Brand Experience: Why It Matters More Than Ever in 2021

Stop for a moment and think about which kind of memory sticks out the most – tasting a food sample or looking at an ad on social media? If you answered food sample, then you already understand the power and impact of brand experiences. Creating a real experience with a brand can cement the brand’s identity, product, and culture into the mind of consumers, so is it any wonder that more and more brands are turning to this marketing strategy to stand out from the competition?

Brand Experience: Why It Matters More Than Ever in 2021

After the lockdown restrictions that kept everyone inside throughout 2020, 2021 has been a year where many people are catching up on experiences they lost the year before. With lighter restrictions and new hope for the future, people are eager to attend safe events – including brand experience events. In 2021, the ability of a brand to create a unique experience to snag consumers is more important than ever, particularly because a new experience is something people have been missing for the last year.

But there are other reasons why brand experience is picking up speed in 2021. Even with the popularity of digital marketing soaring, companies are still investing in brick-and-mortar events to find new audiences and consumers. In fact, it might be because of the popularity of digital marketing that in-person experiences with brands are also falling into the mainstream. As much as digital marketing is cheaper and casts a wider net, brand experiences foster closer relationships between the people and the product.

Create Deeper Connections

The goal of any marketing technique is to create a deeper connection between the brand or the product and the consumer. Forging a deep connection is the best way to make sure your product stands out when compared to the competition. Connections from in-person events give consumers a memory about a product, as well as allow consumers to form an impression about your brand.

A deeper connection may even create a sense of loyalty from the consumer. When there is an experience about a brand that the consumer can recall, they are more likely to have positive connections to the brand or the product, and ultimately that may mean they are more likely to stick with your product instead of your competition.

Inspire Audiences and Consumers

Inspiring your audience is one of the main benefits of creating an experience with your brand. There are various ways events can be built around your product that can inspire your audience to buy your product or even use your product in a unique way. You can even use events to create trends with your brand to inspire larger audients or sub-cultures.

In fact, when consumers have a positive experience and are inspired by your product, you may be able to benefit from word-of-mouth advertising. With a positive experience, inspired audiences will be eager to share their experience with others and encourage new consumers to try your product. And if a trend picks up because of your product, more and more people will be inspired to stay connected with your brand.

Build Brand Identity and Product Reputation

Finally, experiences help you build your brand identity and product reputation. Your brand identity is essentially the culture and mission statement of your brand rolled into a neat package. In digital marketing, consumers should be able to look at your brand’s website and have a clear picture of your brand; for in-person experiences, the event itself should represent the ideals of your brand, such as by using eco-friendly event planning.

Building a reputation for your product is also important. As much as online reviews can be useful, many people prefer to experience a product themselves before deciding whether or not the product is right for them. Allowing consumers to experience your product will create a real-time impression that will instantly build the reputation of your product and your brand.

Experiential Knowledge and Why It Benefits You

Experiential knowledge is the knowledge you gain through experience. This type of hands-on knowledge is one of the best ways to create a concrete memory of how to perform a task, the types of sensory inputs you prefer, and even lays the foundation for trust in similar stimuli. For example, it’s only through experiential knowledge a consumer might understand they like pudding, and with this knowledge, they can then try other types of pudding and form a preference.

Experiential knowledge is the backbone of brand experiences. Through events, product sampling, and other strategies, consumers can create an experiential memory that will stand out among other types of knowledge, such as the information gleaned from online reviews or social media ads. The benefit of creating an experience is the ability to make long-lasting memories about your brand that the consumer can use to spread a positive impression about your product.

Immediate Impact

After a brand event, whether this is through an in-person gala or another type of product sampling, your band will benefit from the immediate impact of the event. Consumers will form an instant opinion about your product after an event. If the sample of your product creates a positive impression, consumers are likely to purchase your product. This also opens the door for repeat consumers in the future.

Authentic Impression

Digital strategies are a good way to get your product or service in front of the eyes of many, but this doesn’t always lead through high click-through rates – especially if your product is new or doesn’t have many reviews. After all, many consumers place trust in online reviews to assess whether or not a product is a good match for them. But just as many consumers don’t trust online reviews at all and are wary of trying new products, which can cause problems when it’s time to reach new consumers.

This is where creating an authentic experience becomes so vital. With an authentic experience with your brand or product, new consumers will have valuable first-hand knowledge they can use to decide whether your product is ideal for their needs. A successful authentic impression can forge loyalty to your brand or product.

Social Engagement

Right now, social media marketing is one of the best ways for your brand to zero in on likely consumers. But any digital advertising is a gamble; some ads are just as likely to alienate consumers are they are to entice consumers to your brand. But social media engagement is different – and usually more useful. Similar to word-of-mouth advertisement, social media engagement is a way to spread positive impressions about your product organically.

Many consumers will turn to social media after forming an authentic impression of your product, usually to catalog their own experience at your event. This free engagement will create buzz about your product that crafty brands can then use to reach new consumers.

Common Types of Experiences

There are many in-person experiences you can host so consumers have the opportunity to form positive experiences about your brand and your product. These experiences don’t necessarily need to be geared toward brand new consumers. After all, loyal consumers are just as likely to spread the positive reputation of your brand and may even have more credibility. Some of the most successful types of experiences to host include:

Showcases, Pop-Ups, and Workshops

Big audiences make big impacts. A product showcase is one of the more classic strategies in experiential marketing. Showcases can display and sample your product, educate consumers on how to use a product, and allow consumers to directly experience your brand. Pop-up events, on the other hand, are spontaneous, full-immersion experiences that create unique experiences about your products and may even give consumers an opportunity to buy your products directly.

Workshops are another way to engage a larger audience and create an experiential memory at the same time. The biggest benefit of a workshop is the ability to capture the full attention of the audience. With a workshop, consumers can have first-hand knowledge of how to use a product and a positive impression of a product.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is a classic strategy that personalizes your marketing strategy to an individual consumer. Things like brochures and catalogs are the most common examples of direct marketing, but modern marketing gives your brand more opportunity to infuse the culture of your company into your strategy.

For example, personalized invitations to workshops or donations to a charity associated with your brand made in the name of the consumer can help the consumer create a positive association with your brand. Bespoke direct marketing makes the individual consumer feel important to your brand, which also inspires loyalty to your products.

Creating an in-person experience for your brand is one of the best ways to stand out among your direct market competitors. Whether you are hosting pop-up experiences or a direct marketing strategy, building an experience for consumers to form a positive connection with is an excellent way to keep your brand relevant. For more information about how you can use experiential knowledge to the fullest advantage, please contact King Sixteen today.

What Is Experiential Marketing?

What Is Experiential Marketing?

As industries evolve and the need for innovative marketing strategies grows, more companies than ever are devising clever marketing tricks that subvert traditional advertising. There’s more competition to contend with daily, and customers seek out new and interesting experiences now more than ever. Over 80% of marketing experts agree that live events are vital to their success, and experiential marketing is a core component of brand awareness.

To clear up the myths and confusion surrounding this sort of strategy, we’ve written a concise guide on what it is and why it works to help our readers understand why businesses are increasingly recognizing the benefits. There are many facets and a myriad of approaches, but above all, it’s about creating memorable experiences.

Experiential Marketing

Experiential, “live”, or “engagement” marketing is a marketing strategy that aims to immerse customers within a brand’s identity. This is done using branded, hands-on experiences, with the central goal being to get the customer to associate a positive emotional encounter with the brand. Unlike traditional advertising, the customer is no passive, disinterested observer who begrudgingly sits through an advertisement.  

Instead, they are compelled to engage with a brand directly and, crucially, in a way that solidifies the event in memory, drawing a strong emotional bond between brand and experience. Picture an electrifying live event you have attended, such as a concert, theater production, or a sports game. How much more deeply is that occasion rooted in your mind than the countless times you have listened to the radio, watched a movie, or followed a match on the TV?

The Basics

Intense, vivid, memorable experiences are the beating heart of live marketing that makes it so powerful. It is far less about generating sales directly through events, and much more about creating positive associations and real connections with customers on a personal level. These associations invest consumers in a brand, cement long-term relationships, drive repeat business, and create passionate advocates who only amplify the campaign itself.

Benefits Over Traditional Marketing Strategies

The experiential approach is one that provides a myriad of benefits over other, mainstream approaches. Quite simply, it achieves things that other methods cannot, and are as follows:

  • Personal investment
  • Positive association
  • Connection between product and emotion
  • Viral marketing and share-ability
  • Standing out among competitors

Personal Investment

It is no secret that in today’s dispassionate and cold electronic business world, customers value human connection. By interfacing with customers directly, live marketing generates customer investment naturally. They see your brand in immediate proximity and feel as though they are a part of a larger whole – and not just another statistic on a spreadsheet.

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Positive Association

The positive association created by live experiences is valuable beyond measure. Simply put, your customers have fun engaging with you, which builds trust and endears them to you over your competitors. Importantly, once this happens, they’re very unlikely to switch.

Connection Between Product and Emotion

Even well into the future, your customers will continue to associate your products with the enjoyable experiences of a live marketing campaign. The very best of events will accompany them for years to come.

Viral Marketing and Share-Ability

Nobody retweets an advert or shares a post about an upcoming sale. Yet a massive portion of attendees to live events will create social media posts about them. In other words, they magnify the influence of your campaign with little additional effort (or cost) on your part.

Standing Out Among Competitors

Brand identity is what lets you stand out from the crowd, and experiential events build that identity and awareness brick by brick. And if your event has a unique twist or angle, all the better, because customers will associate it with your brand, and others trying to emulate it will only remind them of you.

Experiential Marketing in Practice: Some Examples

Showcases and Pop-Up Experiences

In practice, the possibilities for this style of campaign are boundless, and the sky is the limit. Product showcases are a classic example. With a little creativity, a product showcase needn’t be a dry affair, and they’re great for educating customers on the purpose of a product. Tasting events for culinary products and car exhibits are two typical types of product showcases.

A fantastic example of a pop-up experience is National Geographic’s Ocean Odyssey in Times Square, NYC. While less about marketing, and more about immersion, it serves as a stellar example of the draw of a truly unique experience.

Workshops

Hosting workshops and classes is a fantastic way of engaging with an audience while giving them something in return. A particular advantage of workshops is that they almost guarantee the undivided attention of attendees.

Single-Person Events

Experiential occasions needn’t cater to everybody or even a large audience. With the power of social media, single-person events that are widely shared communicate positive emotions and experiences to a wider audience.

Direct Marketing

Marketing events needn’t happen in public, and they don’t necessarily have to cater to new customers. It’s equally important to maintain the existing relationships, and one of the best ways to do this is with targeted, direct marketing. Instead of the run-of-the-mill brochures, catalogs and discount offers, why not send a bespoke list of existing customers a personalized postcard, or donate to a good cause on their behalf and let them know?

Direct mail combines well with other methods, too, to heighten the feeling of connectedness and personal investment. If you’re hosting a workshop or a showcase in a client’s hometown, send them a personal invite for an exclusive guest list.

Outside-the-Box Ideas

Some of the best campaigns are ones that think truly outside the box. One great example, Folger’s coffee manhole covers, made creative use of the steam emanating from the vents across NYC to emulate a hot cup of coffee. Not only is this immediately shareable on social media, but it’s incredibly cost-effective – and memorable for passers-by.

Another great example, also from NYC, is airline JetBlue’s ice block challenge, which offered passers-by the opportunity to win various prizes ranging from summer accessories to exclusive flights. The catch? The prizes were frozen in a thick block of ice and had to be smashed, hammered, and clawed free by eager onlookers. That’s not an experience anybody would forget.

Hallmarks of a Great Campaign

Anybody can envision a successful marketing strategy, yet there are several points to bear in mind to ensure that it is a success and provides a bountiful return on investment. No two campaigns are alike, yet all of the good ones share many of the same vital aspects.

  • Clear and actionable goals
  • Tell a story
  • Humanize your brand
  • Promote social media engagement
  • Lead Generation and follow-up
  • Measurable outcomes

Clear and Actionable Goals

Above all, your campaign needs to have clearly defined, achievable objectives. This applies to event marketing as it does to any other marketing strategy, and should go without saying. The intent behind a campaign is what defines everything that comes next. Are you looking to break into an untapped market? Improve brand awareness? Endear your brand to a new audience?

Tell a Story

As any junior-level marketing professional knows, stories are memorable. Stories drive advert engagement, engagement drives leads, and leads drive sales. The multi-dimensional aspect of live events offers the indispensable opportunity to involve and embed customers within that story. As we’ve stressed before, this type of marketing transforms customers into active participants.

Humanize Your Brand

One of the core goals of any experiential marketing campaign is to foster a personal connection with customers. To do this, a campaign needs to come across as authentic and down-to-earth. The message must stay true to your core brand identity and highlight what it is that makes you unique.

Promote Social Media Engagement

As we discussed earlier, one of the secondary benefits of this strategy is the free advertising your invested customers do on your behalf, often without realizing that they’re promoting your business. User-generated content can be planned for in advance, by creating appropriate hashtags and picture-worthy scenes that anybody would want to grace their social media feed.

Lead Generation and Follow-Up

Interacting with customers directly affords the opportunity of not only generating new sales leads, but gathering customer information in an organic fashion, potentially even with them volunteering their information. No live marketing campaign should be envisioned without consideration of how to gather information for follow-ups to reinforce the message.

Additionally, it’s a great opportunity to receive honest feedback from customers about your brand, and what’s more, listening to customer feedback at such events only goes further to make them feel included and valued.

Measurable Outcomes

Measurable data in marketing is king, for without it, you are unable to react and adapt to failing strategies, capitalize on successful ones, or even know if your campaigns are having an effect at all. You absolutely must know how well your campaigns are faring, and for this to happen, your outcomes need to be quantifiable.

Checklist for Kick-starting Your Own Campaign

It’s not easy to get it right, and for every story of amazing success, there are an equal number of campaigns that have fallen flat. If you’re looking to start a new campaign, it’s important to follow several critical steps in the planning process to maximize the results.

  • Brainstorm and gather information
  • Know your customer base
  • Understand your goal
  • Engage multiple senses
  • Work with industry professionals
  • Focus on your brand’s strength

Brainstorm and Gather Information

The critical first step. What are the first thoughts that spring to mind? What are others in the industry doing in this regard? Understanding your brand, and the market it exists in is critical.

Know Your Customer Base

Your customers are the ultimate recipients of your targeted strategies. What do they like about your brand, and what emotional responses can you expect from them?

Understand Your Goal

What is the endpoint of your campaign, and what does it seek to achieve? Critically, what do you want your customers to do as soon as they have experienced your event?

Engage Multiple Senses

Immersion beats passivity every time. By engaging more than one of the senses, you can be certain your event will have a larger impact. Sights, smells, sounds, colors, music, wonder, and awe. All are powerful, and all can be made to work for you.

Work With Industry Professionals

Ultimately, there’s no need to rely on your own intuition or guesswork. With the aid of proven industry professionals, your ideas can be supercharged with an injection of innovative ideas and an existing network and knowledge base required to turn foundational ideas into serious results.

It’s harder than ever before to grab people’s attention. In a crowded and bustling market, more and more brands are recognizing that enduring, fruitful relationships with customers are fundamental to generating repeat business. Becoming the brand that fosters positive emotional responses is the key to sustainable success in the future.

Contact King Sixteen today for more information about the pioneering strategies we offer.

Partnerships that matter. Experiences that last.

We are a collective of event producers that work directly with national brands seeking to activate in unique markets across the United States.

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Branded Gifts Your Customers Will Keep: And Ones They Will Trash…

Branded Gifts Your Customers Will Keep: And Ones They Will Trash…

Custom Products

Custom gift bags and branded items are a great way to thank your staff, customers, or clients. In conjunction with an event or product launch, branded swag is a great way to create some brand awareness through thoughtful product sourcing. But don’t be fooled into thinking a t-shirt or coffee mug is the best option for your next order. There are three things that matter most to consumers; and with some thoughtful ideating on fresh product ideas – you can keep your new loot out of the trash.

A cursory search of Amazon’s best selling products over the last few years, and you will find something quite interesting. From lip balms and silk pillowcases to yoga pants and Squatty Potties… three things are certain! Function, Frequency, and Comfort reign supreme. And it’s not difficult to understand why that’s the case. The items and tools we interact with on a daily basis must be functional to make our tasks easier. If there is little reason for the item to be functional… there is little reason to keep the item or use it often.

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Give them something they will use often

In addition, the higher the potential frequency of an item matters! And sometimes the frequency and your customers location matters. For example, a branded umbrella and custom Miir coffee mug might be an excellent combo for Vancouver or Seattle customers. But we wouldn’t recommend a branded beach towel and koozie in Wisconsin… as it’s likely heading for a lonely cupboard or junk drawer. It’s important to think about how your recipient of custom gifts will use your items, and how frequently. The higher the frequency, the longer these items stick around and can create some organic brand awareness wherever they go.

Quality and feel

Comfort and textures also play an important role in what items are retained, and what items are tossed. Silk is often a comforting texture, whereas canvas has been known to elicit more masculine and resilient properties. Clinical Psychologist (Daniel Graham) says:

“Texture is ubiquitous. It contains important visual information about an object and allows us to distinguish between animals, plants, foods, and fabrics. This makes texture a significant part of the sensory input that we receive every day. In the visual arts, texture is the perceived surface quality of a work of art.”.

This is why it’s important to think about how the comfort of your product will translate via texture.  Promoting an in-store shopping experience or pop-up shop? A sturdy and reliable canvas tote bag might be the perfect choice for your customers. Selling a CBD infused sleep tincture? Perhaps a silk sleep mask would go nicely with your product. Releasing a new distilled spirit into the wild? A laser-etched glass tumbler might stick around longer than a t-shirt that feels like sandpaper. Comfort matters!

No matter what you choose to design and create… always be sure that function, frequency, and comfort are a part of the conversation. Check out these amazing gift items that can be branded for your company:

King Sixteen is a turn-key product manufacturing and design agency specializing in product launches, experiential marketing campaigns, and event management.

Partnerships that matter. Experiences that last.

We are a collective of event producers that work directly with national brands seeking to activate in unique markets across the United States.

Clients

Brands we have worked with

Let’s do something amazing together…

Email: info@kingsixteen.com

Phone: +1 707 653 KING

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