The most successful brands have many things in common, but the undeniable common denominator is their ability to tell their brand story. Your brand story is an intricate web of conscious and subconscious interactions between you and your consumer. From your logo and website to social media and advertising, your brand story isn’t just content and narrative. It’s what people believe about your company and how they feel about it.
The avenues the most successful brands take to tell their story pave the way for the most important aspect of a successful brand story: a personal connection with their consumers. Until you’ve established a personal and memorable connection with your consumer, you are just one of hundreds of brand interactions your consumer experiences each day.
Whether it’s through ads or free samples, there are many interactions that enable you to communicate your brand story. But increasingly the most effective way to make a personal connection with your consumer is by immersing them in a physical experience. This allows you to transport them to your world and captivate with undivided attention. To proclaim your brand ethos and signify why. As Simon Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
One obvious example of successful immersive experiences comes from the master of storytelling, Walt Disney. Their attractions utilize multiple senses, sometimes even including smell. As Marty Sklar writes in his book “One Little Spark!”, the Imagineers follow four core principles as they build immersive experiences: organize the flow of people and ideas; communicate with visual literacy (color, shape, texture); avoid overload; and only tell one story at a time.
Another example of well-executed experiential marketing is Bud Light’s “Whatever, USA”. Taking over Catalina Island for a weekend, Bud Light transformed the entire town into an omnipresent marketing campaign for just 1000 lucky lottery guests full of parties, music and games. The interesting take on this approach was their endgame of not just building a memorable experience for those guests, but to ultimately drive a massive social media broadcast created by those guests. The results were impressive – the social KPI achieved 587 million impressions with a 3.55% engagement rate. This approach was based on some key insights about millennials – that they value experience more than material possessions and they will share these experiences via social media to increase their social currency.
The goal of these immersive experiences isn’t singularly to sell more products, but to create positive brand associations and grow relationships with their audience. People crave brands that feel authentic and genuine and the best way to accomplish that is through face-to-face experiences and personalized conversations. Especially with millennials, aim for connecting instead of selling. This will lay the foundation for brand loyalty, drive your social media reach and extend your marketing cycle far beyond any advertisement can accomplish.
It’s the difference between a billboard and a book – an immersive experience constructs a comprehensive path to tell your brand story and arms your consumers with what they value most: an authentic, genuine experience and a story they can share.