Experience, the Forgotten Branding Tool.


I define brand strategy as “an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.” Product is a given and more often than not, reverse engineered into the brand strategy.  Messaging is another given, in that most marketing and advertising budgets are spent there.  The problem I most run into with advertising is it takes on a strategy of its own, independent of brand strategy.  (If there even is a brand strategy.)  Many companies use advertising as their de-facto brand strategy, co-opting the ad campaign tagline as the brand tagline.  Bass-ackwards.

But it is in the experience where many brand builders fall short.  If you are a singular retail brand, you configure and design the experience around the in-store footprint.  Think LL Bean. Or Starbucks. If you are a business selling to other businesses (B2B), it’s your salespeople who create the experience. And that can often be subjective. Salespeople are chameleons, tailoring the pitch to the customer. In service and professional industries, e.g., doctors, accountants, lawyers, the experience is even more haphazard. Lastly, there is online or ecommerce businesses, where the digital experience is one-dimensional and self-serve.

So, one third of brand strategy (experience), I’d venture, is underserved. And it’s a big mistake.

Every brand needs to find a way to connect with their consumers. Much as they would if given the time in a face-to-face relationship. I’m not talking about thank you emails or loyalty points, I’m talking about real interaction. Gifting is nice. A random phone call perhaps. Holiday cards, no thanks. It’s a human thing. Facilitate a human contact. Above and beyond. Think of retailers who knows your name. Or an accountant who emails you when s/he sees an article in the local paper about your kid. Human stuff.