This post shares five ways you can get the c-suite on your side when selling the brand experience business case into them. Outlining how brand experiences drive performance, enhance happiness, facilitate differentiation, guide omnichannel strategy and help people connect are outlined ways of doing this.
Leading marketing executives know brand experiences provide a route to retaining brand relevance. But getting their c-suite colleagues to align with their ideas appreciate why experiences are powerful is easier said than done.
This article will help you explain why, in practical terms, brands that compete through experiences retain relevance and win in today’s markets. The goal is to provide you a helping hand when it comes to ‘selling’ your brand experience vision into the c-suite.
Why are brand experiences so powerful?
Brand experiences drive brand performance: Research shows that brand experiences boost revenue, brand awareness and associations, advocacy, perceived quality, reputation, satisfaction and loyalty. These are key brand performance metrics even the most sceptical CEO or CFO will be interested in moving the dial on.
Brand experiences bring people more enduring happiness than possessions: Cast your memory back to time with friends at school or University. Travelling together, playing in the same sports team or even getting into trouble with the teacher probably comes to mind. These experiences contribute to the fabric of who you are. This makes experiences emotive, personal and often tinged with nostalgia. All very valuable. However, if you buy a new sports car the first few days, weeks or even months are exciting but the thrill soon wears off. It becomes the new norm.
And there’s more good news. Other research shows that waiting for an experience is more pleasurable than waiting to receive a possession because dopamine is released when we anticipate a positive emotion.
Think about your last holiday. Visualising yourself stretched out on the beach sipping a cool cocktail, enjoying quality time with your family or chilling out with your partner. The anticipation was enjoyable. Now think the last product you ordered online. Waiting for that wasn’t so enjoyable. Correct?
Brand experiences provide almost unlimited sources of differentiation: Brands used to differentiate through physical product features. For example, banks focused on interest rates, number of ATMs or branches and credit card design. This strategy is problematic because a physical product has a finite number of features you can squeeze points of difference from. Once you’ve used all those features you’ll be in danger of commoditising your offer, leaving price as your only competitive route. As margins evaporate something has to give. This is frequently the quality of experience delivered. In the long run, no one wins.
This contrasts with brand experiences that provide almost unlimited sources of differentiation. You walk into the branch of a bank and what is your first impression? A welcoming member of staff, relaxed customers’ sitting on a comfortable sofa, a vibrant feature wall and ambient music? Just one touchpoint provides many opportunities to differentiate your brand. Now open this out to other parts of the retail experience. The customer waits in a queue, deals with a cashier then leaves the branch. Even more opportunities to differentiate your brand. Now add other channels such as digital, social, telephone and events into the mix. Opportunities to differentiate grow exponentially. If anything the problem becomes knowing what to focus your efforts on. TD Bank’s Penny Arcades provide an example of a wonderfully engaging touchpoint which allow customers to deposit coins at branches and win prizes for doing so. Rather cleverly, they have transformed an otherwise dull activity of depositing coins at a bank into a fun, interactive experience. Ka-ching.
Brand experiences inform omnichannel strategy: Brands need to face and conceivably embrace a mind boggling number of touchpoints; Traditional media, digital, social, mobile, events etc. This list goes on and this trend shows no signs of relenting. Brands that understand how to build brand experiences embrace such change and thrive as a result. They have a clearly defined brand that focuses their minds when identifying relevant channels then delivering experiences within or across them. This contrasts with organisations who don’t have a clearly defined brand. They ebb and flow between channels like the tide of the sea. Fragmented omnichannel experiences tend to follow as they drift from pillar to post.
Brand experiences facilitate interaction between people: Chief Marketing Officers are very focused on ‘Digital Transformation’. Whilst digital’s appeal is understandable, the importance of people when building brand experiences should not be overlooked.
One study found that whilst 78% of financial services consumers said they would welcome computer generated support, nearly two thirds still value human interaction, especially to deal with complaints (68%) and receive advice about complex products (61%). Brands like BP and Burberry are increasingly investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to automate brand experiences but research conducted by Forrester shows AI powered tools such as chatbots are failing to meet customer expectations because they cannot deal with the idiosyncrasies and nuances of human behaviour.
Leading marketing executives understand the benefits brand experiences can bring to their organisation. But being able to explain and justify why brand experiences are so powerful is a part of the puzzle many miss. Driving performance, enhancing happiness, facilitating differentiation, guiding omnichannel strategy and helping people connect are possible reasons. If you can explain the logic that underpins your ideas you’ll have a much stronger negotiating arm when selling experiences into the c-suite. This article is intended to give you a helping hand with that.
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Photo by Drew Beamer
Also published on Medium.