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Experiencing the Brand

corporate  identityAs more channels are proliferating through the invention of the iPad and the rise of mobile advertising, consumers have more opportunities to interact with brands. This is leading some brands to experiment more with experiential marketing. No longer just limited to in-store sampling, some leading brands are developing ways that consumers can engage with the deeper meaning of the brand.

One way that all brands are having success in engaging consumers is through providing extra value.  By giving the consumer something she wants, the brand can insert itself into the conversation in a meaningful way.  Here are five examples of how brands have created extra value for consumers:

Memories. American Girl Place allows families the opportunity to share experiences while shopping for historical-themed dolls and era-specific accessories.  This mecca for tweenage girls features doll hairstylists, historical-themed parties, and matching dresses for girls and their dolls.  It even has a cafe where families can share a meal, complete with doll-sized food and chairs.  By developing a space where girls and their families can create memories, American Girl has built a successful shopping destination.

Community. Nike created a program – Nike Plus – that runners can use to track and share their runs.  (We wrote about it a few months back.) This has allowed Nike to build a community of runners who sign up for challenges and comment on each others’ runs.  By building a community, Nike has created an online destination where avid runners can share their experiences with like-minded people, amplifying the experience.

Unexpected Value. The ING Direct Cafe offers tasty and low-priced drinks that compare to fancier coffee shops.  While enjoying their drinks, patrons can surf the internet and learn more about accounts with ING.  Since ING charges a competitive price for each drink, the bank is able to introduce potential customers to the brand without making huge investments in media.  Customers seem to be happy as well – the bank’s cafe in Chicago has 4.5 stars on Yelp (a score half a star higher than a nearby Starbucks).

Entertainment. The World of Coca-Cola provides an incredibly fun experience.  Between a minigolf course and a tasting room where a visitor can sample drinks from around the world, guests at this Atlanta attraction are able to experience branded fun.  Like American Girl Place, the World of Coca-Cola focuses on providing an entertainment experience that links consumers to their brand.  Since the Coca-Cola brand represents happiness, this attraction does a great job at tying itself to this emotion.

Pure Utility. Needing to use the restroom is a fact of life, and it can be hard to find a clean restroom when out all day shopping.  Charmin realized this, and built temporary restrooms in Times Square during the holiday season.  The restrooms were cleaned after each use, guaranteeing a good customer  experience. These restrooms were a success because they found a consumer need and then leveraged the brand to create a solution.

For brands, especially CPGs, sampling can still be a very important marketing tactic (after all, having a taste of a food product can be a great experience), but expanding beyond this to provide an extra value can be great for boosting brand health.

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