It all begins with an experience

It all begins with an experience. Experience Design is a journey. It is an opportunity to programme the brand as we travel together through what I have come to think of as five stages.

It all begins with an experience.

It’s easy to forget this, surrounded as we are by branding rhetoric that doesn’t correspond with reality – look down any high street, any trade show, any out of town office development and we are confronted with a plethora of clever logos and smooth lines in a reduced colour palette.

I don’t know about you but this reductive approach fails to reflect my life, my hopes, dreams and desires. These are far more multitudinous and multi-coloured.

Big branding agencies such as Lippincott and Interbrand are confident in their thinking and in their defining of brands in visual terms but Visual Identity is just one execution. While Visual Identity can convey a powerful message, it fails to offer an interpretation of the company at an experiential level.

As a result, everything is in beautiful stasis… Delta’s image remains grounded and the ‘T’ of Interbrand’s Deutsche Telekom is a shut gate.

No-one’s going anywhere.

Experience Design is a journey. It is an opportunity to programme the brand as we travel together through what I have come to think of as five stages:

1) Collision – surprise me and be surprised

2) Curiosity – intrigue me and be intrigued

3) Connection – connect with me

4) Collaboration – collaborate with me and be inspired

5) Champion – remember me and tell others

Five, I say – count them on the fingers of one hand.  A handful of ways in which to guarantee a stimulating journey – with a scenic view, sure, but with so much else besides.

Visual Identity gets a brand noticed but it cannot guarantee the work is remembered whereas the art of programming the brand as a journey and as a ‘campaign experience’ means that from the outset it is memorable. It is multi-sensual and multi-dimensional. It invites collaboration and offers the kind of experiences we love, the kinds of relationships that shape us.

Brands are always communicating – quietly in their foyers, loudly in their adverts, proudly in their internal conferences, often ploddingly through their websites, smoothly in their tradeshows – but the communication is one way. By contrast, Experience Design is a great conversation, back and forth. We offer opinions, tell stories, laugh at each other’s jokes, share our sandwiches.

A successful journey is governed by time.  Timing is crucial – we have a train to catch, a sunset to witness. Time stands still and time races.

Whether we are catching up with old friends or during an encounter that could potentially open up into a new relationship, we all know the significance of timing, of anticipation, of seizing someone’s attention and, at other times, of listening quietly. The good and sociable friend knows this, the hot new sexual prospect knows this, the successful raconteur knows this, and this, now is what any brand needs you to know.

Experience Design is the choreography of a campaign and the programming of a brand via individual moments in time.

It is how we need to behave if we want to gain an audience and develop a meaningful relationship with them, one by one.

The guiding principles of Experience Design need to underpin every Brand Conversation and every Brand Relationship.

To this end, employees are potentially the most powerful brand advocates. They represent the brand, they make it real. You know this – ‘employee engagement’ is big business but beyond this what does the Brand Experience offer?

Experience Design is a long-term relationship and it is four dimensional.

It’s about time – in every sense of that phrase.

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