Are You Creating a Unique Brand Experience?

With the ever-expanding global economy, consumers’ options are relatively limitless. They can now generate price comparisons from competitors worldwide easily and instantly with just a few taps on their smart phones. This convenience coupled with a hyper-competitive market can cause consumers to reduce their opinion of a particular good or service to where they only consider price when making a purchase. Yikes! That thought can be frightening for a brand team.

For much of the past century, the economy has been defined as being composed of three sectors. The commodity sector which sold raw materials, the goods sector which sold manufactured products and the services sector which provided intangible goods. Many economists now believe there is a fourth sector built on experiences. Are you creating a unique brand experience?

In the book The Experience Economy, authors B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore discuss this new sector, using coffee as an example to illustrate it.

  • Commodity Sector: The sale of raw coffee beans from the plantation/distributor. The average price of the beans needed for a cup of coffee is only a few cents.
  • Goods Sector: Roasted beans that have been processed and packaged for individual sale. The cost has risen with this stage to around a quarter.
  • Service Sector: Brewed coffee available at restaurants and cafés. The service of brewing and serving the coffee to the consumer raises the cost further to between one and two dollars.
  • Experience Sector: High-end specialty coffee lounges. They are providing the product and service related to the coffee and an additional “unique experience” which packages a large selection of coffee beverages, high quality décor, comfortable lounge space and knowledgeable baristas. This moves the price per cup to around five dollars.

To succeed today, companies must consistently evaluate how they do business and ensure they are elevating themselves to the ‘experience sector’ by creating a distinctive experience for their customers – focusing on the brand promise, messaging (both internal and external), marketing and sales, operational best practices and most importantly, your employee training. At evok, our mantra is, “A brand doesn’t truly ‘live’ unless employees embody it. They have to carry the brand; they must be passionate about the brand. Otherwise, even the best communications plan will not succeed.” Having this integrated experiential approach will influence consumers to choose your brand and become a loyal brand advocate. They’ll also be willing to pay more for something they believe in. Unique experiences don’t occur by accident.

A great example of a brand delivering a consistent and purposeful brand experience is Apple. The employee, shopping and product experiences all reflect Apple’s smart simplicity. When you enter an Apple store, there are well-versed employees waiting to offer a concierge-style experience making the customer feel valued and as an end result, justifying a larger spend. They lead you through the product demonstrations; personally escort you to the product you need and ask insightful questions to ensure you receive the best product to fit your needs. This brand experience matches the user experience with Apple products – user friendly, smart and a design that reflects the consumer’s need and performs well consistently. This brand experience sets Apple apart from the competition.

Naturally, our team at evok studies brands. We seek out and create new approaches to make our clients stand out in a crowd. So, here are some of the first steps we recommend for brands to create their own exceptional experience:

  • Research and truly understand your audience. In order to connect with them, you must understand how their interests and needs intersect with your brand.
  • Find ways to communicate one-to-one in order to create personal relationships with your customers. Emotional connections create memorable and unique experiences.
  • Know your competition. Identify the differences and potential weakness and use them to differentiate yourself.
  • Develop best practices for employees that honor your brand promise and create a clear understanding of how to consistently deliver the “experience.”