Why Brand Experience Is Critical For Business Success

by Laurence Parkes Rufus Leonard

The term ‘brand experience’ (BX) is used to refer to how a brand is perceived across all of the touchpoints that its customers interact with.

Not only does brand experience impact how a customer feels about a brand, but it also has a significant financial impact on customer spend, loyalty and recommendations. Brands with a good BX command 79 per cent higher purchase intent and an average of 45 more Net Promoter Score points than the lowest performing.

However, despite the clear business impact of brand experience, organisations continue to struggle to deliver consistent, connected, and meaningful brand experiences.

How To Measure Brand Experience: Think, Sense, Feel, Do, Connect

While we have previously used tools such as brand tracking, customer satisfaction scores and Net Promoter Scores, we constantly found it frustrating that no overall measurement existed for brand experience.

Understanding this would help us identify moments across the entire customer journey where it’s most important for a brand to differentiate by exceeding customer expectations. It would allow brands to create roadmaps for where to concentrate their effort, as part of the journey to constantly improve experience across the board.

That’s why we developed the Brand Experience Index (BXi), to fill this gap. It finally gives us an overall measurement for brand experience, something that has been to date virtually impossible to extract.

The BXi has identified five core facets of brand experience that have a direct impact on customer loyalty. These include;

  • ‘Think’, which refers to a brand’s ability to communicate its purpose.
  • ‘Sense’, where a brand engages customers through the five senses using immersive experiences.
  • ‘Feel’, which involves creating emotional impact.
  • ‘Do’, whereby a brand facilitates behaviours and solves problems for consumers.
  • ‘Connect’, which involves inspiring a sense of belonging.

We then conducted a survey of 2000 UK adults to gauge their views on 30 pre-selected brands across B2B, travel, FMCG, and financial services sectors. Respondents were asked to rate the brands according to the five facets using a seven-point scale, which form our Brand Experience Index. The BXi contains a number of key takeaways for brands and marketers.

B2C Brands Can Learn From B2B

A common marketing myth is that B2B trails behind the B2C sector by a couple of years. In fact, demand by institutional clients has driven greater sophistication in B2B brands. This has resulted in personalisation and 1-2-1 marketing having been the norm for some time.

So it’s no surprise that the B2B category is the highest-scoring BXi category. B2C brands should be looking to emulate B2B brands on these fronts.

Premium Does Not Equal BX Success

Two of the brands that lead their categories are value players (Premier Inn and Asda) beating more premium brands in their categories (like Marriot and Waitrose). This shows that extraordinary Brand Experience isn’t about throwing money around. It’s about finding the right value exchange and surpassing your customers’ expectations.

Over 15 years, Premier Inn has consistently communicated its promise of ‘A good night’s sleep guaranteed’. This is not only marketing hyperbole, but apparent in the service offered – a premium experience with a choice of pillows and Hypnos Mattresses.

In a marketing landscape where taglines often seem hollow, the fact that Premier Inn stakes its name on a tangible benefit makes it meaningful.

Set Expectations And Then Exceed Them

One of our BXi champions in the financial services sector is Lloyds Bank. The bank uses communications to clarify their purpose at both a group level, ‘Helping Britain Prosper’ and a brand level, ‘By Your Side’, setting high expectations.

They work to exceed these high expectations through their high investment in key elements, such as their market-leading app. They have taken steps to join up their channels – a visit to the branch reflects changes made in the app or online.

The numbers highlight their achievements in the last year alone: underlying profit increased by eight per cent compared to 2016. Plus, the number of mobile banking users increased to 9.3 million.

How Brand Experience Will Continue To Evolve

Consumers will expect to be able to contact brands through voice (e.g. Alexa), social channels (e.g. WhatsApp), and chatbots. They will expect brands to seamlessly track their conversations across these multiple channels.

This poses both technical and cultural challenges for brands. There will be an increasing need to make it simple for customer service staff to track the conversation. It will become essential that employees are trained on how to talk in the brand’s voice in very divergent contexts.

Ultimately, businesses that keep consumer needs and their brand promise at the heart of their investments will continue to succeed. Our Brand Experience Index methodology will help organisations to do this.