In a world in information overload, it’s not through rational stimuli that we can grasp our audience’s attention, it’s through leveraging an emotional reaction, an instinctual connection and a feeling of familiarity.
This is in a nutshell what experiential branding is. The question is how to obtain it? Moreover, in an industry like the fashion industry, which is focused on lifestyle rather than utility creating a stirring emotional effect on consumers seems particularly challenging.
Other industries may have an easier life in achieving an emotional connection with their audience. According to Maslow’s pyramid of needs, in fact, humans fulfil their desires following a certain order. At the bottom of the pyramid, we find physiological needs and primary needs, like security and safety, whereas the top we find the need to reach our full potential and self-actualisation. The fashion industry sells social equity, and as such tend to be located in the higher tiers of this architecture.
In short, making the purchase of a garment a matter of life and death is not simple. Yet, some brands are able to do just that.
However, such goals cannot be achieved overnight. On the contrary, it’s only through a process of continuous optimisation that a brand can develop a pyramid of value which peaks in the delivery of the aspirational values.
In this post, we are going to discuss how to approach the creation of a signature brand experience through a managerial step-by-step process.
Before embarking into this journey a fashion brand needs to design a have a clear communication focused on what the brand does and how it helps it, customers. Branding in our opinion should always be rooted in behaviour and a practical claim on how a product helps in solving a problem (albeit a social one) is a great place to start. Once it’s clear what your firm does and how it serves its customers then you’re ready to follow the brand experience blueprint discussed in the following sections of this post.
In this post we are going to discuss:
The first stage towards building an emotional reinforcement to your brand is starting from actually delivering practical help. Service efficiency is the first, unavoidable step in reaching your goals. Examples of how your firm should be doing this are listed below:
It’s the simple things at times that make the most difference like the popular ‘large blue bags’ at IKEA. It’s clear that achieving this first milestone relies on the two sides of contemporary fashion retail: technological factors and human factors, which will be discussed in section three.
As you develop the technological infrastructure that sustains and supports your brand you will start to access data. This is essential to develop the next step in our strategy, which will be discussed in the next paragraph.
Before discussing more operational aspects of how you can develop an emotional connection to your consumers, let’s see what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are positively affected by an experiential branding\emotional branding strategy.
Now that the benefits of creating a bespoke and emotional brand experience provide unquestionable benefits lets see how this can be achieved.
How do you create emotional memories for your customers and attach them to your brand’s experience?
As we’ve discussed in this post: Experiential Branding and the New Horizons of Retail Management creating an emotional memory is all about creating an out-of-the-ordinary experience. We may not remember what we had to eat a month ago, but if we dined with a celebrity we’d surely remember every minute detail of it. In the popular words of Maya Angelou ‘people forget what you say, but remember how you make them feel’.
Rewarding your customers is a way to stand out of the ordinary. Better yet, surprising them is a great way to go, if you want to create a memory for them. The very idea of surprising your customers is very general and may need further clarification. Surprising means overdelivering on expectations. In order to understand expectations, we need to understand the particular customer profiles who interact with our brand. In this sense, building towards experiential and emotional branding starts with having a clear map of both who are our customers and what utility they draw from our products.
Achieving this third step is about creating a personal, bespoke customer experience. Aspirational values delve deep into the particular ambitions of the individual and change from person to person. As such this step entails for mass personalisation.
On the one hand, a firm needs to approach a sufficiently wide market segment. This is the last stretch of your brand strategy, as it focuses on developing an customer relationship management system which is ultimately designed to make every customer an advocate of the brand.
In this stage, a fashion firm will need to create a connection between the technological and infrastructural assets of the company and the human component of the brand delivery.
Ultimately the brand’s experience is a synthesis of all the tangible and intangible perceptions developed by a customer during before, during and after purchase experience.
Let’s finish this post by discussing some advice we can bring to the workplace.
Here are a few take-homes we recommend if you want to make your brand less visual and more experiential:
Creating a healthy company culture and investing in training is a viable way to become a better employer and in the words of Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Media if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.
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