Why Brand Experiences are More Important Than Ever
Every day we’re overloaded with in-your-face advertising, nonstop social chatter, targeted marketing, and unsolicited advice. What we all crave, is connection. This has become increasingly important, especially following the period of isolation many of us faced during the pandemic. Even pre-pandemic, people opted for experiences over material items, particularly among Millennials and Gen Zers.
Today’s consumers want brands that are authentic, support causes they believe in, and will connect with them in a real, engaging way. They seek out brands with values that align with their own and are ready to forge relationships with brands they can trust.
So, what are brand experiences anyway? How can they tell your brand’s story and bring it to life? How can you create a brand experience that connects with customers?
Brand experiences (also known as experiential marketing and brand activations) are the sum of all the sensations, thoughts, feelings, and reactions that individuals have in response to a brand. They’re not confined to a specific channel or media type; they’re about the result: creating a lasting impression.
The objective is always to form a memorable customer experience that generates emotions and facilitates deeper connections. This will help generate customer loyalty and ultimately, the customer will choose your brand, product, or service over others. When people spend time getting to know the values behind your brand, they form positive brand associations and long-term attachments to it. The more positive and memorable the brand activation, the more likely the customer will stay loyal to your brand.
Tell a story
Successful experiential marketing professionals understand the power of storytelling; it’s one of the most effective tools in appealing to people’s emotions. Our brains are wired to devour good storytelling, which is why brands like Disney have always enjoyed a special relationship with their audiences.
Through experiential marketing tactics, you can humanize your brand and find an interesting opportunity to tell its story. To create an engaging story, you need to know what you want your audience to feel and determine the inspiration behind your brand. Once you’ve decided on the story and the emotions you want to elicit, then you can explore brand activation ideas that will connect your audience with your brand.
Participate in an event
Events are a great way for brands to gain exposure through sensory appeal. It’s important to choose an event that your target audience cares about or create one of your own.
During the music festival Coachella, Instagram created selfie-friendly scenes where concert-goers could take photos throughout the festival grounds. Since Coachella is a popular event that many Instagram users love and attend, the social media giant took the opportunity to further enhance the experience for their users. This undercover brand activation delighted their users while also reinforcing the values and voice of the Instagram brand.
React to popular culture
Pop culture presents many opportunities for companies looking to use brand experience to connect with their audiences. Keep in mind that the execution requires careful timing and attention to detail. When done right, it can be quite powerful.
REI created a Zombie Survival Kit infographic during the peak of The Walking Dead’s popularity. They even added an education layer that’s important to their overall brand experience and created “Zombie Preparedness” courses in different locations. This gave people a chance to interact with the brand across digital channels and in real life. Notice that they didn’t say “Walking Dead” in any of their materials, because they didn’t have to. This is a great example of how to ride a pop culture wave without paying the ridiculous licensing fees.
Pull off a stunt
Stunts are a great way to attract attention to your brand. It’s critical to be sure you can pull off the stunt seamlessly and in a way that’s authentic to the brand. Red Bull is renowned for its high-octane stunts that solidify its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings.” The most famous stunt of all time was Red Bull Stratos, a ground-breaking piece of advertising where daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner made the world’s first freefall jump from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, reaching a top speed of 844 mph, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without engine power, all while wearing a Red Bull space suit. The live webcast attracted 52 million views, making it the most-watched live stream in history. People tuned in because they wanted to be part of the moment when history was made. In the full-year following the event, global sales rose by 13% to $5.2 billion.
Brand experience isn’t limited to one channel. Look at Lego: they create hands-on brand experiences in their stores and theme parks. They’ve created movies, online games, books, and extensive digital content for marketing and to enhance the consumer experience.
There are so many ways in which your brand can connect with customers in meaningful ways upon which we haven’t even touched. The most important thing is to create a customer experience that will evoke emotion and will make a lasting impression. If you can come up with a brand activation that will live on in the hearts of your target audience for years to come, they’ll become brand ambassadors.
For a complimentary idea that will help your brand create relevant and memorable brand experiences that build trust and drive sales, get in touch.