The ABC's of Branding: Experience



A unique brand experience is the feature that distinguishes your brand apart from your competitors. This is the way in which you deliver your product or offering to your customers. A brand's experience can be the defining feature when customers are in the decision process of the buyer's journey, and can be the difference between your brand, and your competitor offering the same thing. Think of this as the packaging in which you deliver your brand to customers. Let's use a baking analogy again. In terms of presentation, would you rather eat a plain muffin, or a cupcake with icing, sprinkles and a cherry on top? Chances are you're already picturing yourself biting into that cupcake and licking the icing off your nose. Delivery is one of the most important tools in both meeting and exceeding the expectations of your customer.

How to create a brand experience that will resonate with your customers:

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1. Curate the Environment

Depending on what type of product/service your brand offers, take care to curate the environment where your customer interacts with your brand. This might be your website, or this may be your physical store location. If you can, use atmospherics when operating out of a brick-and-mortar store (Brick-and-mortar is a term used to describe physical store locations. Older buildings used to made using bricks and mortar as an adhesive to keep the bricks together, so the term just describes a store that uses a physical commercial location).

Aim to use sensory appeals that target:

If you're an e-commerce provider, you'll probably be focusing on your website. Make sure your site is appealing not only on the landing page, but on each page where customers may be browsing your offerings. Your website should be clear, legible and easy to navigate. Although you may not be able to appeal to the taste, touch and smell senses, make sure to excel in both your audio appeals (background playlist, jingles, sound effects) and visual appeals (white space, legible fonts, consistent colors that aren't hard on the eyes).

2. Provide Consistent Support

Add support throughout the customers entire interaction with your brand. On websites, this usually looks like a chat bubble in the bottom right corner where customers are welcome to ask questions to real time support. Make sure to give browsers other relevant suggestions or popular services on your site. If this visitor is a newcomer, knowing what has worked for others can be comforting to the user and build credibility around your brand.

 If you operate out of a physical location, providing support lies in the hands of sales associates, receptionists and customer representatives. Support will include greeting customers to build rapport, and making them feel comfortable. It is also a good practice to offer your name and invite them to ask you if they have any questions or issues. Make sure to stay relatively present and aware so that customers won't have a hard time searching for you, or that you can jump in and help if you see them struggling. Customer service can be difficult as there is no set formula for what each buyer is comfortable with. It is important to read each customer accordingly; while continuous conversation may resonate with some, it may come off as pushy or aggressive to others. Providing support at each stage of the visitor's experience will help them to position your brand as being helpful, useful and customer-centered.

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3. Pay Attention to the Packaging

Packaging is crucial, as it also acts as a form of advertising. Whether it's bags, delivery packaging, a business card or a referral letter, care in your 'packaging' shows pride in your brand, which customers will reciprocate. You probably know at least one person who likes to flaunt their shopping bags after a trip to the store - imagine how many people will have seen your name on this bag, and then ask yourself if it's the message you want to send to passerby's? 

With the increasing momentum of the green movement, customers are adapting reusable totes into lunch bags for everyday use. Incidentally, when these bags wear out, the customers is eager to revisit that brand for a replacement. You'll have to figure out if your prefer to use plastic, paper, or cloth bags, tissue or no tissue, ribbon or no ribbon, and whether to gift wrap the product in a box or not. However, be wary that using plastics and papers may cut environmentally conscious shoppers from your customer base. If you have the flexibility to choose (or re-choose) a packaging choice, opt for cloth to expand your customer reach and brand loyalty. If you're a brand providing a service, your 'packaging' may be complementary gifts, a business card, letterhead and other collateral. Regardless, make sure the takeaway you offer your customer is a consistent and authentic depiction of your brand.

4. Add Something Unexpected

Here's that extra thing that's going to make your brand memorable. It's that extra step that will leave first time customers in awe and make them wonder why they've never come to you before. This is the cherry on top of your brand, and that unique feature that at the end of the day, makes your customer feel good about coming to you instead of your competitors. This could be a company initiative, a campaign, a complementary service or reward, and more. Think about a store, service or website you've recently used that made and impression on you. Why was it so memorable? Chances are that the novelty of doing something new or unexpected created a contrast in your mind against other brands. This also a good way to make your brand look like experts. Chances are if you have time to add something quirky and fun, you've already mastered how to manage a brand with your eyes closed.

Shaping your brand experience is essential as it supports what you say about yourself, and creates a unified image of your beliefs to your customers. This is the part where you show your customers who you are, rather than telling them. How you guide our customer's interactions with your brand shows your pride in your own offerings, and the care you've taken to consider your customer every step of the way. Aim to be unique, aim to be authentic, and in whatever you offer, aim to provide it masterfully.


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