What is brand experience anyway?

Clients are so far ahead of most agencies when it comes to brand experience, says ECD Michelle Schuberg, they’re struggling to find partners who they can meet, date and marry.

After more than a decade of agencies telling clients they need to consider ‘brand experience’, the good news is they finally get it.michelle-schuberg-headshot

However, they don’t just get it… they really get it. Clients are now ahead of most agencies. They’re struggling to find someone to do brand experience well, and effectively deliver it as part of a mature and integrated marketing mix.

A big part of the problem is that the term is still quite loosely defined. So what exactly is brand experience? And what does it involve?

Put simply, it’s everything that people voluntarily opt in to. One way or another, if they choose to click, swipe, attend, stop, talk, view it or engage with it in any way – it’s brand experience.

Another way to describe it is ‘owned media’. In that context its breadth becomes a little more understandable. If you own it, you can leverage it.

This can be anything from front-line staff to online presence to the physical environments customers encounter, to marketing activity they might choose to engage with.Card invitation wedding ceremony flat style with heart flowers.

The list is long and highly integrated, but imagine the potential for a brand if you had all those elements working in unison, not isolation.

While brand experience will never consistently get the pure broadcast eyeballs of traditional advertising, the contact is much richer, more targeted and longer lasting. But brand experience alone won’t have nearly as much impact as a brand experience/traditional media mix.

Above the line raises awareness and introduces a brand, product or message to a broad audience; PR starts discussion about it; brand experience physically engages us with it.

It’s these three elements together that lead us to fall in love with a brand. It’s how we ‘Meet – Date – Marry’.

Paid media = Meet. You see someone at a party. You like the vibe they are putting out and you know you’re attracted to them, but who knows if you’re really compatible? Only time and opportunity will tell. But at the very least, now you know their name.

Earned media = Date. You go on a date, still a little apprehensive, but keen to know more. This is where you learn about their values, their stories and hear their messages. If you like what you hear, you date some more and start paying attention whenever you hear their name come up.

Owned media = Marry. This is where you put a ring on it. You get hands on with the brand and ultimately become part of the family.

But like all marriages, the brand experience needs to be properly nurtured if you want the relationship to last.

To achieve this, clients now require their agencies to deliver a truly integrated solution across many fields of expertise, and ensure a consistent experience across every single touch point.thinkstockphotos-creative-company-tablet-mobile-social-ideas

But in order to deliver a truly integrated solution, agencies need to be truly integrated themselves, with experts collaborating closely across a wide range of disciplines. Anything short of this creates one or more inferior touch points where customers fall away and the ‘marriage’ dissolves.

There is no benefit to throwing a bunch of creatives in a room and expecting them to do anything and everything.

The only way to achieve a seamless experience across everything a customer chooses to click, swipe, attend, stop, talk, view or engage with, is with experts coming together with other experts in true collaboration. All day, every day.

It’s a rhythm that can’t be faked in a few meetings or when one party is supplier to another.

As I mentioned before, more and more clients really get it. And despite several agencies claiming to offer integrated solutions, clients are still waiting on many of them to actually deliver true integration, under one roof.

Michelle Schuberg is executive creative director at Imagination


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