Customer loyalty is a critical component of business success. Maintaining a long-lasting business requires loyal, repeat customers. Many companies focus on customer experience to increase customer loyalty, but a recent study indicates that brand experience is equally important to developing a long-term customer base. In fact, failing to address brand experience can cause a drop in customer loyalty.
In this article, I’ll define brand experience, illustrate some companies with outstanding brand experiences and show you how to improve the brand experience of your own business.
What Is Brand Experience?
Although brand experience is related to customer experience, it has its own unique elements. The Journal of Marketing paper, “Brand Experience: What Is It? How Is It Measured? Does It Affect Loyalty?” introduced a brand experience scale that emphasized customer feelings, sensations and behaviors beyond traditional branding identity.
Brand experience has five distinct elements:
- Think — Communicate your brand clearly so that customers know what you offer and for whom
- Feel — Invoke positive emotions from your customers
- Sense — Stimulate customers’ senses such as taste, sound and smell (depending on your business type)
- Do — Create calls to action that encourage customer response
- Connect — Create community with your customers through social interactions
Your customers experience these brand elements in everything you do and create, including your design, packaging and communications. What’s unique about brand experience is that it often emphasizes intangible factors that your competitors might overlook.
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For example, many businesses focus on a top-notch website and logo for their brand image, but you shouldn’t stop there. How you make your customers feel can be equally important to professional design and sales promotions.
Examples of Strong Brand Experience
Rufus Leonard created a Brand Experience Index (BXi) that rated a cross-section of companies on their brand experience. The current version is updated for 2016.
Leading the list is Singapore Airlines, with a BXi score of 96. Singapore Airlines scored particularly well in the Sense and Feel categories. Little things — such as being an innovator in providing free headsets and meal choices to passengers — helped this airline rate above its competitors. The Singapore Girl, its brand icon, also creates a connection with consumers.
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Ikea is a top retailer for brand experience, scoring 91 on the index. Ikea’s clearly defined brand image helped it achieve such a high score. Through its effective branding, most consumers understand what Ikea offers and how it differs from other retailers with similar merchandise. For many customers, Ikea is a destination, not just another store.
The mobile network giffgaff also scored well on the Brand Experience Index, achieving 92 points. This telecommunications company offers a non-traditional brand experience, which connects with consumers. “The mobile network run by you” is giffgaff’s tagline. It emphasizes how giffgaff gives their customers options and control that its competitors don’t provide.
How Your Company Can Create a Positive Brand Experience
Here are several tips for creating a positive brand experience for your own business — and increasing your customer loyalty.
- Research brand experience to understand what it is. Reading the Brand Experience Index 2016 is a good place to start.
- Compare your company’s current brand experience with those of your competitors. With this knowledge, create a plan for the best ways to differentiate your business. Sometimes simple things can make a big difference, such as how you communicate with your customers and how you make them feel. Focusing on areas your competitors are ignoring can help increase your brand experience.
- Partner with your agency to develop creative branding strategies. For example, you might decide your brand image is confusing and you need some new brand identity materials. Or you might want to invest more in increasing your social media presence and content to better connect with your target customer base.
Today’s competitive business environment means that small businesses need to do everything they can to develop a loyal customer base of repeat buyers. Creating a positive brand experience is a smart tactic that businesses often neglect. Investing time and energy into improving your brand experience can lead to big rewards. The good thing is that a few smart, simple tactics can have a substantial impact.