Tim Youngman: Brand experience and focusing on the real meaning

Times Square, New York City

Times Square, New York City - Credit: Getty Images/Ingram Publishing

The term “brand experience” is often misused and miss quoted. Academically speaking it’s the experience your brand gives a consumer and so how they emotionally react or connect with it. This is based on whether it fulfils and is responsive to their needs, and very simply how it makes them feel. Retailers spend millions trying to get that bit right when you walk into a store. Unfortunately it has now also become a catch all phrase that encompasses a whole new area of marketing.

Many brands are now creating activities and events that allow consumers to experience a brand. This used to be the lady in the supermarket handing out the latest spread on a crumb of a cracker or the thimble of a new drink to try. Today this has evolved to a whole new level.

The best example of this comes from brand giants Procter & Gamble who in 2006 launched Charmin Restrooms at New York’s Times Square. These promised the best bathroom experience in the entire city. Over 400,000 consumers visited the restrooms in the first year of opening and US sales increased by 14%.

If you have ever been to Dublin you have probably visited the Guinness Storehouse. This is one big brand experience, not a tourist attraction as it’s often mistaken and presumed as. Land Rover has a global brand experience director. They plan to get 2m customers taking part in branded experience events by 2020 offering a range of experiences including Land Rover Adventure Holidays in 42 global experience centres.

Clearly only big brands have brand experience directors. However every company should be thinking about the academic definition as what is really important. What impression does your brand give to your target audience at every touch point they have with it from when people call you, go on your website or even pick up a leaflet or see an ad? Does it fulfil your customers needs better than the competition and are you responsive to that? Spend time thinking on those and you will be further ahead than your competitors.

Tim Youngman is Director of Marketing for Archant