A 360 Degree Look at How Experiential Marketing Plays Into a Brand Experience

The authors of a paper in the American Marketing Association’s scholarly journal have this to say about brand experience: “Brand experience is conceptualized as sensations, feelings, cognitions and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand's design and identity, packaging, communications and environments.”

They go on to indicate that a good brand experience should include four dimensions: sensory, affective (having to do with moods or emotions), intellectual and behavioral.

If you use this description of brand experience, and look at the way a good experiential marketing event is described, you’ll see there’s a lot of overlap. We take a 360 degree look at experiential marketing to expose how closely it corresponds to a positive brand experience.

Appeal to the senses

The best brand experiences allow consumers to gain knowledge about a company’s products or services will their senses. That’s one of the reasons experience marketing is such an effective way to allow consumers interact with your brand. You can’t smell packaging (or at least you shouldn’t be able to). You can’t taste a television advertisements, and you can’t handle a product you see online.

When consumers go to experiential marketing events, they can smell, taste, touch, listen to and see products in real life. This tangible experience makes consumers more likely to remember your brand, and much more likely to buy your products or services at some point.

Evoke emotion

Facts are important. Videos and images are good. But experiences evoke emotion. Consumers will remember emotions far longer than they remember facts, figures and pictures.

Just as a good brand experience will evoke emotion, so will a good experiential marketing campaign. Think about the emotions you want associated with your brand, then think about how you can bring up those emotions at your activations.

Share information about your products

There’s definitely no harm in appealing to people’s heads too. Facts may not be as compelling as emotions, but they can still play a role in engaging consumers. Think of this as a one-two punch. Hit people with an emotional appeal, then win them over with good data that convinces them your brand offers what they need.

Brands have plenty of places to share information: social media channels, websites, packaging, advertisements and more. Depending on the type of event you’re doing, an experiential marketing activation can be a great place to fill consumers’ heads with good data.

Experiential marketing events sometimes offer one-on-one interactions between a consumer and brand ambassador, which can be a great time to share a company’s messages. When events are designed to entertain, you can hold consumers’ attention for a long time. Take advantage of that opportunity and slip in facts and figures every once in a while.

Make it easy to buy

Good brand experience make consumers feel compelled to buy your products and services. If making sales is a priority at your experiential marketing event, make it easy for consumers to buy.

Factory 360 recently organized an experiential marketing activation for Boohoo.com, the United Kingdom’s largest online retailer of trendy women’s clothing. The activation included several elements: visits by past participants on “The Bachelor,” a flower-laden photo wall where consumers could take pictures, DJ competitions, drinks and refreshments, and free activities like hair braiding and pedicures.

All of these activities were designed to draw people into the activation. Once we had them inside, we made it very easy for them to shop. A comfortable lounge was equipped with iPads that went straight to Boohoo’s website. People could browse their entire catalogs while enjoying refreshments and taking a break from the activities outside.

Offer consumers something of value

Your brand doesn’t just sell widgets; it sells the best widgets, or the best widgets for a particular demographic. Your whole brand experience shares that message, and every aspect of your experiential marketing events should do the same.

Make sure your experiential marketing activations offer something of value. If you’re sampling, make sure those samples are presented in an interesting container or by an interesting person. If you’re giving away prizes, make sure they give consumers an experience or product they’ll always remember. If you’re focused on a party or other event, make sure it’s the event of the year.

Connect to the brand’s identity

Brand experience is strongly connected to a brand’s physical manifestations, including logos, slogans, mascots, colors and images. It’s also strongly tied to intangible things like a brand’s mottos, values, vision and activities.

Just as you’d never print packaging without your name and logo, you should never attempt an experiential marketing event without strongly connecting it to all other aspects of your brand’s identity. Make sure the company’s physical identifiers show up everywhere at the event. Make sure all activities reflect the company’s values.

Tie in social media

Social media has become very important to brand identity. Consumers expect more two-way connection and interaction with brands. Social media is one big way they’re doing that.

Social media can also be an important part of spreading your brand identity during an experiential marketing event. When consumers post photographs of themselves or share messages using hashtags, they spread your brand’s message to their friends, family and colleagues. Pictures and enthusiastic posts will bring back good memories of your event after it has wrapped up. Having a good strategy for social media at an event can be just as important as having a good social media strategy for your brand.

Follow up

The brand experience shouldn’t conclude after consumers purchase your products for the first time. And it shouldn’t end after you shut the doors on your experiential marketing event. In both cases, good follow up can be key to continuing the brand experience in a positive way. How can you make sure consumers are happy with your products/services or the experience they just had with you? How can you turn them into loyal customers or even brand ambassadors?

Whether we’re talking brand experience or experiential marketing event, it’s good to have a plan to continue engaging with consumers far into the future.