Darren Coleman, founder and managing consultant at Wavelength Marketing, talks extensively about brand experience.
With over 20 years of experience in brand marketing spanning B2B, B2C, goods, services, Darren is a regular speaker at marketing conferences. He holds an MA, a services branding PhD and is a visiting also a lecturer in Corporate Brand Management at the University of Warwick. He penned the book Building Brand Experiences: A Practical Guide to Retaining Brand Relevance that has been helping marketers and brands across the globe.
In this exclusive interview, Darren talks about the importance of retaining brand relevance through brand experience, how it differs from customer experience, and why brands need to be consistent.
What as per you are the characters that make a powerful brand stand out?
Powerful brands build experiences that connect in emotionally relevant ways with customers and other stakeholders. These types of brands understand it’s not functional product features or service characteristics that provide powerful sources of competitive advantage but the overall experience they deliver. The likes of Disney, Singapore Airlines and Mandarin Oriental hotels spring to mind as good examples. They don’t bow to fashion or fads but deliver consistent experiences that engage their customers at an emotional level.
How do you go from experiential marketing (real-life experience) to driving brand experience across digital platforms?
Before brands think about building brand experiences across digital platforms they need to clarify what a customer or other stakeholder wants to achieve or the problem they want to solve. This insight then paves the way for omnichannel brand experiences that should focus on helping your customers or other stakeholders achieve these ends. If a digital platform helps a customer or stakeholder achieve a goal or solve a problem, use it; if not, don’t. Quite frequently brands dive head first and use certain technology for no good reason. This does more damage than good. It dilutes focus and ultimately reduces the relevance of the brand experiences you build.
Is brand experience different from customer experience?
Yes, absolutely! This is something many brands overlook. As the name implies, customer experience tends to focus on the customer, the end user or the client from a customer journey or customer mapping perspective. Brand experiences connect the brand with a broad range of stakeholders via the experiences built. In this sense, brand experiences are deeper, broader, and more complex than customer experiences because they look to engage stakeholders emotionally with the brand via the experiences built.
Brand experience measurement – is it limited to online impressions and shares?
Firstly, metrics such as impressions or likes are vanity measures. They don’t measure engagement and this is what powerful brand experiences drive. For this reason, shares, comments, retweets/reposts etc., are a more powerful way of measuring brand experiences. However, online is only part of the measurement puzzle. World-class brands obtain a holistic suite of a brand, employee and financial metrics before, during and after they build brand experiences so they can see, in no uncertain terms, if the experiences being build drive performance. Brand and employee measures are particularly powerful because they act as a proverbial crystal ball for financial metrics when used as part of statistical models.
Are there technological assets that can help with brand experience?
Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and the advent of AI present huge opportunities in terms of personalising brand experiences. The possibilities are truly mind-boggling. However, I think it’s important to keep things in context. People play a very important role in building brand experiences. This is especially the case in services and B2B markets where the behavioural component of the experience comes into sharper focus.
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What is your advice to upcoming marketing and brand professioanls?
Be focused and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Sure, some people will ignore you but many won’t. Also, invest in yourself and keep updating your knowledge. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved with a brand so go for it!
This interview was originally published before the Vibe Marketers Fest in Dubai in November 2018.