When you think of your favorite brand, what comes to mind first? Is it the look of the branding design? The feel? The brand experience you’ve had?
Many people believe that for branding to be successful, it must be seen in the public eye (design, videos, etc). Capturing the attention of the public eye and becoming noticed will ascend you up the ladder of success.
Few think of how a brand feels and the experience they’ve had as a result. The feel of a brand stems from interaction in some form.
Physical senses (touch, taste, smell, sound, visual), experiential design, a memorable interaction, etc, all deal with some of the ways we experience brands. Whereas, the impact of a meaningful brand experience doesn’t come from the flashiness of it, but from the authenticity of it.
Authenticity is a word that is thrown around a lot. People are craving an authentic experience that isn’t built solely around the goal to convert to sale or acquire information. We thirst for something real.
A stellar brand experience is the gold at the end of the rainbow.
There are many brands who have built their entire market around being experienced, and they are killing it. Here 5 of our favorites. Take note, each brand offers useful and exciting branding opportunities:
For decades, Red Bull has ensured that their branding style was an experience, and not just a beverage. Their advertisements and infamous slogan, “Red Bull Gives You Wings,” demonstrated to the consumer what Red Bull could help them do, and how it would make them feel. While they not only sold to their desires, they provided the liquid confidence they needed to believe and achieve them. That is something that will stick with a person.
With the emotions in the bag, they took their show on the road and curated events that people could physically experience and participate in like Red Bull Flugtag. The worldwide event where contestants built homemade non-motorized flying vehicles and then launched them off a ramp into a body of water—effectively ruining the vehicle, months of work, and countless dollars—all in the name of the experience.
Red Bull also sponsors athletes and celebrities, publicity stunts, festivals, shows, parties, and on and on. They insert themselves into popular situations as the beverage of choice to the fun-havers and risk-takers.
They knew their customer, and by catering to them, they’ve successfully created an entire culture.
Salt & Straw
Ice cream delivery? Yes, ice cream delivery is what sets Portland’s Salt & Straw apart from the rest. The ice cream that comes to your door, is locally sourced and made. Always handcrafted out of the love for the product and the experience of consuming that product. Talk about authenticity in action. This passion led founders and cousins Kim and Tyler Malek to open up shop. The dream was to create an experience for customers that they desire to be part of and support.
Salt & Straw involves customers, local chefs, local farms, and radical flavors that would pique anyone’s interest. They involve non-employees in their process from conception to consumer. In turn, creating a culture in Portland with 100-deep wait lines, rotating flavors, and a flare of culinary creativity typically reserved for five-star restaurants.
Salt & Straw has created a flavor experience and loyal customers flock to treat their taste buds.
Easily one of the most experiential restaurants in the market, Benihana is known for flaming tower of onions, flipping shrimp into the hats of chefs and mouths of patrons, extraordinary knife skills, and putting on a culinary show for every birthday party, engagement, anniversary, and general celebration. The branding behind Benihana is the idea that food and entertainment go hand in hand.
Benihana has created a well-known brand and experience from their culinary carnival. They proudly serve high-quality food that doubles as an experience all its own.
This type of flare runs in the blood of the family with founder Rocky Aoki recognized as a crazy daredevil entrepreneur and son, DJ Aoki (Steve Aoki), putting on incredible live shows for raving fans.
People know they are in for a show when they book a reservation at Benihana, and it’s the quality and entertainment that keeps them coming back—the “wow” factor, if you will.
Besides the best chicken sandwich you’ve ever tasted, what comes to mind when you think of Chick Fil-A? I bet it’s a pleasing customer service experience. Whether you order through the drive-thru or walk in, Chick Fil-A makes sure that you have a smile on your face the entire experience. They are known as having one of, if not the best, customer service experience in the fast food industry, and that is something that sticks with a customer and keeps them coming back, and can propel a brand very far.
This paired with a laugh-inducing slogan and advertisements that picture cows telling people to “Eat Mor Chikin,” this brand has its bases covered. Chick Fil-A is not only a wonderful place to walk into, it’s also a great place to work! With every store closed on Sunday, they encourage employees to spend time with family, rest, or worship as they please.
There are pros and cons to this strategy, however, and there has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the brand, their employees, and customers. Furthermore, the feeling of exclusivity or even hatefulness towards certain groups becomes present when national corporations enforce ideology. While this was a big deal at one point, it truly represents the phrase, “any publicity is good publicity.”
When Zappos was founded, it was extremely employee-centric and founder Nick Swinmurn treated the company like a large family. Zappos has always been known for its “uncommon service” by going above and beyond for the customer by taking late orders and delivering early in the morning, for example. When Zappos sold to Amazon, it was at a last resort and something that Swinmurn tried to avoid at all costs for fear of letting down his employees.
Zappos is well known for its experiential marketing campaigns, particularly one where Google was ambushed in Austin, TX. Essentially, Google Went to Austin, TX with a cupcake truck where you could get a cupcake in exchange of a photo taken on their new app. Seeing that, Zappos cleverly “ambushed” the idea with box-to-feet stands placed nearby that after dispensing a cupcake you would receive a pair of shoes, a watch, or other Zappos products. A brilliant branding tactic to say the least!
Hubspot defines experiential marketing as “a marketing strategy that invites an audience to interact with a business in a real-world situation. Using participatory, hands-on, and tangible branding material, the business can show its customers not just what the company offers, but what it stands for.”
For all of the brands listed above, this tactic worked, across industries, target market, product, and service. Red Bull sells and supports an entire culture of active individuals. Salt & Straw titillates taste buds with local flavors and draws a crowd. Benihana makes you feel afraid and alive at the same time. Chick Fil-A feels like home. Zappos is loyal and unexpected. One of the sole reasons for the success achieved by these companies is effective experiences through branding.
There are many ways to market your brand. Ensuring the customer will take an emotional piece or a memory home with them is beneficial. This may encourage them to come back time and time again. The impact is significant that word of mouth or a photo can have on social media these days. It’s vital to be aiming for that unbeatable branding experience.
If you’re looking to uplevel the experience factor of your brand, get in touch with us and we’ll guide you from concept to reality.