Brand Friction: The key to unlocking the complexities of customer experience


The concept of “positive brand friction” and how it can be used to improve customer experience and unlock growth is explored in a new report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

The report looks at the complexities and tensions involved in customer experience and offers a four-step tool and a new formula to “unlock the value of this significant area”.

“Positive Brand Friction” is being launched today (October 14) as part of the IPA-led virtual EffWorks Global 2020 Conference, at which the report’s author, Nick Milne, will talk through the findings.

Readers will also be interested in reading the interview featured in BrandKnew with Roger Dooley, the author of the best selling book Friction at

The report is based on interviews and online workshops with customer experience consultancies, marketing, media, advertising and marketing-services agencies, and brands. Overall, the report concludes, customer experience should not be seen simply as a cost centre because, when managed effectively, its value can be measured in commercial performance.

By breaking down customer experience into its components, the report puts forward the idea of “positive brand friction”, and its value in unlocking growth potential. Author Milne describes the concept as “purposefully slowing the experience down in a way that accentuates the brand and positively impacts the experience without making it harder for the customer”.

He then goes on to outline four areas of focus for brands to focus on to overcome identified customer experience tensions.

Experience Intelligence and Measurement: measurement, reporting and insight with the aim of opportunities to improve the experience, predict the benefit, and measure the outcome.

Experience Collaboration: Introducing organisational agility based around a strong customer focus, and moving away from the idea of any one individual being responsible for customer experience.

Brand Friction and Effort Balance: Ensuring the right balance of positive brand friction without impacting negatively on customer effort. This includes a new formula that can calculate the Experience Value.

Experience Leadership, Influence and Accountability: The marketing department to develop its role as the experience leader and influencer, helping the organisation deliver both customer and business value.

This last point is critical, says the report. If marketing can make the case that creating moments of positive brand friction is the key to unlocking growth potential, then it needs to become more influential in an organisation’s customer experience programme.

This article first appeared in

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