experience IS THE NEW HUMAN
Successful brands will require the innovation of experience, achieved by delivering meaningful interactions and building emotional and purposeful consumer connections. At every level, from product ideation, to brand development, to the full customer life cycle, opportunities for these experiences must be created and delivered authentically and consistently. This type of innovation requires an understanding of the thoughts, values, emotions, and attitudes of a new type of consumer.
Back to the Future of Branding
The concept of branding was created in the early days of the Industrial Revolution as a way to communicate with a mass audience of consumers who were used to purchasing goods from local merchants-real people they had trusted relationships with. Branding helped mass producers simulate those human relationships and ease consumer skepticism over buying industrial-made products.
As we enter a new era of consumer experience, it's important to both look back to the the origins of branding as a method of creating human relationships with consumers and to the future era of a new consumer that experiences the world in a totally different way, totaling the interactions they experience across many contexts into a singular experience of living.
Advertising is a non-moral force, like electricity, which not only illuminates but electrocutes. Its worth to civilization depends upon how it is used.
Brand awareness remains an important tool for driving brand strategy and tracking its success. As consumers become increasingly "electrocuted" by traditional advertising and desensitized by information overload, they are becoming insistent on "getting to know" brands and building relationships with them. Breaking through the noise of digital clutter to capture attention, make an introduction, and create a good first impression are important first steps to the development of that relationship and the path to brand loyalty.
Today, having a brand awareness strategy is about more than just visibility: it's about connecting with the right audiences with the right experience to build familiarity and differentiate from competitors right away.
In an era where consumers crave humanization and personalized connections, it's helpful to have humanized representations of your target audience segments to help guide the development of meaningful and successful consumer relationships. Brand personas are useful tools to help bring audiences to life in a way that teams more intuitively understand.
Brand personas are fictional characters represented by audience profiling data, such as their demographics, attitudes, values, needs, motivations, patterns, language, and behaviors. It allows us to think and talk about consumers like people rather than data points, which helps reinforce the goal of developing more humanized brand connections. It gives brand leaders the power to relate to consumers' values and meet their needs in a more authentic way.
We like to think of it as giving our clients the ability to "use their gut instincts" like they would if interacting with a real person, but in a way that is supported by data and aligns with an overall brand strategy. In a world that has amassed an entire dictionary of branding buzzwords and hundreds of different "best" practices, it's an easy way to maintain a natural and consistent approach to every touchpoint.
We are experts at bringing brand personas to life through the exploration of both qualitative and quantitative data. We go beyond the observable characteristics of an audience to capture the essence of their emotional and attitudinal characteristics, the language they use, and the factors that shape their lives.
It's important to understand the competitive landscape as it exists in the minds of consumers. Perceptual mapping is a valuable tool for understanding how consumers perceive your brand relative to competitors, as well as to identify gaps between marketing experiences and service or product experiences. By assessing brand perception for various attributes or features across the competitive landscape, we can uncover opportunities to differentiate by meeting unmet consumer needs or alleviating pain points. Perceptual mapping can also be used to understand perceptions and relative importance of product or service attributes (e.g., quality vs. cost) to drive the development and re-imagining of products and service lines or explore new positions in the market.
A market analysis can include a wide range of exploratory and brand assessment tools to establish baselines, define audiences, understand the selection process, and uncover opportunities to differentiate from competitors. It provides a foundational assessment of your brand to help drive strategy. Some of its elements may include:
-Consumer needs assessment
-Decision drivers and selection factor hierarchy
-Sources of brand knowledge and influence
-Perceptions of price and value
-Trade off analysis
Sentiment analysis is a tool for measuring and understanding the emotional intensity and tone of the language consumers use to describe their feelings about a company, brand, product, or service. It can also be useful in uncovering perceptions about specific brand characteristics, such as the values it stands for or its cultural impact.
Although sentiment analysis became popular with the use of AI, our version of sentiment analysis is conducted with human oversight to produce more reliable and meaningful results. We utilize a wide range of supporting text analytical tools to deeply explore the emotional context of brand experience. These tools give our data next level power to transform brands through deeper connections.
Concept testing is a great way to predict and evaluate the impact of new products, creative elements, advertising campaigns, brand messaging, event concepts, packaging concepts, and even music prior to a formal launch. This eliminates risk and provides the opportunity to make revisions to maximize benefits.
We don't just execute a simple poll to determine a winning concept, we look deep to understand the emotional connections and the meaning that drives their interpretations. We identify any potentially negative perception associated with concepts. We explore the language consumers use as they assess concepts and identify the elements they fixate on. We look at the overall findings to identify the strongest concept(s) for building powerful brand connections and brand differentiation. In today's world, companies cannot afford to take risks by launching products and services that have the potential for negative impact. In our work, we have uncovered shockingly negative consumer interpretations that were completely unexpected by our clients!
Brand personality is a construct similar to brand persona. It defines a brand in terms of human personality characteristics. Having a well-defined "brand personality" is useful for developing brand messages and experiences from a humanized point of view. It summarizes your values and features into an authentic, humanized construct that lends focus, direction, creativity, and consistency to the process of experience design.
Brand experience is the evolving journey across a company's many touchpoints. Creating a "map" of that journey helps understand the nature of each interaction. Which are creating brand awareness? Which are most valued across various audience segments? Where are opportunities to improve? It's critical to look beyond the tactical aspects of branding and the limited perspective of one context to truly succeed.