A cup of Joe, the rich aroma of freshly ground coffee beans, my favorite corner table, and several newspapers and magazines to pick from kick starts me into a working mode. It is now part of my routine to embark on daily quests and chores, AFTER a brief stop at my local Starbucks – despite their average quality coffee.
So, why the pilgrimage, you ask? What does Starbucks has to offer that keeps me (and a million others) going back to it? To me, it gives an excellent brand experience. The company consistently provides its customers with the same quality coffee in their iconic ‘Siren’ logo cups throughout the world. Their prime locations, baristas, working Wi-Fi, social activism, frequent meetings and hang-outs, and the touch of local culture and taste are the ingredients which make a great recipe for the classic Starbucks experience.
Why We Should Design Brand Experiences
Brand experiences are made up of all the interactions a customer has with the company. There are several ways in which a customer intermingles with the brand of their choice called ‘touch points’. It might be a label on the bottle of your favorite drink, the popping sound it makes when you open the cap, the texture you feel when you hold it, the taste and smell of it, any advertisements you see on the road or on your television set, they are all part of your brand experience. Marty Neumeier explains touch points as:
But, brand experience is not only how the use of a product makes you feel about the brand. It is, in totality, the cognitions, feelings, sensations, confidence and behavioral feedback aroused by a brand’s design and identity, marketing, packaging, communications and environment.
Luckily we can design brand experiences that will retain the loyalty of customers, while enticing more people to choose their brand over competitors. After all, that is the end-game and purpose of every company. To achieve this objective, companies must continually evolve their implemented design for customers to easily communicate and identify with the brand. William Shakespeare, over four hundred years ago, had excellent advice for brand owners:
“See first that the design is wise and just: that ascertained, pursue it resolutely; do not for one repulse forego the purpose that you resolved to effect.” – William Shakespeare
What lesson(s) do we gain from the greatest poet and playwright to have ever lived? Companies must be consistent. Many companies often produce excellent products, provide decent customer service, and allocate considerable portions of the budget to marketing and advertisement, yet do not make enough sales. That is where designers come in – to make the brand experience exciting and alluring, to complete the package.
What is Involved in Brand Experience Design?
To create a brand experience that would immediately capture consumers’ attention and retain it for a long time, designers must concoct an all-inclusive design strategy. This strategy should incorporate a brand name, logo, web content, online user experience friendliness, product design, marketing and advertisement campaigns, even the script for automated on-call communication. All constituent features that make up for a sublime brand experience must be carefully designed to show consumers that the company understands and cares for them, cherishes their trust, and provides the best of what they have to offer.
Famous Brand Experience Designed to Woo Customers
Some famous brands certainly have much to teach us. For instance, what image pops in your mind when you hear of a fizzy, sugary drink? Coca Cola and their world renowned logo have imprinted themselves in our mind. So, hang outs and parties with friends are not complete without Coca Cola. Their trick: standardized bottle shape and texture that is easy to hold and drink from, a secret recipe that they use all over the world, and the bitter-sweet taste of cold, fizzy drink we love to have on hot days.
Every Apple outlet is a brand experience designed to perfection. From the docks to the display of new gadgets in their pristine and minimalist packaging designs all scream of class. When you hold an Apple product, you feel sophisticated, distinctive and expensive. Little do Apple fans realize, all of these have not only been designed to attract with visual appeal but the senses too.
The feeling of elation, power and control when you sit in an Audi speaks volume about you as an extension of the brand. The connection you have with the car, throttle and raw machine power make you feel you can conquer the world. All these are brand experiences designed to woo you.
What’s the Future of Design for Brand Experience?
In this age of information and technology, trends change every other day and radical modernization, painted with minimalist concepts and ideas, has become the general fashion outline. To walk step by step with people, to establish a relationship of understanding with the customers, companies must transform their brand design to adapt to customer demands – blend in various aspects of everyday customs and style. Jeff Smith, a marketing veteran and expert, said:
“The design process, at its best, integrates the aspirations of art, science, and culture.” – Jeff Smith
Companies are now employing all the resources they can get their hands on to reach out to their buyers. Let it be on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), company web sites, billboards and other forms of outdoor marketing, television and online commercials, merchandising, and even through sponsoring events such as concerts and conferences. Designers must bring all of their innovation and creativity, using all of their skills and tools to chafe out the competition, hew a striking brand image and buck up the interest of the consumers. Buckminster Fuller, a designer and architect, explained the role of a designer as:
“[A designer is] an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.” – Buckminster Fuller
It is, therefore, crucial for companies to understand their customers. The best way to go about that is to gain insight into past trends, present proclivities, and then infer what their customers might demand in the near future. Finally, for brand designing, this knowledge must be fused with the culture, customs and traditions of the land, thus creating a wholesome, powerful and tantalizing brand experience.
Erik Adigard, a designer and media artist adds:
“Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy.” – Erik Adigard