DON’T CALL IT A COME BACK, WE’VE BEEN HERE FOR YEARS.
By, Tucker Trotter, President and CEO of Dimensional Innovations
Experiential design is nothing new. In fact, the art of combining interactive storytelling with environmental design to engage an audience has been done exceptionally well by several brands and organizations. So why all the recent buzz? Why are advertising agencies and consulting firms suddenly throwing it around as the latest trend?
Because it’s critical to success. And more and more companies worldwide are beginning to realize just how critical. Experiential design requires creating a cohesive experience far beyond what traditional advertising and branding can provide.
We’re all driven by experiences, both good and bad. And we use these experiences to help us determine where we want to shop, go to college, work, and watch a game. So when it comes to engaging consumers, students, employees and fans in a positive way, brands and organizations need to nail the full experience (including all those little details) from beginning to end every time. Every time.
Whether companies like it or not, every part of their brand experience goes into defining what the brand is all about. ¹ How a company is perceived in any market today is defined by the positive or negative experiences of its customers at every touch point. And those real touch points, places where a brand exists outside of a smartphone and in the real world, those are the experiences that really stick with people. You can no longer hide behind a slick app or blast advertisements telling people what to think about your brand and expect them to believe you.
If there is a disconnect from your advertised message and the consumer’s actual experience, you’ve lost. You’re done. The innovative brands who can see the whole picture and then design one cohesive experience, rather than disjointed messages and actions, are seeing the benefits.
Apple is often at the top of the list when we think of great design, but their success stems from brilliant experiential design. From the thought process that goes into their retail store layout, customer service, packaging and intuitive functionality, to the beautifully simplistic designs and messaging, they know how to create a seamless experience for their audience.
Other brands, like Tesla, are following suit by making experiential design a priority. Their performance has every other major brand paying close attention. Great experiential design is one the most powerful weapons to be deployed on the innovation battlefield.
A positive brand experience is not only an outward expression. Brands are also thinking about their internal work experience. With the rise of freelancing and younger generations leading the way for increased flexibility and greater purpose, it’s a battle for large organizations to attract and retain talented and innovative employees. Once again, companies are beginning to evaluate the overall experience.
Everything from the very first interaction a potential employee has with you, until their first day of work, and every day after, a company is being judged from inside and out. Are you true to your purpose? Do you do what you say? Do you care? There has never been a time in our history when leadership has to be more accountable and transparent in their actions.
Brands and organizations are starting to get it. Experiences matter. Thus, the rush for agencies and consultants to become overnight experts at experiential design.
Here’s an insider secret though: there’s no quick and easy solution to create quality experiential design. Sure, you could do a quick Google search about experience design and then try and throw a pre-planned process or product on the problem. But adding process and efficiency isn’t easy when dealing with a brand experience. Brands are living, breathing, organic things. And at the end of the day, it’s really a perception that lives inside everyone a little differently based on personal experiences that are always changing.
That’s not bad news though, it means a brand’s perception is fluid and it can change over time. It means it’s never too late to improve a brand experience. Every new positive interaction changes the way people view your brand. And this is where an experiential designer can help.
How do we know? Well, we’ve experienced it.
1. Nordli, Une. Service Design, Customer Experience and Branding - An Integrative Approach. N.p., n.d. Web.