October 9th, 2018 By Steve Mooney
Now more than ever, brand experiences matter.
Technology has disrupted the world to the point where human interaction is at a premium; the role employees play in that interaction is critical, and the performance of a brand is dependent on both.
Some years ago, we highlighted how the experience journey pertained to the consumer’s interaction with a brand. And we prescribed that brands plot touchpoints across a spectrum of love and loathe —winning and losing hearts over a variety of experiences. Now more than ever, brand experiences matter, including the vital role employees play.
A recent PwC survey, cited in Adweek, highlights a shift in dollars away from Upfronts, and into experiences:
“The data is clear. Great customer experiences are a tangible business advantage, resulting in up to a 16 percent price premium on products and services, increased loyalty, willingness to try new products and openness with personal data.” 1
With these moments of truth on display, we win and lose hearts in an instant. Employees are the champions of our brands.
“65 percent of consumers say that a positive experience is more influential than advertising or marketing.” 1
Start by proving your brand promise
We know that brands that deliver a superior brand experience outperform their competitors in the marketplace. According to Jack Morton’s Experience Brand Index – a global survey of 6,000 consumers across 100 brands and 10 industries – we learned that only 1 in 4 brands stands out to consumers.
The Experience Brand Index also taught us:
- Consumers are very concerned with the way brands behave in the world. More than 75% of consumers globally agreed with the statement: “I care about how brands behave toward customers, employees and their communities.”
- Employee experience is critical to the US and UK. Out of the six customer touchpoints we evaluated, the experience consumers have with employees was among the most important for 10 out of 10 of the industries we looked at in the US and for 8 out of 10 of the industries in the UK.
And in basic human terms, research demonstrates how experiences make people happy. To many, this concept is common sense — spend your money traveling the world, not acquiring things.
“Shifting from buying stuff to buying experiences, and from spending on yourself to spending on others, can have a dramatic impact on happiness.” 2
For brands, this leads us to conclude – experiences make for happy employees, which can impact customer experiences and drive higher brand performance.
Invest in employees: It’s worth it
Despite all of this proof, we underinvest in the very people we depend on to deliver these experiences: our employees. We spend billions of dollars on ad media and sponsorships, but more often than not, we leave it to chance with our own front lines. Crazy! A luxury hotel with untrained receptionists. An airline whose employees do not smile. You’d never do it, right!?!
Look at Apple – the brand that’s worth nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars.3 They get it. In the form of store associates, customer service chat rooms and Genius Bars, consumers throw money at Apple due in part to their impeccable brand experience.
And then there’s Disney. They invented the consumer journey, retaining employees at a much higher rate than competitors because of the pride they put into creating a magical customer experience. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of making dreams come true?
The more time we spend lost in our devices, the more important actual experiences become. Just as we market to our customers, we need to market to our employees. Excite them. Engage them. Give them the very same treatment we give our most loyal consumers. Through employee brand engagement, we need to create brand experiences for our front lines, so they remain passionate about the value we bring to the markets we covet.
One example of treating employees like we treat consumers is recent work Jack Morton collaborated on with beloved outdoors brand L.L.Bean. We were poised to launch a campaign – Be an Outsider at Work – that focused on helping people spend more of their time at work outdoors. It was based on a rich body of research showing that spending time outside while working makes us more productive, more creative and happier. But if we were going to advocate the benefits of getting the outside during your work day, it would have been inauthentic to do it without having tried it ourselves first.
And so we developed an employee bran experience in collaboration with L.L.Bean for its employees, in advance of our national campaign launch. We piloted the world’s first-ever outdoor co-working space on L.L.Bean’s Freeport, Maine campus. We researched the impact on its employees and brought in our workplace strategist Leigh Stringer to talk to L.L.Bean leadership about the positive benefits that the shared joy of the outdoors brings to our day-to-day work. In so doing, we demonstrated to ourselves, and to our clients, the importance of bringing the L.L.Bean brand promise to life. And when the Maine weather got a little rough, our client partners jovially reminded us that there really isn’t bad weather, just bad gear.
Be an Outsider at Work delivered an impressive return, but it also got employees talking about the program more than any one marketing initiative in recent company history. Great pride built on great experiences! And the experience was so popular with employees that the outdoor co-working space is still on L.L.Bean’s campus today, continuing to encourage employees to live the brand’s marketing every day.
So where do you start?
We are meeting countless clients and seeing numerous RFPs dedicated to elevating experiences to strategic marketing levels. These requests prove our point — experiences are the future and matter now, so don’t get caught with employees holding the keys your kingdoms, confused about what door to unlock, or what houses to build. Invest in inspiring your own people to carry the excitement of your brand forward.
1 Adweek. (2018, May 3). It’s Time to Shift Away from Upfronts and Into Experiences. Retrieved September 24, 2018 from https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/its-time-to-shift-money-away-from-upfronts-and-into-experiences/
2 The Washington Post. (2013, October 4). Five ways money can buy you happiness. Retrieved September 24, 2018 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/five-ways-money-can-buy-you-happiness/2013/10/03/029339b2-2c72-11e3-97a3-ff2758228523_story.html?utm_term=.402db6206178
3 CNNMoney. (2017, March 21). Apple worth $750 billion. Next stop? $1 trillion. Retrieved September 24, 2018 from https://money.cnn.com/2017/03/21/investing/apple-stock-all-time-high-three-quarters-trillion/