The new rules of engagement in brand experience


Just as digital has transformed markets, it is now transforming how brand value is built, by shifting the centre of gravity from mass storytelling towards personal connected experiences. Dom Boyd, founder of DADA consultancy, introduces the latest issue of Admap which shines a light on what it takes to win in this new era.

These are extraordinary times. We’re at the foothills of a new era, the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

An era that Professor Klaus Schwab characterises as being differentiated by the speed of technological breakthroughs, the scope and impact of new systems and disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), which are now starting to fundamentally change the way we live and work.

An era where our mobile phones are embedded in our lives as defacto work and entertainment operating systems, where we willingly provide our data in exchange for content and expect immediate access to information about anything, from anywhere, 24/7.

This has upended our relationship with each other, with our employers, and with brands. No more can brands hide behind a carefully crafted wall of words & storytelling. We now judge them through their actions & behaviours, from the personal experiences they provide. And we expect immediate gratification – from its social feed, from its SEO links, its website experience, it’s content relevance, it’s e-commerce delivery fulfilment options and from its customer service channel.

No wonder then that organisations and brands are seeking a new roadmap for how to operate to successfully drive growth. The winning rules of engagement have changed and will continue to evolve as new technologies bring with them new possibilities & customer expectations.

This issue of Admap aims to provide exactly that, through 12 articles from thought-leaders that tackle questions including:

  • how do brand experiences create commercial value?
  • what are the secrets to creating the most powerful brand experiences?
  • how can you avoid potential pitfalls for creating sub-optimal experiences?
  • how do you recover from #experiencefails and setbacks?
  • what is the most effective way to create an experience-led brands in organisations?
  • what can non-digital brands learn from new-generation DTC brands?
  • how do you effectively measure success?

Our leader article ‘Finding power, potential and innovation through brand experience, Laurence Parkes, CEO, Rufus Leonard discusses some of the secrets to designing and creating uniquely powerful brand experiences including identifying ‘hero, near-o and zero moments’ in a customer journey. He also discusses their Brand Experience Index which ranks brands across 5 senses to identify relative competitive opportunities.

In ‘Experience Works, and here’s how’ Mike McCann & Neil Dawson from PublicisSapient share powerful new evidence outlining a new model of measuring the commercial return on brand experience investment, based on Experience Stock, Reputation Stock and Net user Growth. Using this model they show how digital experiences are now the primary source of revenue and growth. They also highlight the importance of developing a long and short-term framework for effectively measuring commercial impact.

In ‘Brand experience should not distract marketers from fundamental brand truths’, Paul Feldwick exposes the fallacy of thinking experiences are in themselves something new. Instead, he argues that they build brands through the same fundamental truths based on the way brands create meaningful patterns of emotionally-driven associations which drive our perceptions & our behaviours.

TSB Bank’s CMO Pete Markey shares his professional reflections on how to rebuild trust and brand equity following a crisis which hugely impacted brand experience and NPS scores. ‘Managing experience in a crisis: Five lessons from TSB, highlights the critical importance of having a strong brand purpose to rally behind, and the power of using human empathy when getting the brand back on track.

Lorna Sommerville, CMO Function of Beauty and Nazia Du Bois, Founder of Ricebowl Strategy give us a ‘Behind the scenes refreshingly candid look at the inner working of DTC brands’. They discuss the differences between DTC and non-DTC brands, in particular the relative importance of digital data in driving insight-led growth and the challenges surrounding balancing short and longer-term KPIs and the importance of creating attribution models.

In ‘All Experiences are not equal: how to build positive experiences for brand growth’, Fiona Blades, President and CEO, MESH Experience argues that share of experience is now more powerful than share of voice at driving commercial growth, and shows evidence highlighting both how building positive brand experiences are the key to driving growth metrics, and – critically – how a neutral experience is negative.

In ‘Islands and connections – creating organisations everyone loves’, Jonathan Lovatt-Young, Founder and principal experience strategist, Love Experience reveals learnings from the frontline in creating digital transformation programmes that work. In particular, how people always trump process. From this insight he also shares a new model for developing brand experience programmes by starting with aligning & connecting people inside an organisation behind experience goals.

Ramzi Yakob, Head of strategy and experience for the Digital Factory, Aviva shares a powerful and provocative new model of how unconscious bias in brand organisations and teams unwittingly builds poor customer experiences by focusing on the functional over the pleasurable aspects of experience. In ‘Experience debt: Eroding brands through customer experience’, he provides tips on how to avoid this negative experience trap.

In ‘Demystifying the brand experience building process’, Darren Coleman, Founder and Managing Consultant of Wavelength Marketing shares a three-stage tool for building brand experiences called The Brand Experience Blueprint. This is based on the brand experience Environment, Essentials and Enablers. He outlines a detailed toolkit of components behind each of these elements and how they fit together to define a brand’s experience.

In ‘The house that strategy built’, Jon Wilkins & Lisa Debonis, Accenture Interactive argue that the role of strategy in the experience age must be to use empathy to spot warning signs in the brand experience and to then align customer experience with organizational P&L’s the lens of clear brand fundamentals. They note nothing works well in the connected world if there’s an Experience Gap: no amount of advertising will save you if your brand’s credo isn’t fulfilled through its experience – so the role of agencies is to invent ideas which bridge the experience gap.

In ‘Oculus is not the answer’, Sanjay Nazerali, Global chief strategy and development officer, dentsu X shares his perspective that the data revolution has reduced human beings to behaviours.  In doing this, we are in danger of forgetting that our behaviour is driven by motivations.

Finally, in ‘Immersive etiquette: Five marketing rules for virtual worlds’, Rory Byrne, Business Director, Imagination argues that in an increasingly immersive world, it is imperative to experiment with new technology and multi-sensory digitisation that brings sensory elements to the physical environment including audio, visual, sensory replication, and haptics. He outlines fives rules for brands to succeed in this new 4D immersive world.

Together, this collection of articles provides evidence-born stimulus that can help your brand thrive in the new Experience era through asking better questions and identifying better potential solutions.


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