The concept of brand and brand marketing is still the same as it always has been: Get someone to like you, encourage them to buy your stuff and then persuade them to keep buying more of your stuff. The most prevalent factors in achieving brand loyalty have always revolved around the simple things such as price, location, customer service and quality. However, the platform in which individual brands look to achieve results has changed dramatically in recent years.
The explosion of online shopping – giving the consumer access to a worldwide marketplace, along with rapidly advancing technology… allows the buyer to ‘experience’ a product in a virtual capacity. This means that the above factors of price etc. may no longer enough to demand strong brand loyalty. Now it’s all about connectivity, familiarity and making life easy for the customer.
Companies are competing in a far more complex marketplace these days and need to be much smarter in their marketing strategies. It is no longer even just about brand identity, awareness and loyalty. Businesses need to build ‘brand affinity’ through ‘brand experience’.
Brand experience relies, not just on visual prompts but by encompassing all sensations and feelings; by generating behavioural responses evoked by brand-related stimuli. A brand needs to create an authentic and memorable ‘experience’. It needs to promote an emotional response in its audience – through strong design, concise brand identity and direct and focussed communications.
An effective brand experience will create valuable interactions between the brand and/or products and services and the user.
A meaningful experience will increase an individual’s brand affinity.
A successful brand experience will deliver on a brand’s promise by proving the benefits of a product or service to a particular individual.
To create a meaningful connection between brand and consumer, business owners and brand marketers need to think outside the box. It’s no longer just about advertising. TV, print, media and on-line strategies are certainly still relevant as part of the whole marketing plan but people want to also ‘experience’ a brand in-situ. They want personalised and immersive brand experiences.
Successful consumer engagement begins with innovation. A well-designed, sensory experience targeted to the right audience in the right environment will appeal to a whole new group of consumers. It will also build relationships, create devotees and ultimately drive sales. The quality of the experience itself will determine the amount of engagement or brand affinity it produces.
Events, experiential activations, in-store promotions, trade shows, virtual and augmented reality, creative pop-ups, installations and the like which offer up the opportunity for meaningful interactions between brand and consumer should be paramount in a business’s marketing agenda. The more creative, interactive and immersive the experience for the user, the more an individual will engage with and remember a brand.
Now, more than ever, marketers need to look for new, creative and sophisticated approaches. A brand needs to focus on engagement to differentiate and stand out from the rest. Importantly, it also needs to deliver on its promise. Audiences are far more discriminating these days and they are quick to let anyone and everyone know if they feel a brand doesn’t stand up, they will soon take their custom elsewhere (… and very likely that of their friends and family too through word of mouth).
Declining customer engagement is a huge battleground for brands in a modern world full of sensory distractions. In today’s diverse new world of consumer demands and expectations, fuelled by changing demographics and the cultural shift in the market, brands are struggling to create meaningful differentiation and engagement amongst their audience. The brands who are able to identify customers’ expectations and address them via true and authentic emotional values, will be the successful companies of the future.
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