Which Brand Experiences Produce the Biggest Impact?

Starting with perhaps the most obvious point, the types of brand experiences that are likely to have the greatest impact on customers are those that resonate with customers on an emotional level. After all, the reason people desire and ultimately buy a branded product or service over an unbranded or generic version is either for how the brand makes them feel or what it says (signals) about them to others—in other words, emotional reasons.

Beyond creating a positive emotional affect, though, what other characteristics do impactful brand experiences need to possess, if any? Based on our experience, impactful brand experiences must also be relevant; that is, they must address the needs and wants, pain points or problems of the brand’s target audience(s). They must also be authentic. In other words, the brand experience must be consistent with the nature and purpose of the brand and be sincere as opposed to overtly self-serving or pandering. Experiences that are personalized to the individual help enhance the emotional affect, and experiences that are distinctive, if not innovative, also support a greater impact on the customer.

Beyond these attributes, the five types of brand experiences we recognize as providing the biggest emotional impact on customers include:

 

1. Immersive Live Events

From tradeshow product launches to pop-up shops to creative PR stunts, these live events provide face-to-face interaction with customers and allow the brand to weave customers into the brand story directly and create lasting memories of how the brand made them feel.

 

2. User-Generated Content Campaigns

When brands encourage customers to share content about their experiences with the brand, it not only provides additional marketing heft, but a high degree of authenticity and social proof that is likely to convert others to the brand. Psychologically, publicly supporting a brand with personal content will also strengthen the long-term brand commitment of those participating customers.

 

3. Cause Marketing

Aligning the brand with, and actively supporting human, social or environmental causes that customers also care about, enhances brand reputation, passion, loyalty and advocacy. However, this must be based on authentic values of the brand and the brand owner—not just something that is done for business purposes, else it can cause more harm than good for the brand.

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4. Influencer Partnerships

Collaboration with key opinion leaders and influencers in the brand’s space will resonate with target customers and enhance brand reach, engagement and credibility. In the age of social media, brand ambassadors offer great dividends in making the brand more tangible and experiential to customers and reinforce their decision to embrace the brand. The one risk that the brand must contend with is the potential for an influencer to go rogue, misbehave or otherwise turn into a liability.

 

5. Personalized/VIP Services

Providing recognition and reward for loyalty makes customers feel good about their relationship with the brand and increases the likelihood they will, in turn, encourage others to seek out that same relationship. The key here is to personalize the recognition and reward rather than having it come across as transactional and impersonal.

Power brands recognize the value of strategically investing in brand experiences. In a competitive, fast-paced market, how you make customers feel about your brand drives long-term growth and success and sets power brands apart from base brands and generic offerings.

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Frank Schab
An experienced marketing and branding strategist, Frank has been helping clients optimize the value of their brands through insightful analysis and effective strategy for more than three decades. Along with holding positions at General Motors and Pfizer, Frank served as a Managing Partner at Interbrand New York and VP of Global Brand Research at Opinion Research Corporation before co-founding Six Degrees. His brand-building work in various sectors including hospitality, medical device, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology has taken him to 17 countries on four continents. Frank holds a doctorate in psychology from Yale University and speaks fluent German.

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