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To deliver an engaging brand experience a company must:
Doing all of these things well, and doing them consistently, can create a high level of differentiation for the brand, resulting in a strong branded experience.
A branded experience draws customers in; it creates excitement; it is memorable; it sets the brand apart from others in the category; and most of all, it can give the brand permission to evolve into adjacent categories and product groupings. Shopping at an Apple retail store is very different than shopping at any other electronics store because Apple has created its own unique branded customer service and in-store experience.
For younger brands, creating a consistent brand experience can be the key to redefining a category. Take the Casper brand for example. The Casper brand experience has revolutionized the way people shop, think, and experience buying a mattress. What was once a one-off purchase filled with confusion and headaches became a sought-after experience for customers thanks to the work of the Casper team. Casper creates a personal relationship with its customers knowing that the company doesn’t just sell mattresses, but rather, that it sells a better sleep experience. The experience of going to a Casper store is unique in that every person is asked a series of questions tailored to his or her specific patterns, needs, desires, and goals. Customers quickly realize that Casper is not just a mattress company but a technology company that is trying to configure the best possible, personalized product for its customers. That intrigue penetrates other credible verticals for the brand and gives it permission to sell in tangential product categories including linens; sleep accessories; and recently a new nap bar in NYC, the Dreamery, which has managed to elevate the experience of the midday nap.
Another brand that promises a consistently engaging brand experience is Equinox. As a fitness-turned-lifestyle brand, the Equinox name is easily associated with its ubiquitous tagline “commit to something,” and the brand itself commits to its promise. With more than 135 locations in New York, Toronto, London, and Vancouver, the global fitness brand offers the three elements of an engaging experience by personalizing membership services and offerings in each city to its clientele. The brand provides services from onsite spa facilities, personal training, and an array of group fitness classes, but through its app, members can track their fitness levels, goals, and create their own customized workout schedules. The uniqueness of the branded experience and the continual additives for members create a level of surprise, loyalty, and intrigue in what the brand can offer. From installing healthy outposts in every Equinox location to ensure nutrition and fitness complement each other to partnering with local health and wellness ventures, Equinox has evolved its brand from fitness to lifestyle. The attention to its customers and delivery of a consistently engaging fitness experience has helped to position Equinox as a contender in the hospitality category with the upcoming opening of its first fitness hotel in New York City.
Consistent and engaging brand experiences give brands permission to draw in customers with the hopes of earning their loyalty. In an era where many products and services are easily replicable, experience becomes the single point of ownable differentiation within the market. In the case of Casper, its investment in a branded experience has completely disrupted and redefined an entire industry, while for Equinox a consistently engaging experience has allowed the brand to stretch far beyond its immediate category. Brands that invest in their branded experiences will be the businesses that can hold on to a consumer base that is demanding much more than utility from products and services, and, ultimately, they will be the brands to redefine what it means to engage with people and businesses.