How to brand the customer experience

We’re moving away from conspicuous consumption. Less buying things and instead more buying access to things. Many people don’t want a car, they simply want to go places. The role of brand is no longer about logos and labels, or quality of product. Instead, it is the meaningful role you play in somebody’s life—it is the experience of the interaction between consumers and brands.

Designing experiences

For those doing it well, the rewards speak for themselves. LEGO’s experience combines the ingredients of creativity and entertainment with a warm welcome, to build the reality that everyone knows today. And Lynk & Co, the ‘un-car’ experience for people who actively dislike cars, combines rule-breaking and fun to become not only distinctive and different, but the fastest-selling car of all time.

Designed by FITCH

Even brands as unique as Apple shift their experience to match the times. In 2013 it changed its game: Tim Cook cracked China, former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts took over the stores, the product suite got a complete upgrade and it became a watch company. Underlying all this was a shift away from being a community hub towards a renewal of its creative credentials. Data shows that consumers started to expect something different from Apple. No longer just a friendly gathering place, it was becoming a way for creative people to explore their options.

Apple AirPod Pro Launch, Tokyo

Many major brands talk about “customer experience”, but it is difficult to codify or monitor different types of experiences, and to fully understand if they meet customer expectations. Brands need to consider and interrogate experience in the same way they design products and services, ensuring they fulfill customers’ fundamental needs.

And so brands need Experience Themes—a way to configure the physical, human and digital elements to fit real people, with ready-made instructions on how to construct everything from their social media presence, to the place where a customer buys, to the goodbye ‘ritual’ they receive on the way out, to the final joy that it did what they wanted it to do.

FITCH’s experience take-outs:

1. Synchronize with real human needs

We see recognize four fundamental human needs: comfort, belonging, independence and progress. All brand experiences should ladder back to these needs and thereby create deep relationships with customers.

2. Don’t just guess, use the data

Datasets can reveal what consumers believe and what they want. For example, BrandZ’s global consumer data can help us to understand what 650,000 consumers expect from 23,000 brands globally across 257 categories. This provides insight into how people see you and your competitors, revealing the challenges and opportunities for your brand. Of course, as we’ve seen elsewhere, small data can also help you uncover killer insights.

3. Build your signature

The unique way your brand goes to market is your signature, in all its physical, human and digital touchpoints. Your brand experience must be imbued with your signature, just the same as a retail store, website, event or any customer communication.