Generating memorable brand experiences: 11 powerful hacks
Industry leaders tell Sérgio Brodsky how to make a mark in a target audience’s mind.
This article originally appeared in The Generation Issue, our June/July issue of Marketing magazine.
Every memorable experience has key features that define it and make it special. Yet, experiences are but abstractions, felt and interpreted in our minds. By analysing yours and others’ experiences, it becomes easier to define how your brand should be sensed.
This is important because recent industry reports indicate that marketers are moving away from volume-based advertising to quality-based brand experiences. According to a recent digital marketing forecast by Forrester Research, over the next five years, search will lose share to display and social advertising, while video will scale.
These changes reflect a new a dynamic that will reintroduce human intervention into programmatic ad buying, turn marketers into growth hackers, and put long-tail publishers out of business.
Since digital has become like oxygen in brand communications, having a holistic view on how to design more meaningful brand experiences is of utmost significance.
As reported by McKinsey’s ‘Seven deadly sins of customer-experience transformations’, however, CX transformation programs often fail.
With that in mind and a little help from some friends, below are 11 powerful hacks to help you make a mark in your target audience’s mind.
Precision, addressability and convergence
Vijay Solanki, CEO, IAB Australia
Digital lends itself to the delivery of experiences. It does this through four key principles:
- personalisation: the ability to use data to tailor the experience to you,
- context: the ability to use data and media to make sure you get the right experience at the right time,
- community: experiences always means more when shared, and
- immersion: digital technologies can take you deeper into your world, from HD video to 360 experiences and AR (augmented reality).
The tools and techniques mean that digital experience can deliver you to places that might be hard to get to. That could be the footy final you couldn’t get to or a sold-out concert. It’s a huge opportunity for media owners and associated technology companies because it allows you to tell a story in a much more powerful way.
Customer journey ubiquity
Simon Davenport, national advertising and communications manager, Officeworks
Mapping out a multitude of potential customer journeys and designing your service model around them is key. This practice allows you to set up your customer experience in a way that suits their needs and habits, not only what has worked best for the brand.
Don Rubin, game designer and the US’ premier puzzle master
‘Fun’ isn’t the best or most effective measure of a successful game. Fun is a nebulous, in many ways indefinable, metric. An activity some folks find enormously enjoyable – slaughtering zombies in a first-person shooter video game, for example – others may find tedious, off-putting, even offensive.
Instead, game designers tend to focus on compulsion, a powerful psychological state typified by habitual, almost irresistible, repetitive behaviour. Most successful games incorporate a simple, engaging ‘game mechanic’ that satisfies a core compulsion.
Then, a circular set of reinforcing triggers, called ‘compulsion loop’, help perpetuate gameplay.
Scoring, completing missions, levelling up, earning in-game currency, unlocking upgrades, collecting rewards, achieving goals and milestones, and so on, are all designed to maintain compulsion, while adjustments in degree-of- difficulty ‘balance’ the game.
A game that’s too easy is boring. One that’s too difficult is frustrating. A well-balanced game is compelling and… um, fun.
Steve Kalifowitz, director of brand strategy at Twitter JAPAC (in 133 characters)
‘Great’ experiences need high relevance, which can be found at the intersection of solid audience insights and strong brand identity.
Equal measures of delight
George Hedon, founder of Pause Festival
The most important thing to delivering great experiences is the ability to resolve any given situation with maximum satisfaction to both sides. It’s only when the experience is genuine it delivers the greatest impact.
Tina Walsberger, head of marketing and customer service, Sydney Festival
For me it’s what I call ‘extreme brand delivery’. The real magic happens when every customer touch point manifests a clear and almost tactile (or haptic) brand vision. In the world of live art you can’t always control what happens on the night. But you can influence everything that happens around it. From communications to ticketing or space design. Everything informs the experiences delivered by your ground staff.
Technology as the invisible enabler
Tom Goodwin, number one top voice in marketing on LinkedIn
Increasingly people see technology as the key to great customer experiences. They want to add it wherever they go. Shops install iPads, airports put in customer service kiosks, airlines use Twitter. Great customer service, however, is one where technology is the enabler not the destination. World-class service empathetically understands contemporary customer needs. Sometimes it’s about doing something people only ever dreamed was possible. But often it’s a matter of putting technology in the background and making life easier.
Reliability over and over again
Jodie Auster, general manager, UberEATS Melbourne
For an on-demand experience, reliability is critical. When a customer says ‘I want this now’, you deliver magic when your product is easy, fast and reliable, every single time. Behind the scenes this means sophisticated technology amplified by repeated operational precision. For the customer, it feels as easy as the push of a button.
Spectacle in narrative
Gil Poznanski, former Hollywood filmmaker and Melbourne-based creative technologist
Our society enthrals itself in the spectacular. The hyper-reality of exploding cars and fantastic universes has desensitised us from the simple things. Walking down the street is coupled with a soundtrack from your iPhone and the latest social media updates. Trivial strolls have become micro-adventures. Everyday reality can’t keep up with the stimuli we want.
The omnipresence of special effects or digital filters has hyperbolised our personal narratives. So, instead of resorting to usual calls-to- action, advertisers should mobilise arousal. Exaggeration makes experiences stick.
Sandra Sieb, co-founder, Leadership Partners
Before you can create any experience, you need to create trust. Trust is the safety zone that will make your audiences want to listen to you. How do you create trust? There’s no easy answer, each time it will be different! Often it’s about addressing their fears and concerns, with reassurance or by sharing something uncomfortable.
That’s because trust is generated from being real and not in denial.
Zanyar Kurd, founder, Zuse Digital
Our brains are hardwired to identify and complete patterns. Great experiences allow people to partly own them. When we developed the AFL Players app, we gave users the ability to custom create a message with their favourite player or commentator, then share among friends, something that was never done before. More than just allowing storytelling, we enabled an immersive story-doing.
Results speak for themselves. In less than 48 hours AFL Players became Australia’s top paid app, being featured by App Store’s ‘New Apps We Love’ and across most popular news sites and radio stations.
The above should provide some inspiration to help marketers excel at surpassing their audiences’ expectations. But instead of strictly following them as ‘cake recipes’, hack the hacks and never cease to experiment. It was not by chance that Jimi Hendrix’s inaugural album Are You Experienced has had six versions of its track listing since its debut.
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