Branding in the Digital Age is About One Thing…

The following is a guest post by Gabriel Nwatarali of Tech Help Canada.

Effective branding has always been a good indicator of the long-term success of any organisation. However, branding in the digital age is a bit daunting considering there are so many places for consumers to congregate. Simply put, the Internet is forcing branding strategies to rapidly evolve.

The advent of social media, explosion of search engines, and various other technologies have altered consumer behaviour. People now use several types of devices and platforms to access information (e.g. entertainment, educational, products, etc.). Today branding in the digital age is about creating memorable brand experiences if you want to earn their attention.

Company Branding and Brand Experience

Branding is the practice of making an organisation easily identifiable, distinguishable, and memorable. Everything from your business name, logo design, tagline, communications, etc. are all aspects that make up your brand.

Brand experience refers to how customers feel about your business. This includes every interaction with your products or services, marketing messaging, and the memories they have concerning the company.

Furthermore, worth noting is that improving brand experience begins at the product design phase. For example, Apple cares a great deal about product design and it shows. That’s a big reason why consumers use their products. Addressing experience begins during product design. This is an important aspect of brand experience that can be missed.

Good brand experiences bring about positive consumer interactions, brand awareness, and customer loyalty.

Memory and Experience

Address all possible consumer pain points regarding your products and/or services. Sounds good, right? But the truth is you can’t get them all and that’s ok too.

However, you can remove “friction” to increase efficiency and quality. With friction being anything that removes energy from a system or process over time. Good business systems facilitate memorable brand experiences.

For instance, imagine for a moment that Starbucks required every customer to purchase their drinks using its mobile app. That would surely reduce the number of people willing to buy a Starbucks coffee. Plus it’s downright bad customer service. In this scenario, they’ve essentially introduced friction to their business.

The thing is people gravitate towards pleasure more than they do pain and that’s not expected to change. So the memory they create about your company will be the deciding factor for any return engagement. Also, worth mentioning here is that friction is often an opportunity to create a memorable brand experience.

Our “Two Selves”

You may have heard the old saying, “the first impression is everything”. Well, the end phase of an experience is what shapes our memories, not the first impression. Even though that’s equally important.

Daniel Kahneman, an Israeli-American psychologist, and economist revealed the idea of two selves in his TED2010 presentation. The experiencing self and remembering self.

He had conducted studies in the 90s on patients undergoing colonoscopy where each person reported their level of pain every 60 seconds. The patient who dealt with pain longer (patient B) reported suffering less than the one who felt pain for less than 10 minutes (patient A). 

Logically, whoever experiences pain the most must have suffered more, right? However, that wasn’t how these patients thought about the procedure.

Mr. Kahneman deduced the reason was that patient B experienced less pain at the end-phase of their colonoscopy. Patient A experienced more pain at the end of theirs. Both patients had different stories based on the end phase of their procedure.

By now, you can probably see how this relates to creating memorable brand experiences. Consumers care about the beginning and end phase of their experience. However, it’s the end-phase that ultimately determines whether or not they’ll become loyal customers and advocates of your brand.

Think about a time where you purchased a product that wasn’t exactly as described. You were probably happy during the shopping and purchase phase of acquiring the given item. So it’s within reason to assume that your entire experience during those stages is why you bought the product.

But, you probably only remember the product as junk or crap based on the post-purchase phase. Regardless of whether it may have been an infrequent event on the given company’s part.

Memory is what we keep and pain will ruin memories, especially if it’s felt at the end of our experience. A bad first impression can be turned around with a great ending. Hence, the phrase, “never judge a book by its cover”.

Here’s another example regarding this matter. Quite often, people only remember the horrible breakup in a relationship, not the good times they had together. However, many will remember the good times too if a breakup was mutually agreed on or done pleasantly.

Creating Memorable Brand Experiences

Let’s go back to our example with the product that wasn’t as described. Now let’s assume that the company in question had a no-lose guarantee. Where they gave you a replacement and refunded 20 percent of your purchase fee. Would you still remember the brand negatively? Probably no. Plus you’ll remember that experience as being positive.

Let’s look at some tips that’ll help you facilitate memorable brand experiences.

1. Who’s Your Customer?

You must know the kind of audience you’re trying to reach. This increases the likelihood that your marketing messages will be well received. Also, you should go beyond personas or having a good sense of the customer to facilitate memorable brand experiences.

Every consumer wants his or her desires met. Ever wondered why a loyal customer suddenly switches to another brand? This often occurs because the competitor addressed their desires faster than you could. So intricately knowing your target audience demands research into their desires.

Here’s an example of how you can tap into audience desires.

A recent study by Edge Research, on behalf of the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, found that boomers are more charitable. With this data, a business that’s targeting the baby boomer generation could offer up some of its revenue to charity.

Something like donating five percent of every sale to a charity of their choice should further encourage favourable actions from that audience. The audience will naturally feel incredible with every purchase, knowing that five percent of their money is going to a charitable cause.

2. Use Stories

Humans have used storytelling since the Stone Age and in the digital era, it’s just as important. A great way of creating memorable brand experiences is by telling relatable stories. However, don’t forget that people will remember your story based on how it ends.

Use stories to demonstrate how your product/service solves the consumer’s problem. Then do everything to make sure there’s a desired ending after purchase. That may mean having 24/7 customer service or tech support, a 100 percent money-back guarantee, long-term warranties, etc. You can’t make everyone happy but try to ensure satisfaction.

Preferably, make it a habit to always add stories to your content. For example, a professional blogger who regularly shares personal stories is creating memorable experiences.

3. Consistency and Repetition

You have to be consistent with your overall company messaging and repeat it as often as possible. This helps your business capture consumer attention and facilitate memorable brand experiences. Repetition and consistency trigger the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (also known as recency or frequency illusion).

This refers to when people interact with something and begin to notice more of it. For example, car dealerships almost always offer a test drive and usually on a car that the salesman suggests.

Typically what happens after the test drive is that you’ll begin to notice the car everywhere. That’s because your brain is now looking for it. This is the Baader-Meinhof effect at play. Part of the aim of car dealerships is to trigger this it in you.

In other words, our minds tend to start noticing the things we’ve paid attention to more frequently. So consistency and repetition concerning your approach to brand marketing are key. Things like your tone of voice, the kinds of content you publish, logo, etc. should be consistent.

This is why many organisations never completely redesign their logos. Instead, they keep it recognisable to its predecessor but modern.

Tip: Use online remarketing or retargeting to trigger the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

4. Focus Attention

How can you focus consumer attention in the most effective way possible?

That question should be on your mind with everything you do. From product design to marketing to user interaction, always strive to focus the consumer’s attention. This is an important part of creating memorable brand experiences.

5. Trigger The Right Emotions

Triggering the right emotions enhances brand experience. In fact, using emotion is practically a sure-fire way of creating memorable brand experiences. That’s partly why companies try to introduce their products on TV commercials, using familiar things that can potentially trigger the right emotional memories.

Here’s an example. A Coors Light beer commercial involving the ocean may cause the recollection of a time when you visited the beach. So you might pick up a Coors Light on your next grocery run even though it isn’t the usual beer choice.

Now if the beer tastes great, you’ll always remember that. However, if it taste like piss, you’ll remember that too and won’t be buying it again. You always remember the end.

Here are some examples of emotions you may want to trigger.

  • Fear
  • Trust
  • Warmth
  • Instant gratification
  • Laughter
  • Sadness
  • Competition
  • Confidence
  • Belonging
  • Anger
  • And more

Each feeling can be triggered with the proper kind of content. Things like funny videos, a sad melody, an article that’s rich with storytelling, etc. Emotion is a powerful tool because people generally don’t buy logically, except, in circumstances where they’re forced to do so.

Most of us buy emotionally. You can see this in action when teens purchase items they saw a rapper or other celebrity wearing regardless of outrageous pricing.

6. Brand Personality

Every brand should take on a personality while interacting with the public. Ideally, you should pick a personality that’s similar to your overall target audience. There will be nuances but the goal is to come close.

There are five main brand personalities and these are as follows.

  • Exciting
  • Sincerity
  • Ruggedness
  • Competence
  • Sophistication

All of these prime personalities have several traits. For example, a company may choose to adopt a funny personality when communicating with consumers. Being funny is a trait of excitement.

Branding in The Digital Age is About Memorable Experiences

Today there are many more companies competing for the same ‘eyeballs’ or consumer attention. The Internet has made it possible for smaller organisations to compete on an almost equal footing. That means getting the best results from brand marketing is about giving your customers memorable experiences.

What’s your utility? Why should my time be spent here? Do you care about my problems? These are some of the questions consumers ask consciously or subconsciously (not in those exact words).

Memories are made through experience but the end of our experiences determines how we remember them. The experiencing self and remembering self work together but the latter makes the final decision concerning how your brand is perceived. You can use the information laid out in this article to begin a process for improving brand experience.

Author Bio

Gabriel Nwatarali is an experienced online marketing expert and founder of Tech Help Canada, a digital marketing agency. He enjoys contributing insights on marketing and business, including the technologies behind them.

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