Take a moment to think of your favorite brands—the logo, products and services, and presence in brick-and-mortar stores and virtual marketing. Whether that list includes Google, Nike, or Coca-Cola, your favorite brands evoke specific feelings and a sense of connection. Your experience with these companies has been designed a certain way based on the way you, their customer, will interact with their products and services, which is what experiential design is all about. Every touch point with your company is a chance to make a valuable impression.'Every touch point with your company is a chance to make a valuable impression.' - Kristen Bryan, id8 Click To Tweet
Why Choose Experiential Design?
Creating a brand using experiential design allows the branding process to remain customer-focused on wants and needs, developing brand trust and loyalty. Because people are driven by emotion and use logic to support their views, creating compelling content in branding is imperative. It’s been said that customers want experiences, not products, and could just as easily switch to a competitor to show their disappointment over a bad interaction. And for you, that could be choosing Apple over Google, Puma over Nike, and Pepsi over Coca-Cola.
Consistency is key in any brand experience, from the first time a customer contacts a business to ultimately purchasing goods. Every step in the process should be memorable and on-brand, and should drive audiences to continue interacting with the brand. And, if every interaction is catered specifically to the audience, they will begin to see the brand as a solution to their need.
Where Does Experiential Design Start?
Because experiential design is creating a brand through the eyes of the customer, the process begins before even stepping foot in the building. When a customer wants to purchase goods or services, they travel to a location that sells it. So, the experience of simply finding the building should be branded, including wayfinding and signage, upkeep of the building and landscape, and even the area in which the building is located. Before the customer even sees the product or service, they should immediately have a feeling of who the company is based on just traveling to the location alone.
Once inside the building, how does the company make the customer feel? Does the building have a distinct smell or use candles? Are the furniture and décor up-to-date? Are they greeted with a warm, friendly welcome by a receptionist? If the space conveys the business’s brand poorly, the customer will have a negative experience and adversely impact their experience. However, if the space captures the brand story, it sets a solid foundation for a positive experience.
As part of their rebrand, Spectra Gutter Systems applied experiential design to improve the appearance their customer pickup showroom to help connect with their customer. Designers assessed every step of interaction with the brand, from entering the parking lot to walking to the door, and filling out paperwork and placing the order. The review during this process revealed Spectra’s showroom lacked a calculated purpose of educating who Spectra is and their importance. To create a better customer experience, Spectra installed a new graphic on a large bare wall exposed during the pickup process to inspire contractors and employees entering the area. The graphic, which includes an inspirational quote “Conquer your day” overlaid on a black and white photo collage, speaks to Spectra’s 40-year history and success as an American family and veteran-owned company.
How Will I Benefit?
Like Spectra, aligning your brand with the needs of your customer and developing relationships creates a tremendous opportunity for growth outside of traditional marketing. When people believe in a brand, they want to share their opinion wherever they can, especially on social media channels. However, the same stands for those who have poor experiences, and bad news can travel quickly. When your customers have a positive experience, they become brand ambassadors, effectively spreading your brand’s message and making connections outside of your personal reach.
First impressions truly are everything when it comes to experiential design. When done well, this process will positively impact the entire brand experience and create customers for life. Branding is the art of differentiating yourself from the competition, and your brand should seamlessly flow through every touchpoint. Take marble slab creameries for example. Anyone can go to the store to buy their favorite pint of ice cream, but people will choose to go to their local ice cream shop for not only the flavor but also the experience and tradition. From the second they walk onto the property, they see themed furniture, hear summer music vibes, and smell the waffle cones being cooked. Then, they get to experience the art of creating their own ice cream the way they choose: one or three scoops in whatever flavor they want, in a cone or a cup, and all the mix-ins they could dream of. This experience alone draws its customers to choose them over a local grocery store. The distinctions can even come down to different creameries themselves—one could focus more on a California ambiance, where another could focus more on creating old-time ice cream and soda bar shop feel—and every aspect of the experience will reflect this.
With today’s business environment centered around customer interaction, using experiential design in branding has proved successful in creating an impactful brand. It creates an emotional connection with the customer, provides a solution to their specific need, and develops brand loyalty.