Brand Experience, Experiential and Events – What’s the difference?

With the advent of digital, social and mobile infiltrating marketing communications, the lines can easily become blurred when it comes to interpreting what an agency can offer in terms of its marketing communications and strategies.

Many agencies will tout their ability to create brand experiences, so it is important to remember that while some types of experiences require significant and specific expertise to conceive and execute, others require a lot less.

Having a working understanding of these strategies, along with how and when they should be used, and which publics are best to engage with for a given brand experience, will be key choices to make – and the difference between a successful campaign or a fail.

Brand experience explained…

Brand experience can perhaps best be defined by what it delivers, rather than the specific form the activity takes. There is vast array of activities taking place in both real time and digital platforms that agencies describe as brand experiences; from experiential stunts, to consumer interactions over the phone or in-store, to corporate events or something as simple as using a brand’s app or website. The agency rationale behind this? Each of these activities offer a meaningful experience that will either progress or reduce a person’s affinity with a brand.

With a positive brand experience, a company can enjoy a richer emotional connection and enhanced brand affinity with the people that matter most.

To be specific, if the aim of advertising is to create an awareness amongst publics of a brand promise, a positive brand experience will deliver proof of a brand’s promise or the benefits that a product or service provides. In sum, a successful brand experience is designed to create unique, specific interactions between brands and or products and services and the people/audiences that they want to reach. If a brand experience is done well, a company can enjoy a richer emotional connection and enhanced brand affinity with the people that matter most. A failed brand experience will have the opposite effect.

Where do events fit in…

An event is a brand experience targeted directly toward chosen audiences. Examples could include consumer or public events, meetings and trade shows – with the common goal to offer prolonged interaction with a brand, its people, products and or services. A successful event will educate the audience about a particular product, alongside providing excellent networking opportunities for both the participants and the brand, with an end goal of getting the participants behind, and inspired by, a new strategy, product or campaign.

What sort of experience should my chosen agency have?

An agency with proven event experience is a non-negotiable if you’re wanting to create effective brand experiences. This type of experience necessitates a specific skill set and expertise, especially when it comes to all the finer details of production. When you’re hiring an agency, keep in mind that you will reap the rewards of the vast amount of relevant information they are privy to; venues, industry contacts, working knowledge of permits required, council regulations etc.

Experiential Activations explained…

Often more consumer-oriented experiences, experiential activations are typically more promotional by nature and are traditionally focused more on general audiences. The benefit of experiential activations is the ability to foster a physical and emotional connection with a brand or product, as well as gaining earned media through both traditional and social media channels, all the while creating an opportunity to create and nurture relationships with audiences that go beyond the physical experience thanks to digital interactions.

Experiential activations often blend with digital activations – they offer the chance to create lengthy, meaningful interactions between a brand and target audiences, ultimate building brand recognition and affinity. Similar to events and other brand experiences, it’s all about the quality of the experience itself – this will define how successful the engagement is, what media is earned and the brand affinity that results.

Do something remarkable

No matter who your agency may be, to get the most bang for your buck out of a brand experience, the experience needs to be extraordinary. It must be memorable and outside of the usual suspects when it comes to everyday experiences. The reason behind this is simple – brands are created through physical and mental availability – and mental availability is built on memory.

Happy endings

Successful, effective brand experiences can create valuable relationships with – and an affinity for – a brand. A truly extraordinary experience will work that much harder.