Everyone wants a great Brand Image. They want their product or service or organization to be in demand, popular, desired, and the envy of all the competition. Sounds a lot like what we boys wanted when we were in junior high. Back then everyone had a suggestion on how you could attain that status.
“Act cool,” your buddies said. “Grow your hair long,” suggested your cousin. “Go out for football,” offered your brother.
All of these seemed like great ideas until I actually spoke to a girl for the first time. I was sweating so profusely and acted so awkward that my newly acquired cool image went down the drain in seconds. The experience was embarrassing for me and probably nauseating for the girl.
Your Brand Image can go through a similar process. If you’re creating the marketing messages, you probably think the right commercial, ad or blog will make you the hottest property in Hollywood. If you designed the website, you probably think your company’s Brand Image has only you to thank.
But in reality, once you actually convince one person to try your product or service — and they attempt to engage, try or actually buy or use it — it’s all about one thing: BRAND EXPERIENCE.
Now if you read the formal descriptions of Brand Experience, you’ll see lots of phrases like “interacting with the product” and words like “touchpoints.” A touchpoint is a place, artifact or interface where a person comes in contact with a brand.
Frankly, that’s a lot of “blah, blah, blah” to me. Let me describe a true version of Brand Experience —
You and your spouse go to a restaurant. The wait is short and you get a table with a view. The waiter is pleasant, but not too chatty. Service is prompt. The food is delicious and fills you up, but you don’t feel stuffed. The bill comes, and it’s less than you expected. You go home satisfied and happy.
Now THAT is a Brand Experience. It’s the Brand Experience you had with that restaurant. You may not be verbalizing it or jumping up and down and clicking your heels on the way to the parking lot, but somewhere along the line, you’re saying to yourself, “Hmm, that was nice. I’ll do that again. I have to tell my friend Joe about that.”
Of course, it could go the other way also. You could have had a terrible meal, bad service, a long wait. Or maybe everything was as mediocre as plain oatmeal. That was your Brand Experience. And that experience, more than anything else — more than advertising, social media, giveaways, friend endorsements — determines the image you have of that brand.
You will continue to have that Brand Image — based on that Brand Experience — until another Brand Experience changes that image. What you do after — recommend or condemn, like or blast on Facebook, give 2 stars or 4 stars on Yelp, go back every week, or never go back again — is determined largely by that Brand Experience.
Remember, in junior high, you might grow your hair long and play football to try to impress the girls. In business, you can do great ads and send out clever tweets. But in both cases, if the target audience does not have a great Brand Experience, you’re going to spend some Saturday nights alone. ##