Brand Experiences Matter!

“All experience is an arch wherethro’ gleams that untraveled world whose margins fade forever and forever as we move”, an excerpt from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Ulysses’, perfectly encapsulates why experiences matter, and stands true for brand experiences too. It captures how they are a glimpse of something huge that is yet to be explored and, how it paves way for a myriad of experiences in the future.
Similarly, in the world of branding, brand experience is gaining more traction over efficiency or effectiveness. All three aspects form part of the process of value creation for the customer, but brand experiences stand out when it comes to building a brand image.

A single moment, episode, gesture that elicits responses from all of the senses make an experience and leave an indelible mark on the mind that transforms into a brand’s image. The way a customer is able to relate to a brand, or how the brand aligns with the thought process of the customers contributes to building the brand image. Brand experiences essentially help in this process. If a brand is successful in building an entire experience around what the customers identify with, it becomes a powerful brand.

We all have a bucket list of the things we want to do and experience; it is as simple as that. Always what we do and have experienced weighs over what we possess. When we rewind and replay the journey of our lives, what we remember is the things we have done, situations we have faced, and moments we have cherished rather than something we own. Therefore, to metamorphose into a powerful brand, it needs to be aware of the significance of brand experiences and build the brand in a way that delivers a wholesome experience. It will help the brand rescind all the negative associations and associate the brand with positive connotations.

When it comes to brand differentiation, creating a brand experience is the way to go, since now the quality of the product, price, offers, etc. have less influence in deriving a distinction between brands. It is not merely limited to the marketing and branding team to create a successful and wholesome experience for the customers, each department must take ownership of their part to create a brand experience that matches with the values and quality that the brand wants to accomplish. It is a huge responsibility because creating an experience out of a brand requires collaboration between all the departments to ensure consistency in delivering the experience at all the touchpoints.

An exceptional example of a brand experience is the renowned brand “Disney.” If you ponder upon the brand Disney, you will realize that more than being a product or service, it is an experience, a magical experience.




It is so true to its goal that the brand is associated with the word, ‘magic’. There are a plethora of touch points, and they cut across all the different business silos. From the person checking the tickets, to the person in charge of maintenance, to the conductor of the little trains in the theme park, it has successfully managed to create a dreamy world for the customers to experience. Creating a magical experience is quite challenging. It's not the same as mass-produced goods. This is the conduct of dozens, if not hundreds, of people who come into contact with you during your encounter.

Experiences, it turns out, are by far the most important factor in determining loyalty. The loyalty of a customer towards a brand is a factor that determines whether it will stay with the brand or leave the brand. Leaving the brand is also an outcome of bad experiences, therefore it is important to know what are the things that they liked about the brand, which aspect of the brand is memorable and ingrained in their minds. Customer satisfaction is driven by positive experiences. A brand must understand that its focus should not be on building expectations rather it should be on building experiences for the expectations.

To design such experiences the brands, have to dig into the soul of the customers. They need to explore and dive deeper to understand the customers and their experiences at a more emotional level. Another important factor is to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the brand. If the brand is unable to communicate its purpose through its actions, it cannot deliver on the customer experiences. Therefore, understanding the purpose of a brand from an experiential component is significant.

Sometimes, many brands end up forgetting their purpose and it costs them their customers. One such story is of the brand Harley-Davidson and how they bounced back by identifying and understanding their purpose.
They were drawn into a war against the Japanese bikes, the Hondas and Yamahas, not because of price efficiency, but because of efficacy. And it was all about efficiency and functionality. Sport bikes entered the market, and Harley attempted to differentiate itself by becoming more athletic. And as a company, they were unable to execute on that value proposition. So, they dispatched two of their marketing agents to ride shotgun with the one consumer group that refused to abandon them.




The Hells Angels were the target market. The two marketing executives rode with the Angels for three months. And it was then that they realised that the Angels were a gang, and they never rode alone. Unlike the Japanese sports bike, which was all about independence, Harley was all about camaraderie. And by recognising this, they were able to transform their brand into an experience. They put their money into cruiser bikes. They had posse rides, as they were known, all over the country, when individuals rode together. Despite their independence, the dealerships became part of the brand family. They also put a lot of emphasis on events that brought the riders together.

It was designed with the premise that you should never ride alone. So, Harley-Davidson was able to turn around the brand and give a holistic experience to their customers by understanding their purpose, where the product truly became an enabler for the experience.

Brands that have the ability to master this experience-driven approach will be able to win over customers and prove to be a powerful brand.





Anjali Nair
Vivekanand Business School