From when we wake up to the time we go to bed, we’re exposed to between 5,000 and 10,000 marketing messages, from labels to commercials to pop-up banners. If it sounds like a lot, and it probably does, that’s the point. We’ve trained our brains to ignore most, if not all, of them. If not, we’d probably go insane. But to build a brand, you need people to stop and take notice.
We’re seeing a major shift from content-based marketing to experience-centered branding that works the same way human relationships do. We should build brands the same way we build a friendship. When an organization replicates the different types of interactions that bond our closest relationships and instill them into their company culture and brand promise, the result is a stronger business.
Here are a few suggestions how to build a brand based on those types of experiences.
Think big. Stay small. What makes our relationships with our closest friends and relatives so great isn’t the big, monumental things they do for us. It’s the small, daily interactions that give those relationships meaning and reinforce them.
Ultimately, we trust what we experience. Believing in a brand means interacting with it in these small, meaningful ways. Companies are building successful brands that think "big picture'' but build in the small. What you tweet, how you design your lobby, the way your packaging open, all add up. When Lyft drivers hand candy to a passenger, they’re not just offering a perk. They are building an experience.
Add a personal touch. The ocean of data now available to companies about their customers allows them to market with greater personalization but no amount of information (for now, at least) can replace genuine human engagement. It’s important in the world of big data that we don’t lose sight of personal touch and humanity, which is what really matters.
Take Warby Parker. They’ve got a great product, a big vision, and a mission to distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need with each purchase.
Their customer experience extends to their newsletters. They talk about their products but also tell you the books they’re reading and the movies they’re watching. That’s friendly, turning a traditional touch point that most of us would disregard as spam into a small, meaningful opportunity to connect.
Don’t broadcast. Interact. Consumers aren’t indiscriminate anymore. They’re buying things that add value to their lives. They’re choosing products and brands like friends. Companies today need to interact with customers like friends but usually don’t, instead entering the shouting match with a massive global campaign. The solution can be much simpler, not to mention less expensive.
Companies today can make a big impact without big media buys by learning how to engage their audience in new ways instead of just talking at them. Old Spice understands this better than anyone.
Recently, the male hygiene brand conducted an experiment on Twitter that extended the playfulness of Old Spice in a creative way. From the Old Spice Twitter account, the brand asked, “How many fingers am I holding up?” The account crafted responses in real time with Photoshopped pictures that matched people’s often-outlandish answers. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
What many dismiss as nothing more than trivial exchanges are what end up building stronger connections and brands. These exchanges don’t have to be about your product but they have to reinforce a relationship.
Whether your organization is big or small, new or old, start building it based on the types of experiences we all look for in our best relationships. Focus on the small, seemingly trivial interactions. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Interact with them. Make them smile. Even if it’s just for a split second, add some value to their day. You’ll turn some heads.