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Monday, May 04, 2009

Brand Experience Lab: Creating a Branded Retail Experience

In preparing for Social Media Series: David Polinchock on Bridging New & Old, I came across notes I took while first listening to David and experiencing the Brand Experience Lab. I thought I would share them with you here as they seem as relevant today - if not more so - as they did four years ago.

Here goes.

I participated in a fascinating seminar at the Brand Experience Lab + walking tour of SoHo on May 5, 2005 to discuss how to build a branded retail experience. This program was sponsored by POPAI [point of purchase advertising international]. The premise is that of the $900+ billion spent on marketing, $18B is spent at retail because traditional advertising no longer works. Power has shifted to the consumer, and the consumer is responding at the point of purchase, where the brand experience becomes critical for success.

The Brand Experience Lab - David Polinchock
The marketplace today:

  • Many products/services are becoming commodities;
  • The consumer has become increasingly knowledgeable, and comfortable making purchasing decisions, relying less on traditional marketing and sales efforts;
  • It takes more effort/resources/etc. today to create a compelling brand identity.
  • Challenge is how to ignite passion, inspire loyalty for your brand?
All elements must be integrated; none can be viewed in isolation. Each represents one piece of a larger brand story that is told with passion and consistency, and begins with the company itself.

Challenge of brand marketer is to break through the visual 'war zone' [i.e., clutter], consistently present brand's identity, connect with consumers in a meaningful level.

For consumers, they need to be able to find their brand, understand any feature/benefit differences, know whether the specific outlet "has what I want, and can I find what I need" because they are time stressed and need to feel good about their purchase decisions.

Retailers are becoming dominant brands, too, so marketers want to make sure that retailers will fully support their displays, enabling marketers to retain important real estate. Easier to do if marketers can demonstrate to retailers that product moves, fits with retail identity, and display systems are easy to use.

Ultimately, the overall emotional satisfaction with a brand is more important than features, benefits, customer service or quality alone. Brands must engage and captivate with sensory, interactive, authentic and relevant elements. Brand loyalty is driven by the delivery of more valuable experiences -- experiences add value that will ensure your brand's success.

Components of compelling brand experience include:

  • Culture - need to thoroughly understand cultural trends, customer needs, and knowledge of what is coming in the future
  • Creativity - take your customers beyond your brand's features/benefits to create a visceral connection via storytelling
  • Technology - audience is accustomed to using technology is daily life; so find relevant new technology to help tell your brand story better
Defining brand experience:

  • A product/service is nothing more than an artifact or act around which customers have experiences. Over time, your brand will be defined by a total impression of those experiences rather than the products or services themselves.
  • The right experience set creates a strong, emotional and consistent connection with the consumer. This is a force that captivates your audience and arouses anticipation of benefit upon brand recognition. Various elements such as advertising and marketing contribute to this group of experiences, however they are rarely the sum total of brand identity.
  • Never underestimate the degree to which your customers and consumers will go out of their way for a better experience. Similarly, never underestimate the degree to which one bad experience can undo all other positive efforts.
Expressions of the brand story must all be integrated and deliver a single consistent message. That includes:

+ Promotion and advertising
+ Retail -- lotsa breakdown here!
+ Customer service staff
+ The Web
+ Brand advocate communities
+ PR & events
+ Corporate communications
+ B to B communications
+ Display and package design
+ Product Features & Benefits

Develop a compelling story, and you have the basis for turning consumers/audience into evangelists.

Comments? Reactions? Would you change or add anything? Any success stories to share?

Thanks, David!

[Note: the picture above is of Seattle's Pike Place Fish Market - known for its experience - and not of a shop in SoHo.]

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