What is brand experience?
It’s the reason you pay for the premium version of Spotify but can't remember the last time you logged into Pandora.
It’s the reason you feel comfortable staying in a stranger’s home you rented on Airbnb.
It’s what compels you to open an email from your favorite retailer while deleting so many others.
Brand experience is the sum of every interaction your customers have with your company—from the first time you caught their attention to the last time they contacted your support team.
An exceptional brand experience can earn you global recognition, while a poor one can cause your company to fade into oblivion.
Without a memorable brand experience, you’re just a commodity.
When you think of brand experience, you might immediately think of a company’s most recognizable features—the Nike logo, the MasterCard slogan or the Geico gecko. That’s all part of it, but in an increasingly digital, customer-centric world, brand experience is more than that.
“Great brands are a combination of promise and proof,” said Hector Pottie, creative director of Method London, in a Medium article. “Mostly proof.”
In other words, brands must consistently deliver on the promises they make. You can present your company in the very best light, but if your sales process is clunky, your service is inconsistent or you don’t respond to valid complaints, your brand experience will suffer.
Your brand experience should be optimized for every stage of the buyer’s journey, from awareness and consideration to decision and delight.
In the awareness stage, you need to consider what would trigger someone to start searching for a solution and make sure your messaging and follow-up communications address those pain points. In this early stage, your prospects should be getting to know your company just as much as your product.
To summarize Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle framework, they need to understand why you do what you do before they’ll care about how you do it and what you do.
Once someone is considering a purchase, product comparisons, video demos, case studies and reviews become an important part of the brand experience.
Your pricing model, contract terms and delivery are critical to the decision stage. And once someone becomes a customer, a great brand experience can turn them into one of your best advocates—or your worst detractor.
Brand experience used to be easier to control. Top companies would spend months carefully planning an ad campaign, invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into 30-second commercials and generally have the last word, assuming they sold a quality product.
Today, when a single tweet can be heard around the world within an hour, the brand experience happens minute by minute. And every message matters.
While the digital age has democratized the brand experience in many ways, there are still plenty of elements you can control.
First, you need to define your brand identity by deciding how you want to be known and what experiences you want to create.
You need a clear mission and vision for your company before you can develop a meaningful brand experience. This isn’t something you should create in a vacuum, but with input from everyone who plays a critical role. That includes your executive team, sales leaders, service technicians or product designers and customer service representatives.
Once you’ve established your mission and vision, you’ll need to consider these five important brand elements:
As Shopify puts it, a unique selling proposition is a statement that sets you apart from your competitors. It’s the way you position your brand, whether you want to be known for having the best value, the most variety, the highest quality or something else.
For Rothy’s shoes, it’s “style meets sustainability,” reflecting the brand’s use of recyclable materials to create eye-catching designs.
Madison Reed boasts custom hair coloring at home.
And agile talent platform Toptal boasts hiring the top 3% of freelance talent.
Your logo is one of the most powerful visual identifiers of your brand. The best logo designs are bold, clean and easily recognizable anywhere. They’re versatile and look just as strong on a billboard as they do on your website.
Your colors, fonts and brand guidelines are also important considerations. The colors you select can evoke a variety of emotions, so choose carefully. Shades of blue convey a sense of calm, trust and reliability, while orange is often associated with positivity and enthusiasm. The way you use complementary and contrasting colors matters, too. If you want someone to click on a call-to-action, you need to make sure it will stand out.
Outlining these elements in your brand guidelines will ensure everyone uses them properly and consistently.
Most consumers today start their research online, and many might never even visit your physical location. Your website is your welcome mat to the world—a critical part of your brand experience. It should be optimized for search and designed to make the user experience as effortless as possible.
Looking for inspiration? Check out these examples of some of the best B2B websites.
Your social media presence is a big part of your brand experience because it’s one of the easiest ways for customers to interact with you. This isn’t something you should delegate to an intern. You need an experienced, dedicated social media manager who will stay up to date with the latest trends, keep customers engaged and respond to negative comments promptly and with empathy.
Videos are a big part of the decision-making process for many consumers, and they’re continuing to gain momentum. More than half of customers say they want to see more videos from brands they support, according to HubSpot. And by 2021, 82% of consumer internet traffic will be video, according to Cisco.
Video marketing can boost your brand experience in many ways. You can use it to tell the story of your brand and your mission. You can use it to capture your team’s personality or highlight something you’re doing for the greater good. And when it comes to demonstrating the value of your products or services, showing beats telling every time. If you can get customer testimonials on camera, it’s as good as gold.
Customer expectations of brands have never been higher. As Mark Kilens, VP of content and community at Drift, shared in a recent LinkedIn post, he expects brands to “have a point of view, be willing to make a stand, listen to and care about customers, apologize when it makes a mistake, learn from its mistakes, treat employees with respect and compassion, be involved in local communities and be a steward of its beliefs.”
If you haven’t taken an honest look at your company’s brand experience lately, now is the time. You may need to update your branding and messaging to reflect new service offerings or new acquisitions. You may be realizing you’re in an increasingly crowded market sector, and it’s becoming more difficult to stand out among your competitors.
Whatever the case, here are a few steps you can take now to boost your brand experience.
You’ll never know what your customers really think of your brand unless you ask. The Net Promoter Score is a great way to gauge perceptions of your brand. It asks customers a few simple questions, including how likely they are to recommend you to a friend, and assigns a score based on the responses. Platforms like TechValidate and Qualtrics make this easy to do. They’re also a fantastic way to get case studies and customer testimonials.
Although your buyer personas are fictional representations of your real customers, they should be a living, breathing document that reflects them.
If you haven’t updated your buyer personas in a year or more, this is a good time to review them and make sure they are still accurate and up to date. You might learn through discussions with your sales team that a particular buyer who once made up a significant portion of your best business is no longer a good fit. Or, you may notice a particular role that wasn’t previously involved in the sales process is becoming more influential. Your brand experience needs to resonate with the type of buyers you want to attract most—so make sure you feel confident in who they are. In addition to surveying your customers, it’s a good idea to conduct a few customer interviews to update your personas with new information.
Listening to social media conversations on your own channels and industry-specific groups or hashtags can be eye-opening. This can give you a lot of insight into the challenges, goals, preferences and communication styles of your ideal customers. What inspires them? What publications do they read? What kinds of things do they find funny? Just observing their interactions can sometimes tell you even more than they’ll share with you over the phone.
Developing your company’s brand requires you to ask big, uncomfortable questions. Why does your company exist? What do customers really think of you, and how do you want to change that perception?
Inviting other stakeholders into these discussions to get their input will help you create a well-rounded brand experience.
When you’ve established a strong brand, you’re eager to share it with the world.
But as you can see, there are a lot of different elements to consider. You need logos and brand guidelines. You need eye-catching design and clear, enticing messaging that will help you stand out from the crowd.
This is where Kuno Creative can help. In addition to helping you establish your brand identity, our creative team can design the branding assets you need to become well-known among your target audience.
Our services include brand development, website strategy, video marketing, custom content, social media strategy and more.