One of the most essential elements of creating a brand is ensuring that you have a strong emphasis on brand experience.
What does this mean? Simply put, it is how people experience your brand. How do they feel after walking into your store, dealing with your staff, utilising your services? Every touch point will allow your potential customer the opportunity to experience your brand. With so many possibilities afforded to business these days, this becomes a very exciting and a very daunting prospect at the same time.
There is that saying that says ‘people don’t remember what you say, they remember how you made them feel’. This is what every brand should be thinking about when planning how customers will experience their brand.
Gone are the days of simply having a physical presence. In our modern world, digital and remote experiences are something that can be effectively utilised to create an incredible brand experience. Brands such as Shoes of Prey or Ezibuy have been able to effectively tap into the digital experience and bring it to life for their customer. More variety gives greater audience reach, but if not planned and executed correctly, it can also create the chance of more things going wrong.
I recently had two brand experiences while in store in two of Australia’s leading retails stores – Target and Myer.
It was just before father’s day and I was looking for a gift for my husband. I settled on an electronic wine cooler – you know, the ones that are temperature controlled so that the precious liquid within can maintain it’s desired flavour for longer? I hadn’t intended on purchasing such a bulky gift so didn’t take a trolly into the store with me. Deciding that I could carry the box by myself (along with two impromptu cushion purchases), I tried to work my way up to the front of the store to the check out.
Not too far into my journey (as I soon realised that this item was heavier than I had initially anticipated), the store manager came up to me and asked if she could organise for one of her staff to take the box off my hands and get it taken to the depot so that I could drive my car around and pick it up rather than have to work my way through Westfield with this large box.
I was incredibly grateful for this help, but the service didn’t end there. I was taken to a checkout where they helped me fill in the purchase and pick up form. I paid for the gift and when I drove around later to pick up my item, it was all ready to go. The staff member even loaded it into my car for me. So easy and a great experience. I was pleasantly surprised as I didn’t think I would get this level of service from Target, but they exceeded my expectations and I am now aware of a great service offering that they have which I will certainly make use of in the future.
My second experience was a week or two later – this time in Myer. I needed to get a top up of my cosmetic creams and there is a particular brand that I prefer which I can only get in the bigger department stores. I went over to the the counter and patiently waited as the assistant turned her back on me so that she could finish her personal phone call that seemed to involve two people who were caught in a compromising position! After a while I politely said ‘excuse me’ which resulted in a sign, the rolling of her eyes, and the comment “gotta go – customer to serve.”
I smiled politely and asked her about a particular night cream that I was after. I noticed that the packaging had changed so wasn’t sure which was the correct one and just needed a bit of help. The assistant told me that if I didn’t know the exact name of the product, she couldn’t help me as this wasn’t her regular counter. I tried to find what I was looking for while she just stood behind the counter looking at me with her arms folded across her chest. I said that I was having a bit of difficulty locating the cream and wondered if she may know in what area of the display it might be. She said that she had no idea and promptly left the counter! I was a bit shocked and didn’t really know what to do. Do I walk away without the cream that I came for? Do I go in search for a more helpful attendant? Do I choose a product and hope for the best?
I decided to go in search of more help which I found in a very stressed, more mature lady who apologised profusely for the previous assistant. The poor lady was trying to provide customer service over 4 counters to 3 different people. I said that I was happy to wait for when she was free, and when she came over I asked if they were always this short staffed. She said that 3 people had called in sick and they had only provided one temp for her who was the young lady I’d encountered earlier. My experience of the Myer brand in this instance was not a good one. I left the store frustrated and amazed that an upmarket brand would be so short staffed on a Sunday. This bad experience highlighted to me how good my Target experience was.
Understanding your market and their needs is critical in offering a good brand experience. Do your clients like to be entertained, educated or self directed? Knowing how your customer likes to buy will help you create an experience that will be memorable for them.
If you are online, make it easy for people to navigate through your site and to purchase products. The policy of ‘one click away’ has so much merit. People are fickle and will leave your site if the experience becomes too hard. When selling online, ensure that your communication is clear and concise at all times. Making it easy for your clients to follow the process will ensure a much more pleasant brand experience. Sending confirmation emails or SMS’s about what has been purchased and when their due delivery date will be, is almost expected these days, but it’s surprising how many businesses don’t do this.
Creating an amazing brand experience often boils down to personalised service. How do you as a brand make your client feel as though they are important, looked after, yet still in control? If your brand experience isn’t working – change it! You’ll know when you’re creating the correct experience as people will talk about it and they will keep coming back!
If you are needing any help building or developing your brand, contact our award winning team on 1300 722 896 or email us.
Written by branding specialist Debbie O’Connor
Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker