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Brand Experience: The 365-Day Medium

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Chris Cavanaugh
Chris Cavanaugh

Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer

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Building brand trust through human interaction

There is a sea change underway in the world of marketing. And many organizations are jumping in with both feet and making a real commitment to transformation.

Today’s marketers realize that single, disconnected points of engagement are no longer the answer if they are to have a fighting chance at breaking through and keeping up with audience behaviors.

It’s no longer about reaching Millennials or Baby Boomers. It’s no longer about chasing shiny objects and hoping for fast returns.

Instead, it’s about making an impact that will win hearts and minds across all brand touchpoints. And this requires companies to think holistically — beyond audience segments and marketing tactics — to create truly end-to-end experiences, thanks to insights and metrics driven by integrated data, rather than simply relying on what worked before.

Moreover, this new approach requires a marketing medium that can engage intensely in a single moment in time, and then extend that engagement across time, 365 days per year.

The medium of brand experience. 

New marketing mindset, new marketing technology

Marketers are investing in experiences at levels never seen before, largely because they have more technological tools today at their disposal. These tools enable brands to reach audiences in previously unimaginable ways, creating a series of individual experiences that feel as connected as a single, continuous conversation.

Even the New York Times realizes this, as the publisher has gotten into the digitally-bolstered brand experience game, citing that CMOs today are focused on “experiential, strategy, creative,” not one-off media buys. Our own research reveals that one in three CMOs plan to allocate at least one-fifth of their marketing budgets to brand experience in the next three to five years. At the same time, many Chief Marketing Officers are now spending more on technology than Chief Information Officers.

At the same time, though, harnessing these digital tools can be like catching a tiger by the tail. Ad buys end up on sites that are anathema to the company’s brand values, or a carefully messaged YouTube video is immediately followed by one having nothing to do with the brand or the communicated message. This lack of control can backfire on brands and create distrust among consumers. It’s no surprise, therefore, that CMOs and marketers increasingly seek solutions that are digitally integrated, generate data, deeply engage, and that they can control

It’s about real people

As the pendulum has taken a hard swing toward digital, brands can’t forget about the actual people they’re reaching. As humans, we crave connection and authenticity, and we want to know that the brands we follow view us as more than just a data point.

This human factor is crucial to building trust. Today’s audiences are both savvy and cynical. And the unfortunate truth is they’re much more likely to believe what other people say about a brand over what the brand says about itself.

It’s ironic that in our digital age, word of mouth has never been so powerful — and face-to-face experiences have never been so necessary.

The future of marketing

On one side are marketers who view digital technology as a trendy and slightly overwhelming fad. They go through the motions solely because it’s what they’ve been told they need to do to reach younger audiences.

On the other side are marketers who have leapt headfirst into the deep end and are so immersed in the digital medium they lose sight of the real human beings they’re engaging with.

Brand experience creates a third option that’s good for everyone.

Imagine using the full suite of digital technologies available to drive face-to-face experiences that create real, immersive, 24/7/365 conversations with real people. Imagine being able to seamlessly follow an audience from the online realm to a physical event and back online again. Imagine the deep, rich data these experiences will generate, in an environment the marketer can build and control, that they can use to tell their brand stories and partake in meaningful dialogue.

The benefits for audiences are multifold as well: excitement, inspiration, and trustworthy experiences that build truly lasting relationships.

Ultimately, all marketing roads lead to and from brand experience. As marketers become more willing to embrace this new truth, and as they become more skilled in blending digital tools with an unwavering focus on the real people they’re reaching, they’ll find they’re creating more powerful, more impactful, and more positive end-to-end marketing that changes lives for the better.

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