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Our Top 10 Tips for Brand Experience Design

Nick Hall By Nick Hall

Sooner or later you’re going to have to take a long hard look at that debacle you call a customer experience and realize the impact it’s having on customer retention and your brand’s value.

You can’t just keep throwing more money at your advertising and hope it will all go away. Attracting new customers is only getting more difficult and more expensive year after year, and what’s the point of advertising anyway if all you’re really doing is paying for permission to piss people off because you continually fail to live up to their expectations?

So, maybe it’s time to get serious about all this. Maybe it’s time to focus more on what you’re doing to your customer, as opposed to what you’re saying to them. Get the balance right and you end up with what we call a brand experience, which is where the expectations you create in your advertising and marketing are consistently met and occasionally exceeded by the experience you provide.

At Human, the term we use for this alchemy is Stand and Deliver.

Excited? Good. To start you off on the right foot, we’ve put together a list of tips that have proven to be the most valuable for our clients in real-world application. May they prove to be as useful for you too.

1.) Start with your brand essentials

Before you embark on your brand experience design, make sure your brand descriptions are as robust as possible. A clear brand promise (sans bullshit), strong sense of meaning and set of signature emotions will provide you with the foundation you need to bring your brand to life through the experience.

2.) Advise and empower your people

Delivering exceptional experiences is impossible if your employees are not dialed in to the above. Make sure they understand their contribution and worth, give them the autonomy they need to own their role and get the out of their way.

3.) Design with feeling

Any garden variety CX strategy focuses on empathy, but truly branding your customer experience means going deeper by infusing it with a few signature feelings and emotions. These special moments pack a huge punch when it comes to building brand equity and customer loyalty, and because they're built from your brand, they're yours to keep.

4.) Really work the moments of truth

MOTs are milestone moments in your customer’s experience that are deal-breakers if you fail to perform to their expectations. If you’re not sure where these critical moments occur, consider what it is your brand is promising, or just ask your customers. Their answers might surprise you.

5.) Influence what you can’t change

There are always going to be things beyond your control that will impact the customer’s experience, such as sidewalk construction, product back-orders or the odd global pandemic. Do your best to anticipate such issues in advance, and look for ways to offset them when they occur.

6.) Remember the peak-end rule

Human beings recall experiences based on a combination of the peak (or highpoint) of the experience and the end of it. Ask yourselves, is the peak of your experience everything it can be, and what are you doing at the end of the experience to really make a difference?

7.) Start with the easy stuff

Some early wins with your experience design initiative will go a long way towards getting support for the bigger issues that require more time and commitment. Look for improvements that require less resources to keep your innovation cycle short, sweet and to the point. Not sure where to start? Even a rudimentary journey map will open your eyes.

8.) Seek out signature moments

Brand experience design allows for the discovery and creation of truly unique moments within the customer’s experience that are unique to you and set you apart. These signature moments enrich the connection between your brand and your customers because they increase recall. Think about how you can do something different or better (or not at all), and how that reinforces who you are as a brand.

9.) Don’t confuse customer experience with customer service

Customer experience and customer service are not the same thing. The customer experience describes the sum of all of the interactions between your brand and the customer collectively. Customer service is a reactionary fragment of that experience that typically involves front-facing staff helping a customer solve a problem.

10.) Everyone has a part to play

A fully realized brand experience will involve all aspects of your organization at some point. Get everyone on board with a clearly communicated brand strategy, and take the time to really share the vision. You’re more likely to inspire ideas and actions that will contribute to the overall initiative, plus you’ll have the benchmarking criteria in place to make all the right moves.

Stay safe, stay sensible and be human.