Brand experience vs. branded experiences (Landor: Blog)

by raymanookian

By Russ Meyer, Chief Strategy Officer
San Francisco — 2 May 2011

One of the reasons I named my own blog Brand is Action is that I believe this is how brands will be built in this next era of branding—not through image, but through behavior. The experience of the brand has been a hot topic among brand managers and brand consultants over the last five years or so. As organizations have embraced “design thinking” and the “voice of the customer” as product features are increasingly at parity, and services are bundled with products, the experience of selecting, purchasing, and using brands is under as much design consideration as the product itself.

But as important as the brand experience has become, a more interesting trend is brands that are creating exciting experiences in the world, engaging consumers through interaction rather than through a communication medium. These branded experiences become proof points of the brand promise, bringing it to life in a way that an advertisement cannot. These experiences are also captured in our user generated content world, providing content creators with another benefit: credit earned and fame gained from capturing and sharing the momento of the experience.
Two branded experiences that captured me lately are from Coca-Cola and Burberry. The Coca-Cola happiness truck takes the Coke brand promise “open happiness” and makes it real on the streets of Rio de Janiero, delivering Coke products as well as other surprises to delight anyone brave enough to push the big red button. In particular, see the joy on the boy’s face at minute marker 2:00 when instead of a bottle of Coke he gets a much bigger surprise.
The Coca-Cola happiness truck
The second branded experience is the Burberry fashion show in Beijing on April 13, 2011. Burberry’s creative director, Christopher Bailey, has claimed that Burberry is a media company, and this fashion show pushes the boundaries of media, combining live models and holographic video to deliver a runway show unlike any you’ve ever seen. Utilizing techniques and technologies more typically seen in theater and film, this runway show moves beyond a simple clothing display to an experience to be talked about and shared.
Instead of the professionally edited video uploaded by Burberry, I’ve posted a video recording from someone attending the event. For me it gives a better sense of the full experience. It also highlights one of the primary benefits of these branded experiences—the opportunity to share and comment on the experience with others.
Burberry Beijing digital fashion show on April 13, 2011
Increasingly, I think we’ll see brands engaging people in experiences that, although not part of the traditional customer journey, are ones that drive home the core brand idea. Which brands do you think are best at delivering branded experiences today?

Landor: Blog.