Creating Winning Connected Brand Experiences
10 May 2019
Picture the scene: you walk into a store. You pick up the items you want, put them in your bag, and then walk out. Thank you, goodnight. You’ve left with much more than just a pint of milk and a loaf of bread. The four minutes you spent in the store sparked a whole host of emotions: you’re fascinated by the new experience, satisfied with how simple the whole process was, happy to have taken part in something new, and as a bonus, you get a little rush from feeling like you’re shoplifting, although it is, of course, 100% legal. You can’t wait to tell your friends and family about it.
Just like that, you’ve participated in a rich, immersive and connected Amazon Go experience. This experience isn’t limited to the signage above the door. It makes this brand a symbol of modernity: a brand that facilitates every single interaction between you and them, whether you’re ordering a garden hose online or binge-watching your favourite show on Prime Video. In the past, brands set themselves apart through their visual branding, their dialogue, and their actions. Now, in a world where products are increasingly difficult to tell apart and increasingly easy to copy, brands—both big and small—set themselves apart through their customer experiences. I think that’s a great place to start thinking about how to change your brand.
Get to Know Your Target Customers, Seriously
Male. Born in 1948. Based in London. Has kids. Married multiple times. Likes travelling, sports cars, and fine wines. At first glance, this seems like a precise description, but when you think about it, it could be about the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles… or the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne.
As you can see, the good-old ways of targeting customers don’t tell the whole story. In my opinion, you have to show understanding and take the time to really get to know your target customers. Talk to them, observe them, analyze all available data (online and physical traffic, sales, satisfaction surveys, social conversations, etc.). Learn what their needs are, anticipate their fears, and identify the emotions they experience when they interact with your company. Define what does and doesn’t work. Pinpoint the actions that could generate new, positive emotions. We recently worked with a property developer to rethink the purchasing process for a condo. Buying property is an experience that brings you joy, but can also be the source of intense anxiety. We used customer journey mapping to reduce sticking points and amplify positive emotions.
Define Your Story
I’m convinced that when it comes to branding, everything starts with a story. Think about the great idea that you want to transcend your brand experience. Is it pleasure? A sense of achievement? The common good? Then, think about the emotions you want your customers to experience. The examples I’m sharing below will give you a better idea of what I mean.
La Cage – Sports Bar’s redesigned Club Cage rewards program recognizes the frequency of their customer’s visits, their preferences, and the values of their transactions to surprise them with a tailor-made reward on their fifth visit.
The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation’s new visual identity and brand platform build on human connection by introducing the people behind the cause, helping the public to better understand its mission and encouraging people to take action and donate.
Philippe Dandurand Wine’s fine wine division, Galleon, has successfully transformed a product into an experience by making the wine shopping experience a way for customers to travel around the world.
Define Your System
With the increasingly democratic access to online and mobile technologies, to the Internet of Things (23 billion objects are now connected to the internet), and to massive data mining, you can develop experiences that are more customized, connected and social than ever. However, I would suggest you keep the following three things in mind:
Technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It should be part of a customer journey that also includes physical spaces (e.g. stores). Don’t try to replace human interactions with technology. Instead, focus on finding ways to use technology to make human interactions more efficient and personalized.
Technology works best when we don’t realize that it’s working at all. While advertising aims to create memorable, relevant content that makes companies famous, experience design, on the other hand, aims to make a brand part of its customers’ daily lives, without them realizing.
Information works on a give-and-take basis. The more you ask your customers to share their information, they more they expect in return (customized services, better prices, etc.).
Working Towards a Time Well Spent Certification
Connected brand experiences show that customers are spending time with a brand, and therefore also demonstrate that the brand generates certain emotions. The Center for Humane Technology is advocating for the creation of a Time Well Spent certification (think “Organic,” “Halal,” etc.), that will separate compassionate brands—those whose connected experiences improve their users’ lives—from brands who create distractions and contribute to our addiction to digital devices. On which side of the spectrum does your brand fall?
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