The brand experience is each and every opportunity either to make or break the brand promise. That’s just sixteen short words, knitted into a simple sentence. Within those words, however, lurks a world of complexity, challenge and opportunity.

The brand experience can make life better for people in ways big and small. It can be a thing of beauty that touches people and makes their lives better on a daily basis. It places them — not the product or the service — at the center of the brand universe, on Cloud Nine.

In its ultimate expression, the brand experience can be both an art and a science. It’s an art because of its resolute attention to emotional connections, its amorphous, subjective and often intangible effect on people. It’s a science because it’s about business, and must convert warm and fuzzy feelings into cold, hard cash: sales, profits and growth.

While a great brand experience may be more difficult to deliver for some brands than others, it is never easy. That’s because the brand experience transcends the outlines of the brand itself, the essence of which has been confined to what we traditionally have defined as “marketing.”

Until now.

The difference is that marketing is traditionally limited to the making of the brand promise. The brand experience is about keeping it. That might sound like a nuance but it is not. It is the difference between simply talking and backing up one’s words with actions.

Delivering on the promise is the hard part because every interaction between a brand and its customers is an opportunity to keep the promise, or not. In today’s world, where it seems as though every molecule is a potential “touch point,” the possibility of a breakdown is everywhere, at every time and place — whenever and however the customer craves respect, or just attention.

The upshot: Marketing must be viewed and applied in new ways.

The brand experience, as a concept, is inherently horizontal and holistic. If the brand experience is confined to the marketing department alone it cannot possibly deliver the brand promise. The brand experience must permeate every part of the organization and rally every soul within it.

The opportunity for those who embody the voice of the customer to make their voices heard is greater than ever. The potential for chief marketing officers and other brand-experience leaders to spread marketing thinking enterprise-wide and make it an indelible part of the culture is without limit.

Our time is now.