, each approach needs to be adapted and tested. This is why being “always on beta” is a really good mindset to pursue, it will allow us to realise that if we want to deliver meaningful and memorable brand associations we need to always be open to taking risks and learning from our mistakes. We can only pursue perfection if we are actually taking the time, and putting in the effort to slowly improve our processes by testing and experimenting.
5. Use Storytelling and Purpose
A strong lead in experiential branding is connected to storytelling. Building stories that can make a customer feel part of a greater cause, of a larger team, out to change the world, together. A product or a service, is in this sense, just a gateway to a much longer journey that a brand and a customer make together. This journey involves values that can be connected to identity, society, culture, art and much more. A story creates a narrative, which imbues each product with a purpose. As a result, the product becomes a tool that symbolises an alignment of values between the customer and the brand, as it was a mirror of one’s identity.
As concluding remarks we’d like to provide a few recommendations on how you can develop a branding strategy that allows you escape from the content-creation loophole,
- Curate with a Purpose. You don’t need to spend your time creating an endless list of churn and burn content, developing a curation approach can deliver great results while not requiring the same degree of effort. Less can definitely be more when it comes to content.
- Be Driven By Visitor Experience. Remember that it’s difficult to see the value you are delivering as a brand by only pursuing the perspective of your company. Value is something that is entirely perceived from the eyes of your customer, so putting yourself in hisher shoes is a great way to see what value-adding elements your company has to offer.
- Focus on a Human Approach. The human component or the “service component” of your company is what usually adds the most amount of experiential value, when possible, make sure that your firm can provide opportunities to experience that ‘human touch’ that can really make a difference.
- Build Experiential Journeys. Remember that customers are on a quest to find the perfect solution for a problem they are facing. To help them succeed make sure that as you plot out your customer journey you are able to identify experiential touchpoints and build a strong brand feel.
We hope you found this article useful, here at 440industries we have a wealth of content that can help you in building experiential marketing strategies. Take a look below if other articles from our blog can be interesting for you.