Beyond Experiential

Without question, a brand’s advertising and its visual identity are part of the brand promise and experience, or at least can be dressed up to appear so. However, it is critical to distinguish between brand experiences and the brand experience.

Brand experiences can be fun moments for the customer. This might be an event of some kind, often referred to as “experiential.” As brands move away from traditional advertising, they move toward “happenings,” increasingly involving social media. It’s a remarkable video or clever tweet that goes viral.

These types of transient experiences constitute much, if not most, of what drives marketing today. It is all very cool, and can make even the dullest brand seem hip, but it still comes down mostly on the side of making promises as opposed to keeping them. It’s the 21st century version of a 30-second television commercial. Don Draper is alive and well, and living on YouTube.

Here’s the thing: Of what value is a momentary, fun, marketing-infused experience, if the day-in, day-out experience with the product or service falls short? It’s limited, at best. At worst, it can be fatal, given that nothing exposes a bad experience faster than good advertising.


One thought on “Beyond Experiential”

  1. The second half of Bill Bernbach’s quote gives this situation, in the modern context of social media, more relevance: “A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it’s bad.” So, as soon as something becomes shared, it has the potential to spread the bad word.

    Yet any company that doesn’t look beyond the “experience” to anticipate and prepare for what comes next almost deserves to be harmed — like the person who saws off a tree limb… from the wrong side. It’s simple science. Every action has a reaction. And if there’s no thought given to what happens next, the brand is very likely to be hijacked and put in a very unflattering light.

    Social media, everyone should realize by now, has consequences. That’s especially true in an era when everyone seems offendable. Whatever goes live, stays live, and no hit man can whack it off the Internet.

    So brands need to be clarivoyant enough to understand what one event has to (or could) lead to and how that next step can either create brand loyalty or cause the sort of harm that no apology can fix.

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