brand experience

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Brand eXperience.

X. Where Experience Meets Design is Brian Solis’s new book, one I suspect will be a big seller. Why? Because product and brand experience are critical customer care-abouts. Another reason? Advertising and marketing agencies can bill for it; it’s a business. Brand experience was a smart business the first time I ran into it at Megan Kent and David Kessler’s Starfish Brand Design. They were, and are, big fans of what Mr. Solis is now branding X.

Dare I say brand experience will become the pop marketing term of the 20 teens? Maybe not a whirlwind term such as “transparency” or “authenticity,” but it’ll be a thing. Bet on it.

That said, anyone can talk experience. Anyone can even build an experience. But for it to be meaningful and make deposits in the brand bank, it cannot be random. A brand experience needs to be on brand strategy – defined as an “organizing principle containing a claim and three support planks.”

Experience in brick and mortar and online are manageable, but certainly not easy. Without a brand strategy it will not only be messy — it may be counterproductive. Let’s see where Mr. Solis takes us. Off to order the book.

Peace.

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In marketing there are 3 schools of thought.

There are those who believe the easier you make products to use – the more intuitive they are – the more pervasive they will be.  Out-of-box experience, plug-and-play are terms used by this school. My strategy for Zude operated here: “The fastest, easiest way to build and manage a website.”

Then there is the school that knows people will need to be trained in order to get proper functionality out of products. Long instruction guides, tutorials, and actual training personal are part of this equation. When the level of complication is too great, training comes into play. Know how to tune a carburetor? Have you figured out Excel on your own? Do your teachers know how to manipulate the interactive white board?  Training is a growing category in the commerce world.

Lastly, there is the group that thrives on complexity and for which outsourcing is the model. Medicine is one. Taxes another. Law and reading a financial prospectus also come to mind. When it comes to things like taxes, complication is a cottage industry. Complication is a self-fulfilling industry.

Microsoft plays across all three of these areas.  It creates products a lay person can use.  It also builds into those products with levels of complexity that require mad training. But the over-engineered portion of those products, the 85 features no one uses in Microsoft Word, feed the needs of techies who love training and being trained.  Lastly, Microsoft has an ecosystem that is so complicated it requires outsourcing (Can you say IT department? Can you say systems integrators? Can you say cloud?)   I wonder if this across-the-board approach, which clearly has been lucrative, is what makes Microsoft such a huge, yet often vilified brand.

Anyway, the approach your company takes is a very important, upfront decision and impacts the brand experience. Pick one. Peace!

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Brand experience. Operations as marketing (Zeus Jones). Brand experience design (Starfish). These smart schools of thought surrounding branding all encourage marketers to operationalize a key brand promise into product development and delivery. People who practice this craft are marketing winners.

 

The strategy “best groomed mountain in the northeast” for ski resort Windham Mountain wasn’t just about moving snow around the mountain, it was about cleaning stains off the carpets, providing dental insurance to employees, handing out mud mats to cars owners leaving on warm days.

 

This may sound like a no-brainer – deliver, even over-deliver, on what you promise – but many companies don’t have the stomach for it. It adds expense, some say. Well it’s not a promise unless you do it.  If you don’t do it, it is a lie — marko-babble. Marketing fluff. Noise.

 

Grooming was a business-winning strategy for Windham. Was it defensible? Every day! Peace. 

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