Touching a brand: Why experience is critical

There’s a familiar sentiment that ‘experience’ is the fun part of marketing, not necessarily the important part. It’s certainly true that an interactive installation is more engaging than a streetside billboard and a dynamic digital experience more immersive than a static landing page, but experience is not just fun. It’s critical.

Research suggests that 95% of all decisions are made using subconscious emotional drivers. Whether you’re buying a new pair of sneakers or procuring mining services, you will decide based on how you feel. If you fail to reach people’s emotions during the decision-making process, you will probably fail at influencing them.

If you fail to reach people’s emotions during the decision-making process, you will probably fail at influencing them.

Why is experience so powerful? Because it creates a scenario where the consumer can try your brand for themselves, physically and digitally. Experiencing something moves your audience from understanding something to believing in it.

Imagine trying to convince someone that a product they tried and rated is not any good – it would be a waste of time. This is the power of brand experience, and why it’s the new battle between brands because it is where you can meaningfully connect with your audience.

Experiencing something moves you from understanding something to believing in it.

Digital experience = Scalable impact

There is no doubt that the most effective way to convince someone to buy something is to let them try it, like the classic test drive approach. However, delivering tailored experiences in the real world is costly in both reach and scale.

If the last few years have taught us anything, technology connects us more than ever, and physical separation certainly doesn’t mean separation. The significant time spent online has allowed brands to reach more people more quickly and shift perceptions around the value of digital experiences, products and services.

Digital experiences are, of course, different from IRL, and the immersive sensory aspects of interface continue to fall short, but there are significant opportunities that are hard to ignore, including;

  • Anyone, anywhere, can access digital experiences at any time
  • The emergence of new categories of digital assets and ownership means more and different experiences are possible
  • Culture, community and creativity converge to create meaningful experiences that immediately respond to the zeitgeist

Seemingly the deeper we dive into this digital world, the more comfortable we are with virtual products and services fulfilling our needs and desires. Perhaps one of the most extreme examples of this new mindset is the rarified ape cartoon avatars replacing supercars as status symbols for the wealthy and famous.

“After all, the world is not one made of rocks, trees, and physical objects; it is a world of insults, opportunities, status symbols, betrayals, saints and sinners. In other words, beliefs.” – Jonathan Haidt

Brand building experiences

The online world is still a curiously transactional and utility-driven place, but it has limitless potential. We’re already spending 40% of our discretionary / leisure time online, so what type of world do we want to create for ourselves?

Global Digital Advertising Appears Poised for Significant Growth

Brand building experience is an approach rather than a product. It’s about understanding people’s motivations, the barriers that get in the way, and the real reasons they’re willing to spend time and money with you, then creating an experience that speaks to those things.

It’s about changing how people think and feel about products and services, whether through an immersive website, an informative content series, an entertaining social campaign, or a practical web application.

The core characteristic of a digital experience is giving the user a personal interaction with your brand. Don’t just tell people why the product is great. Let them try. Craft an emotive, online world. Your audience may not be able to touch your product physically, but they will emotionally touch your brand.

Andy Davey is a Director of Strategy at Juicebox.

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