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Brands, Brand Experiences and Brand Engagement



Influencers on TikTok taking a video of themselves
Influencers on TikTok taking a video of themselves


The Internet is now about three decades old and within it, is an entire generation of digital natives who were born with a mouse in the hand and the world wide web as their window to the world. The way in which brand engagement would take place has since been transformed. The term “fragmentation” came into customer segmentation in the early 2000s as brands found their customers changing their media consumption habits. With blogs, video streaming, and finally, social media platforms, which were game changers, as they hollowed out the revenue streams from traditional media.


Despite all the changes in platform engagements from Facebook to Instagram and now, TikTok, the marketing funnel and how it is to be engaged has remained constant. AIDA (Attention>Information>Decision>Action) has all been about the CTA – getting people to click through to watch and act on what they watched – a download, a registration, a purchase, etc.


How then can a brand provide not just pathways to action but also engagements to loyalty?


With the pandemic, the acceleration towards to the possibility of a digital-only brand drive has been made prominent. Brands have since rushed to pivot to any form of digital engagement ranging from virtual product launches and airdrops to digital runways, augmented reality in superimposing products (makeup, shoes, clothes) onto people viewing products from their devices, and livestreamed auctions. From this pivot, it is no surprise that new business models have emerged to go along with the new trends of marketing.


With so much happening within screen-time, it is difficult to separate the brand and its digital experience because the major touchpoint would now be the thumb-scrolls happening on a mobile device or a mouse-click. Customers are literally making decisions about whether to purchase from the brand based on the experiential need that is met on first engagement.


Let’s take ath-leisure wear, which is popular amongst women. The question that most of them are asking is “which top and matching tights will fit me beautifully when I head out to the gym? Will they be able to strategically hide the unsightly whilst accentuating the right curves?”




In that sense, the brand that is able to answer these questions in the most seamless manner from first view to buy-through, and with ample customer support (visible Q&A cues or virtual assistant), clear return policies, will win a repeat customer. It is no longer the value of the products or services per se but the brand experience that finds a confluence with the experiential need of the customer. The operative phrase in the entire context? “Customer’s experiential need in the moment”.


Let’s think a little deeper into funnels and how this brand experience can lead customers to a brand with a generic product.


For example, a dentist. For a dentist in a sparsely populated town where the next dentist is probably 50km away, the only brand presence that you will need is the physical address and contact details like the telephone number and an email address.


Dental clinic, a dentist and his assistant working on a patient


But for a dentist set in the city centre and where ten other dental clinics are around a three-block radius, besides showing up on page one of the Google search, you will want to be seen to quickly engage the customer’s experiential need in the moment. This affects the content on the first page and how the SEO is done so that it meets the exact need in the moment – hint: urgent extractions and toothaches leading to migraines should probably be amongst the initial site engagements to deal with the customer engagement process.


Here are two interrelated ways we think you should go about developing and thinking about your brand experience.


1. Listen hard.


Lots of brands want to be data-driven/led and it can be a good thing. Use the data to guide and provide insights to your engagement. What metrics are you using and equally as important a question, what metrics are your competitors using to measure brand experience and engagement?


Yet on the other hand, do not be too caught up in the data that you miss the forest for the leaves. Pay attention to the trend. In investing, there is a saying that goes “the trend is your friend, until it is not.” Take a macro view before delving into the data. The last thing you want is to be firing the machine gun only to realise that you are hitting the wrong target!


Build a good feedback system – dialogue sessions, roundtables, surveys, to not just be visible in a space, but for fine tuning and alignment.


2. Pivot Fast.


Brands are like sharks.


They have to keep moving. Regardless of whether an innovation is incremental or exponential, the fundamentals in branding and marketing remain unchanged – create the emotional connection and build on it. Not all forms of engagements will last forever. Some of them are seasonal. And brand loyalty is typically fleeting. There will be ebb and flow, what needs to happen is that the brand communicator rides that wave.


There is no silver bullet for brands to respond to ever-changing expectations. Each response has to remain unique. What used to work will soon become common-fare as the market and competition enters to capitalise on the creativity. Creative destruction, in that sense, is the only thing that will keep the cogs on the brand machinery turning.






Copyright SYL+JAS (c) 2021. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or rewritten in any form without expressed permission from the agency.



Here at SYL+JAS, our approach in D2C (direct-to-consumer) takes us from the top of the funnel in ensuring that customers get into the funnel. And this applies closely to our web strategy when we develop websites and microsites for brands. If you need to chat with one of our team members on your D2C strategy, drop us an email at hello@sylnjas.com


 

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The SYL+JAS Bureau Brand Communication Series consolidates the best-in-class thought leadership on the issues pertaining to how brands are being articulated and led. The series empowers brand communicators and custodians alike to design the right strategy and take their brand forward in the midst of competition and uncertainty.




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