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Thinking

Why brand experience matters (now more than ever)

Cultural shifts driving change graphic

AUTHOR: NATHAN WATTS
READ TIME: 4 MINS

Head of Consumer Nathan Watts makes the case for brand-led experience – and identifies the cultural shifts driving a change in the way brands connect with audiences

Decades ago, one brand broke away from the confines of the fizzy drink category to become a subcultural powerhouse, synonymous with energy, risk and adventure.

While watching brave folk gamble with their lives, even the most risk-averse consumers could feel part of an adventure and a community of action sports lovers.

Red Bull’s brand experience created novel spectacle, ‘gave wings’ to daring competitors, and in turn, established the brand as a global icon. But while Red Bull might have blazed the trail, smart brands across every vertical are now embracing brand experience to connect with audiences. We think this comes in response to four cultural shifts:

1. Social disconnection

The proliferation of social media and technology has led the world to feel fragmented and disconnected. Consumers worry that AI will lead to the loss of human interaction and are placing more value on interpersonal relationships than ever before. Against this backdrop, brands can help people find connection.

“Smart brands know their reputations and relationships with audiences are defined by the brand-led experiences they serve.”

2. Uncertain futures

Driven by technological, political and environmental unknowns, consumers are feeling complex emotions around what the future holds. Here, brands can provide stability, reassurance and familiarity with their products, services and actionable advice. 

3. Loss of identity

With society in flux, there’s a growing focus on introspection and self-exploration among consumers; knowing what we individually stand for and what’s important to us has become ever-more important. Consumers are favouring brands that reflect their identity and values, with 80% saying they “make an effort” to buy from companies that support causes important to them (Kantar). In response, brands must remain authentic and be prepared to balance increasing demands from consumers and wider society – something our Citizen Brands study also supports.

4. Recognition that health is wealth

The past few years have left consumers more preoccupied with their physical and mental health than ever. Strained healthcare systems have left consumers searching for holistic approaches to their well-being, while the over-commercialisation of health and wellness (or ‘wellness-washing’) has come under fire from more sceptical audiences. In the health and wellness category, brands must help consumers play a more active role in their own health and do so in a way that feels empowering and accessible.

Digital channels and platforms offer limitless opportunities to create brand universes that audiences want to be part of. But with such limitless opportunity comes potential headaches for brand owners. How can they make sure the brand experience supports key objectives – whether they be building a fanbase, supporting self-betterment or creating lifelong brand advocates?

Our Brand Experience Playbook is here to provide clarity and guidance for brand-led experience decision-makers.

Download our free playbook to find out.

Nathan Watts

Head of Consumer - LDN

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