Brand experience translates into sensations, feelings, knowledge, and behavioral responses triggered by brand stimuli that are part of your identity, image, and communications. It is a set of interactions between a company and people, which definitely contribute to the running of the business. It covers several territories: how people buy a brand, how they interact with the company to get help or buy more, what is the behavior of its employees.

Effective Brand Management

A brand is a combination of elements, such as expectations, needs, experiences, wants, and aspirations. Under these parameters, the perception of value varies for each individual, and in it, “use” – experience – is a fundamental element.

The brand must act as a condenser of the overall experience, which is generated by the experiences
of use, consumption, socialization or personalization. This allows it to equip itself with a brand promise with added value, differential and memorable.

Customers do not buy products or services, but rather approach a certain brand because they feel identified with it and share its values, as a result of the experience with them. Great brands establish relational actions that generate 360º experiences before and after the sale. From branding we claim that, in addition, these experiences must be satisfactory, meaningful, memorable, coherent and consistent, thus contributing to generate brand value. Whatever the time and place the customer interacts with it. Keeping customers, gaining new ones, increasing the purchase ticket and strengthening relational ties is the result of a good orientation to the customer experience.

In this context, the effective management of a brand requires total commitment to its differential promise, which must be built around the way in which the customer experience affects even their own behavior. We know that delivering this brand promise needs to be unique and consistent across each and every touchpoint, leading to the need for an in-depth look at customer behavior. Why do they buy? What is the influence of the point of sale and the salespeople? What is the balance between the cognitive (e.g., product quality) and the emotional (e.g., safety) in customer decisions? In this new environment, marketing has to take a leading role in influencing customer experience management, throughout the organization.

Let’s think as consumers about how we access a product or service from the purchase decision to customer service. It usually starts by searching for on/off line information or recommendations from friends. When we decide which brand to buy, it’s because we like what it stands for, what it says and what it offers.

Its image is complementary to our own personality. During the purchase process we like to be treated according to our expectations, both in terms of the real or virtual space, as well as how we are served and the information or recommendations they provide us. In this way, a global brand experience is generated. The communication that the brand can do is only part of the whole picture. If a company fails at any point in this customer experience, it diverts the customer to a different brand. Successful companies are able to define the points of contact (current or potential), identify the drivers of behavior and improve the way in which each touchpoint reinforces the very essence of the brand.

Phases of the brand experience

It has been proven that brand experiences occur throughout 3 phases:

1. Product Experience

Product experiences happen, logically, when consumers interact with products. From finding information about them to your own evaluation. It can be a direct experience when there is physical contact with the product or indirect when it is a virtual relationship or through advertising. Usually, it is a mixed experience, combining both direct and indirect experience.

2. Shopping Experience

The relationship between customers and points of sale is fundamental. Whether it’s physical experiences in the stores themselves, where the décor itself should be an extension of the brand image, and the service offered by the sellers should be completely aligned with the brand promise. As if they are virtual online experiences, where the aesthetics of the site act in the same way as the atmosphere of a physical space, and navigability and usability are decisive so that the customer does not decide to leave the portal.

3. Consumer Experience

Experiences also happen when customers consume and use products. They are multi-dimensional, occurring in a variety of environments. This is the moment of truth, the one where the consumption or use of the product must satisfy all the expectations placed on it. This is the culmination of the effort accumulated by the entire Company since the beginning.
It should be noted that the circle does not close here. From this moment on, it is when the after-sales service or the dialogue of the brand with its customers becomes essential to achieve a positive overall experience. The one that allows you to build loyalty and even get the best treasure, the recommendation.

The brands that succeed now and in the future will be the brands that build relationships over time based on experience. Beyond the product, they offer the shared value of a great experience. Recent studies show that people think more highly of brands that generate positive brand experiences than their competition. They are willing to recommend them and would even pay more for them.

Pillars of Brand Experience Creation

Each company can generate one type of brand experience or another, but all of them have 4 fundamental aspects in common

1. Corporate Commitment
The corporate strategy must be focused on a 100% customer-oriented global experience. “Zappos” is a good example of this. Instead of defining the company as an online store for shoes and accessories, its executive team built a culture based on constantly offering the best customer service, aware that loyalty is achieved through consistency in contacts with the brand and not through an isolated positive experience.

2. Customer Focus
It is essential to carry out extensive customer research to identify what drives their loyalty and thus determine improvements according to the drivers with the greatest impact. Personalizing the experience as much as possible is the main goal.

3. Employee Engagement
Engaging all employees is the only guarantee to generate global and positive brand experiences. The Company’s senior executives are the first to share the brand culture, thus ensuring that it flows throughout the organization.
Internal communication plays an unavoidable role throughout the process to achieve the best results.

4. Continuous Improvement
The brand strategy must be perfectly aligned with the business strategy. The brand must be in harmony with the expectations it generates towards customers. It is necessary to turn the brand experience into an exercise in differentiation based on a process of continuous improvement. There is no room to relax even if you achieve success. Management must integrate brand and customer loyalty into business outcomes.

Article originally published in Brand About #4

Carlos Puig Falcó

President of Branward®

Photos: Shutterstock