Trade Show TalesBlog

The Brand Experience: Word on the Street — Nov. 21st thru Nov. 25th

November 27th, 2011 1 COMMENT
Brand Experience

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Have you ever worked with a client who obsesses about “Brand Experience”? That’s been my week. We just completed a very large retail project for a client whose brand experience is just as important as their products, if not more so.

When I was much younger, I trained and worked for Nordstrom. Nordstrom was obsessed with customer service, and every day was a new lesson in catering to customers and understanding how to anticipate their needs. Did Nordstrom carry superior products? Absolutely! But their brand was (and continues to be) exceptional customer service. You expect that experience when you walk through their doors.

Brand Experience is defined as . . .

Sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments. A brands experience scale includes four dimensions: sensory, affective, intellectual, and behavioral. Moreover, brand experience affects consumer satisfaction and loyalty directly and indirectly through brand personality associations.

Nike is another Northwest company that has done far better than most in creating their Brand Experience. When you walk into a Nike Store you feel one or all of the following:

  • How can I live an active lifestyle
  • How can I improve my workout
  • I feel inspired to start exercising
  • I feel like an athlete
  • I want to swing a baseball bat, go for a run, or shoot hoops

Nike has several levels of stores: Nike Town, Nike Outlet Stores, Nike Factory Stores, and of course if you live in the Northwest, the ever-exclusive Nike Employee Store which is invite only.

I appreciate how the Nike stores, and all the Nike retailers, such as Dick’s or Sports Authority, carry the same Brand Experience. It does not matter if you are at the Nike Outlet in Florida, Nike Town on Michigan Avenue, or the Nike department at Dicks Sporting Goods. Their brand, and the way they display it, carries the same message and experience.

Disney is another great example. Whether you are walking into Disneyland or the Disney Store at your mall, you experience the same emotions and thoughts.

  • You feel part of the magic
  • All your senses are stimulated
  • You feel like a child regardless of your age
  • You want to use your imagination
  • You feel warm and safe

Creating a sustained brand experience is tough. It requires vision and discipline. Too often, marketing departments want to chase the latest fad or tamper with the brand to fit a “cool” idea. But, brands and the experience have to evolve as well. Look at Geico. They’ve managed to create multiple identities, riding each one only as long as the idea sparks interest (or no longer fails to annoy).

Other companies have/had a superior brand experience, but that brand experience is dated or dead. Saturn took their experience for granted and it lost its meaning as GM tampered with the product mix and the message. Buick, on the other hand, has been transformed. The codger-mobile, long reserved for grandpa’s, bankers, and southern preachers, has been taken off life support and is now suitable for anyone without a pacemaker or stents.

While I could give examples all day long (Apple, Starbucks, Target), I would like to hear what your favorites are or where you have seen Brand Experiences come to life — the best and worst. Who succeeds . . . Who fails?

Have a wonderful week. I look forward to your comments.

–Kevin Carty

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One Response to “The Brand Experience: Word on the Street — Nov. 21st thru Nov. 25th”

  1. Kevin,

    Thank you for this.

    All too often in this space I hear supposed ‘exhibit marketing firms’ refer to a Client’s brand and it is obvious they have no idea what they are talking about. I even listened to someone spend a whole meeting using the word “brand” like a period, once in every sentence. After the meeting I asked him to define brand, and he replied “you know, logos and stuff”.

    It’s like that scene in The Coca-Cola Kid where Eric Roberts basically says (and I paraphrase); When someone in any of the 80+ countries where we bottle and sell our brown bubbly liquid opens that distinctive bottle and pours it in a glass over ice they know before it touches their lips exactly what they are getting. Like you said, that’s a brand. It is a promise of what the client can expect. You mentioned Nordstrom’s. I was there a few weeks ago and saw this sign on the door;

    From our family to yours,
    Happy Thanksgiving.
    We like celebrating one holiday at a time,
    so you won’t find our halls decked
    until Friday, November 26.
    Join us then, when we open our doors
    to a festive new season.
    We are closed Thanksgiving Day.

    It’s not logos, or colors, or taglines. It’s whether the client can count on you to deliver what they expect, the way they expect, consistently.

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