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 or Vrbo.
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 customers have with a company—from the first time a message or ad caught their attention to the last time they contacted a support team.
An exceptional brand experience can earn you global recognition, while even an average one can cause your company to lose traction in the market.
Without a memorable brand experience, you’re just one of many commodities anyone can choose.
What Is Brand Experience?
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 at Moving Brands, in a Medium article. “Mostly proof.”
In other words, a brand must consistently deliver on the promises a company makes. You can present your organization 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 [reputation] will suffer.
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, 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 as much as your product. After all, anyone can make a one-off transaction, but relationships produce return buyers, brand loyalty and, in time, evangelism.
To summarize Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle framework, prospective customers need to understand why you do what you do before they’ll care about how or what you do.
Once someone is considering a purchase, nurturing messaging, product comparisons, video demos, case studies and reviews become a vital part of the brand experience.
Your pricing model, contract terms and delivery are critical in the decision stage: people should feel like they’re getting value from the entirety of the process, not like they’re being herded toward an endpoint. Once someone becomes a customer, sustaining 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 ad campaigns, 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 social media post can be viewed around the world within an hour, the brand experience happens minute by minute. And every message matters.
What Elements Define Your Brand Experience?
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 part in the process. 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:
A unique selling proposition
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.
A striking logo and brand guidelines
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.
A well-designed website
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.
A strong social media presence
Your social media presence is a major part of 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 able to stay up to date with trends, keep customers engaged and respond to negative comments promptly and with empathy.
Your video marketing
Video has become a major pillar of the decision-making process for many consumers. Over 90 percent of customers say they want to see more videos from brands they support, according to HubSpot. In 2022, nearly 66 percent of total consumer internet traffic was video, according to Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report.
Video marketing can boost brand experience in many ways. You can use it to tell your story 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.
How Can You Elevate Your Brand Experience?
Customer expectations of brands have never been higher. As Mark Kilens, CEO and Co-founder at TACT, shared on LinkedIn, 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 a clear-eyed 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.
Survey your customers
You’ll never know what your customers really think of your brand unless you ask. Net Promoter Score is a good way to gauge general 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.
Revisit your buyer personas
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 current and reflective of your brand’s vision and mission. 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—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.
Monitor social media messages
Listening to social media conversations on your 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.
Ask the important questions
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.
What Do You Need To Support Your 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, compelling messaging that will help you stand out from the crowd. And you need to deliver on your brand values at every step of the buyer’s journey.
This is where Kuno Creative can help. In addition to helping you establish or refine your brand identity, our creative and content teams can design and develop robust branding assets to elevate your brand and profile with your target audience. Our strategists will help translate the aspirational elements of your brand into actionable efforts, while our RevOps team can translate marketing efforts into closed deals and satisfied customers.