We are hard wired by evolution to see structure in everything. We look for understanding and empathy everywhere: we see faces in clouds, in burnt toast, in rice pudding, we look for the friendly face in the crowd and we gravitate to empathic people. And thus when we are online we prefer companies whose websites show humanity, forgive our errors and have personality over the more generic ones. In short, we want our digital brand’s interfaces to mimic human to human interactions. Therefore it is key that your customers can see the face of your brand in your website interfaces and can hear its voice in the copy, and that that face and voice is on-brand (i.e. coherent with your offline brand if you have one) and one of meaning and purpose.
From recent work with our clients we know how crucial it is to understand what your current brand experience is (across all touch points) and why it is so important to build a cohesive strategy in order to compete in the digital economy.
Below I detail how and why you need to create a Digital Brand Experience Strategy.
First of all, what is the Digital Brand Experience?
The Digital Brand Experience is the feelings and thoughts generated by an interaction with a brand’s digital interfaces across multiple digital marketing channels and touch-points with the purpose of creating a lasting relationship between the company and the customer across the entire Customer Decision Journey.
Digital interfaces must be on-brand in order for a customer to have the correct experience (feelings and thoughts when interacting with the brand across digital touch-points) and then execute the correct actions. This experience must be unique to the brand and coherent across all channels and platforms.
Before a coherent digital brand experience can be achieved the ‘experience’ must be defined, and once defined then implemented through the design of the interactions which make up the interfaces.
‘We’re going through a revolution in the way people communicate. I think it’s the most significant revolution in communications since the invention of the printing press.’ David Meerman Scott – The New Rules of Marketing & PR
What is this revolution and where is it happening? The revolution is the hyper connectivity that surrounds you, your colleagues, your friends and your family – and which is infiltrating your company from the inside out. The revolution is also the humanising pressure social technologies are having on organisations.
The humanisation of the organisation is the key concept in relation to the future of its internal and external social ecosystem. It will be the decade’s key business battle ground – ‘become human and connect at every level with both employees and consumers or die’ will be the rallying cry. In fact, the ability to be human and on brand in B2C, B2B and B2E relationships will be the differentiator as consumer power and employee flux increase – and what is now termed the Social Business (or Enterprise 2.0) is one model of how to meet this brave new social world.
So, you are a large enterprise and you have a brand into which you have poured large amounts of resources and effort in order to create a recognisable and memorable and consistent brand experience. And then along comes the Digital Strategists like me talking of interface, on-brand digital interactions brand experience strategies and the like. But to you that is all gobbledygook – the internet is very simple you say– it is no different to out of home, tv, radio etc. It is a broadcast channel and therefore what is good for tv is good for Internet (with a little repurposing of course). Voila! Job done. Knock off early and down the pub for a pie and a pint! That’s the most revolutionary interactive invention in the history of mankind sorted then. Easy this digital stuff – what’s all the fuss about you ask?
A while back I chaired AdTech London and I got very excited about the great case studies that were presented over the 2 days. We had some very clever people and some very successful brands from the UK and abroad come and share their ideas about the future of digital and show some good old digital best practice. And it was great to see digital in practice. By necessity due to the amazing pace of change there is a lot of theory in Digital I find. What we need more of is practice in my opinion because without it we are fumbling about in a digital darkness. Less concept, more proof of concept, so to speak.
I’m doing some training (NLP) in a meeting room and the cute plastic plant in the corner catches my attention. It looks good – too good, too healthy, too cared for for an office plant. And this gets me thinking – what is this plastic plant’s purpose? It sits there in the corner representing a real plant – but why? What is it symbolising to me? What is the plant experience I am having? And would my experience be different if it was real?
These questions lead me to wonder about experience itself – do we actually need ‘real’ to experience the experience that real represents?
An example – if all the lions and tigers died out today – were extinct all of a sudden – would it matter as long as we can have the experience of lions and tigers being alive via our tvs? Would our reality be any different if we chose not be bothered by the non-realness of the animals in the non-Sunday night tv world?
That is ( to bring it back to the plant), does the fakeness or realness of that plant in the room matter as long as I get my plant experience from it?
In some ways the digital transformation of our lives is similar. We now experience many previously ‘real’ experiences in digital versions. Books have become digital for example, and through the design (skeuomorphism) we are able to attach our previous real experience of books to the non-real digital version.
The question is – will ‘real’ no longer be a concept that is understood in the future? Will it just be different types of experience? A pre-digital and post-digital experience?
Will digital become the new norm for our experiences – and analog the non-real one?