We get asked this question a lot. Live interactions with brands have been around forever, but the new medium of brand experience is leveraging technology, data, and storytelling to reinvent the live experience.
Let’s start with a definition of brand experience:
A brand experience is about designing a sensory experience that brings a person into a lasting and meaningful relationship with a brand.
The term “brand experience” came to life as many other terms in the marketing industry do — with the evolution of the media and channels that we use to communicate a brand’s message or story. There have been other terms used to describe our offering, such as “live events,” “event marketing,” “experiential marketing,” “sponsorship activation,” and the like. But what these terms fail to do is include one small but invaluable word: branding.
Branding is the ultimate goal of all marketing communications, is it not? And a brand experience is a more open-ended concept of branding, with a larger, more colorful set of tools at our disposal.
The needs of brands and their audiences have set off a boom in the brand experience space — according to the Ad Age 2017 Top Agency Report, brand experience is growing faster than advertising, PR, CRM, and media, at a rate second only to digital.
And our own recent independent survey of global B-to-B and B-to-C marketers, launching soon to the industry, shows that marketers increasingly understand the importance of the brand experience channel. More than two-thirds of them agree that brand experience is an effective way to reach their goals, and over half the CMOs polled said that brand experience gives them the ability to create ongoing relationships with their key audiences.
Here are some reasons we think the category is growing at an accelerated pace: Humans have an intrinsic need to make connections with one another. We like to hang with our tribes. And part of what makes a successful connection is finding the right place to make it happen. Look at places like Starbucks — as a company, it understands that people don’t just come to stores to grab a coffee and go. They want a place to meet with friends, a relaxing hour with a book, a mobile workspace, a familiar and comfortable living room atmosphere no matter where they go in the world.
That’s why Starbucks created its stores around the sociological concept of the “third space,” which refers to a welcoming community space that fosters feelings of safety and inclusion. This creates the perfect environment in which to connect face to face, and the more people connect like that, the more face-to-face connections they crave. The brand experience category speaks to that need on a higher level and bridges the gap between brands and people to make those connections possible.