When we talk about branding, it goes beyond a basic logo design. We want to communicate and cultivate a broad range of touchpoints that enhance the persona of your business or organization. Customer experience is crucial for business success, and branding helps you maintain consistent customer engagement.

Why is this so important?

Studies show that many young people are increasingly holding higher value in holistic experiences over possessions, and that it’s about access, not ownership. While many millennials may not be out in the workforce making millions just yet, they want to spend what they have wisely. For businesses, this means you have to deliver something more than a product. They expect you to live up to higher expectations and promote authenticity through your lifestyle brand.

These experiences need to be well crafted, targeted and thoughtful in order to make a sustaining impact. Isolated touchpoints simply won’t do the trick.

Your Story is King Queen

Many people do business based on the idea that the product or service sells itself, which can be true in very niche markets where you are only 1 of 10 suppliers in the world. But, as buyer trends shift, an even larger majority decide on who they do business with because they believe in and relate to the brand. They identify with a particular message or aesthetic – and because of that, they gravitate towards others that share in the same values.

When you step back and look at the story you are telling / selling, the tone of your voice and the visuals that represent your products or services, is it consistent with how you feel about your company? Are the adjectives you use to describe your organization represented in your logo, website, blog topics, and customer lifecycle?

Your journey in strategy starts here. Your brand is not your logo, your website, that app or even your company name. It is your story, your ethos, personality and how you make clients/customers/partners/employees/vendors/strangers feel when they interact with you.

Connected Experiences: Art + Science

Customers that feel emotionally connected with a company, staff or brand are more loyal. I am sure that you can relate to this simple truth by asking yourself why you go to the same coffee shop every Friday morning. Sure, they have the best chai latte in the city, but it is more than just that. It is the warm welcome you receive as your local barista greets you, knowing exactly what you want. It’s their customer service, cafe culture and atmosphere that keeps you coming back. This connection goes beyond the caffeine fix you crave as soon as you crawl out of bed. In all likelihood, the chai could be mediocre and you would still love it because you enjoy the space and everything their brand represents.

The ability for you to deliver a meaningful brand experience can be complex, even if you want to go as far as to break it down by behavioral economics (which we won’t go into here and is difficult to master). Described as sensations, feelings, cognitions and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design, identity, packaging, communication and environment, brand experience is a methodical approach to all touchpoints across all marketing channels: social media, web design, sales funnels, customer lifecycles, etc.

“So, Jessi, in layman’s terms, how do you create an experience?”

By mixing art and science and measuring it with proper metrics, and being consistent in every aspect.

Internal Branding: The Art of Culture

I was recently interviewing candidates for a Junior Marketing & Design position and conducted 12 different interviews. Each one was individually unique, varied in ages, gender and skill. We had some open conversations around ethics, portfolio, experience, design theories, marketing strategy, etc (because who likes the dry, structured walk through of a resume). At the end of every interview, I asked each candidate if they had any questions for me. Pretty typical, right?

The surprise came when 9 of the applicants proposed the exact same question (and really, it was their only question): “What is the company culture like?”  Now, being that I am a bit of a data nerd, I of course started investigating this. It’s been a few years since I have done an interview, and I don’t remember a single person asking me that question, let alone it being the singular concern of the majority. So what has changed?

Authenticity changed. With the breakdown of trust between employee and employer, people started wanting more transparency and personalization in the workplace. For many people, this starts with a strong look at your company culture and how you maintain those values.

And just to be clear, they are not looking for buzz words like “respect, reliability, responsibility and quality” on a poster in the break room. That is not authentic to them. They are going to look at the team you have in place, the housekeeping you maintain, the style of humor in the office and the branded messages that you put out into the world.

The struggle is real and although business trends shift as often as topics on Twitter, we think that cultivating authentic branding is here to stay for a while. So, my question to you is what experiences are you cultivating?