How to build an experience into your branding


Last week I talked about building branding that goes far beyond a simple logo and lets your customers have an experience with your brand. This week I will dig a little deeper and break down how to achieve this.

In his book The Experience Economy, Joseph Pine breaks the process down into Commodities, Goods, Services and Experiences.

Here is an example of how this works using cake:

1) Baking a cake from scratch (Commodity) £3
2) Baking a cake using a mix (Goods) £6
3) Buying a cake from the bakery (Service) £15
4) Getting a cake with a themed party (Experience) £150

As the complexity increases so does the price.

In order for the customer experience to be effective and fulfilling, you have to keep them surprised, making the whole experience so enjoyable that they just flow through it.

When you visit Disneyland to experience the Magic Kingdom, you suspend your disbelief. You don't stop to think that these actors in costumes and how much is everything costing, you go back to being a little child believing in Princesses and toys it coming to life. You see the whole thing as an invaluable experience that you and your family will talk about for the rest of their lives.


How does this relate to branding?

When building a brand, consider everything from the logo, colour palette and typography up to how the staff should look, how they should behave, what signage is included, what memorabilia can people take away?

Dive deeper and brand the customer experience. Barista's writing your name on your cup at Starbuck's isn't just because it's fun, it's a deliberate action that is built into their branding.

Here a few actionable steps to consider:

1) Make the experience flow

Firstly the experience must be intuitive and easy to follow, your customers shouldn't need to think too hard about what to do. This comes down to a combination of planning to make sure everything is straightforward and eliminating an unnecessary distractions or negative cues that can interrupt the experience. There is no litter at Disneyland or 'Please wait here' signs at Starbucks - nothing to break the spell.


2) Engage the senses:

Once you have smoothed out everything, its time to start engaging the senses: Taste, Touch, Smell, Sight and Sound. Let's look at this in relation to Starbucks.

This is all down to the freshly brewed coffee. Different roasts, blends, syrups, milks, snacks and foods. They all play a vital role in the customer experience. This is made all the more evocative with descriptions like this for the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte: "Signature espresso blended with the unmistakable spices of fall – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove – smooth with steamed milk and topped with delectably sweetened whipped cream."

All around are tactile things to put your hands on. Coffee beans, bags of roasted beans, sackcloth, craft paper, chalkboards. It is all made to look and feel natural, handcrafted and authentic.

This is one of the most evocative parts of any coffee shop. The smell of roasted beans and freshly ground coffee is one of the most distinctive and seductive. Combine this with freshly baked pastries and it's overwhelming delicious.

To create the authentic feel you'll find lots of handcrafted textures and signage. Natural tones of green, black and brown are complimented by exposed brickwork and rustic surfaces. Handwritten labels, screen printed signs and exquisite packaging, all make the whole experience very aesthetically pleasing.

Carefully curated nondescript music plays in the background. It is occasionally interrupted by the sound of roasted beans getting freshly ground or milk being steamed. Underneath there is a bed of happy chatter - relaxed customers, happy staff and fingers on keyboards.


3) Give away some Memorabilia to take away

The final part is for the customer/client to be able to take something away with them to remind them of the experience. Stickers, badges, photos, custom memorabilia are all perfect. Stylish objects that they will keep, be seen by others and will raise discussions about where they came from.

A fantastic example of this is the exquisite Hustle T-Shirt by Sean McCabe. When I bought one, not only did I get a beautiful handwrapped package, but inside were cards, stickers, badges and a letterpressed coaster. All for free!




How to incorporate this into your own branding

How can you give your clients such an immersive and awarding experience that they become clients for life and can not wait to tell their friends how great you are? Here are some questions to consider that may spark inspiration.

  • Is there a theme for what you do? If not, is there a theme you could create?
  • How are your clients get to meet you? Where will you meet them for discussions? Is it physical or digital
  • Have you made sure that all negative queues have been removed? Have you tidied up all the errors fixed typos remove unnecessary instructions and streamline the whole process so is smooth and intuitive?
  • What memorabilia gifts or things that they could take away as reminders of the experience? This should be an easy one for you designers and branding experts out there. Maybe you too could give away badges stickers cards T-shirts etc
  • Is there any opportunity to engage in any of the senses? This might be difficult when it comes to working remotely, however instead of writing them an email could you record a video message? Maybe you could send them a gift or a coupon as a token of your appreciation of working together?


An example of this in action.

I was recently chatting with a client who is a wedding photographer. He had just finished a shoot with a couple and was about to prepare their wedding album when I asked if there was a way to make it more memorable?

It turns out that they both loved the movie Up, so I suggested that he give them a small album ahead of schedule that they could take on honeymoon (as their official one wasn't due until they got back). But instead of his usual album, to get one that looked exactly like the 'Our Adventure Book' scrapbook from the movie and fill it with some of their photos.

It was the perfect thank you gift, one they will cherish for a lifetime.

Let's work together

I build this type of thinking into my branding process so I can help my clients deepen the relationships with their customers. I know that when brands have deeper experiences with their customers, the customers come back more often and when they do, they bring their friends. This raises their brand awareness and is what separates the brands I work with from their rivals, leading to them dominating the market place and increasing sales and revenue.

Let's work together on building experience into your brand.

Thad Cox1 Comment