About three years ago I had a fascinating conversation with a friend. Dropping the word brand and using the word experience. I was fighting for the former noting the latter was / should be an outcome of the former, but it did get me thinking about the experience.
One common thing among all humans is story-telling when it comes to a business story-telling is a key part of its brand and interaction internally and with the outside world. But often it stops there. It becomes a one-way oration, something required, but maybe not sufficient in itself.
The experience is bringing the customer, supplier or employee into the story. From choosing where we go next…’turn to page 31 if the princess takes the left door’, to full VR immersion into a product with your customers.
When working on the Land Speed Record Team (Bloodhound SSC), we crafted a series of experiences that orientated around specific moments. The unveiling of the car in the London, our partners Castrol creating a driving experience for suppliers and franchises globally, to the ultimate planning of the actual runs themselves.
A Land Speed Record requires the vehicle to go through the measured mile twice within one hour. That’s a long time to stare at the desert for 120 seconds of action, of which you’ll hear more than you see most of the time. The next challenge was the likelihood of no runs, this is an epic engineering challenge and unless every member of the team agrees, there is no run. So we’ve flown 100 VIPs to the desert to be told the run won’t take place – what then? This is where the experience comes in and it goes beyond just the product (in this case the running of the car). Off the desert there was an entire schedule, shared memorabilia, meeting the team (the story first hand), driving the desert (in a road car, not supersonic one), getting a step by step run through from a helicopter, seeing the car first-hand. Beyond this, we needed to ensure the rest of the world had the chance of the experience, from creating a theatre in the UK workshop from which to watch the runs, to live streaming in schools, to putting data on an open platform and allowing the public to comment and feedback and much, much more.
That is what bringing a brand to life means, creating and enabling the team, the customer, the suppliers and partners to experience it. It is common knowledge that when a person connects on an emotional level the loyalty and commitment goes beyond any ‘I would recommend to a friend’ stat. To do this they need to be part of the story.