Why You Need Experiential Brand Language
BY MARK MONEYPENNY & DEVIN MOORE
Don’t leave a brand to chance.
The River Stone Phenomenon: Have you ever picked up a river stone and held it? There is something about the shape, smoothness, and warmth/coolness of the rock that feels good in your hand. These characteristics create a cause and effect relationship. An experience is created and the effect is a calming emotional connection. We don’t know why exactly it feels that way, but it’s just right.
This phenomenon is very present in products. Attributes that users aren’t conscious of can often define the experience of a product. Our senses ignite in the very first moments of interacting with a product, and if designed thoughtfully can generate a powerful experience and a lasting emotional connection.
“We think of a brand as the promise of an experience.” – Alexander Isley, designer and educator
At Big Bang we use the term Experiential Brand Language, or XBL, to describe the array of interaction points that are branding opportunities. A product XBL can include anything in the categories of sensory, engagement, and interactive, and the range of these categories is a testament to the number of opportunities, or touch points, available to express a brand. Each can represent a brand and be managed, or designed as such. Our design intent is to create a positive emotional connection by crafting an experience that both connects to the product’s brand promise and engages a user.
“The last best experience that you have anywhere suddenly becomes the minimum expectation for the experience you want everywhere.” – Matt Candy, IBM
Beyond a products basic function, the Experiential Brand Language is the essential element in connecting a product’s experience to the brand. The initial experience a user has with a product establishes a standard, and a properly crafted XBL can assure competitive differentiation, customer engagement, and communicate the essential value to the user.
An XBL exists whether or not it’s been crafted. It’s an unsettling realization that the product experience can be arbitrary, but this is very common. If it isn’t clearly and thoughtfully defined, anyone along the line in the development cycle of the product can define or effect it, and without an understanding of the company or of its intended brand.
Big Bang has worked for decades developing and refining processes and tools to ensure that our client’s brand language is properly communicated through the product’s experience, including archaeological audits of a brand and/or product assets, development of XBL guidelines, and maintenance of the XBL beyond the program engagement; not to mention employing skilled creators with hundreds of product experiences under our belts. The XBL is important to businesses no matter their size, from startups to fortune 500s. Our method is designed to be adaptive and scalable. It can evolve, build, or connect a brand depending on its size.
We don’t leave brands to chance by filling in all of the touch points from research to final production. Every touch point the user has to a brand is an opportunity to establish a positive connection. Experiences create connections. Connections can engage, inspire, and build customer loyalty. And customer loyalty ensures a successful product that strengthens the brand and customer base.