Adapt or Die

The brand landscape is constantly changing and to survive, brands must adapt. Darwin was on to something when he observed: “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed”. Brands have constantly adapted through the many shifts of the marketscape – from product to emotion, and to the latest - user experience.

Brands must define their Experiential Selling Proposition and they must do it within an environment where consumers have unprecedented choice and transparency in the marketplace. In the past two eras, the brand owners had an information advantage over consumers. But, consumers today are all-knowing and all-powerful and this means that brands must manage a complex system of value that requires them to understand how every action of the brand – from product to service to environmental impact to technology and marketing – come together to make up the experience.

The way a brand will adapt and survive in this era is to innovate across its entire system in order to build a constantly valuable experience for its customers. With more and more choice in the marketplace and fewer ways to differentiate products, experience has become the key differentiator. To a consumer, each individual interaction with a brand is what builds the experience. If a brand defines itself in a certain way with distinct traits, it must echo those traits throughout its products, staff, marketing messages, and so on. To survive, it must walk the talk.

Ten years ago, companies controlled brand relationships. Today, consumers do. This power shift has been driven largely by technology, and the ability of people from all around the globe to share their experiences online. We are raising the most connected generation of consumers ever. To create a brand with value today, companies must compel these consumers to have a stake in the business – to buy in with a certain amount of emotional ownership. This is a special bond between brand and customer that makes the customer feel like they are part of the business.
Their sales will not be bought. They will be earned. And like any good relationship, the bond will be built on experiences.

The rise of 'Experience Design'

Experience design is a discipline where products, services, events, and environments are designed with a focus on the quality of experience for the user. In a commercial context, this is driven by thinking about the moments of engagement, or touchpoints, between people and brands. It is a practice of working across disciplines to identify and create touchpoints and then to engineer them to create the desired outcome. The practice covers many aspects of a business, from product to packaging to staff; from seeing a cinema chain’s ad online to purchasing tickets to exiting the theatre.

Experience defines our world. In our modern age of marketing, experience is king.

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Bernd Schmitt
"Experiential Marketing". August 1999