Differentiate your brand with an experience architecture

Desperate for differentiation: Creativity galvanizes the total brand experience.

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"When everyone is super, no one will be." Little did "The Incredibles" villain Syndrome know that he was predicting the challenge of both digital experiences and customer experience itself.

Sure, your coffee app and online retail store work great. Check. Your banking site takes payments. Check. Your manufacturing website publishes your catalog. Check. That was money well spent. You met the ease and effectiveness needs of customers. You drove your top (and maybe bottom) line.

But you also inadvertently created experience sameness. You forgot about making an emotional connection. You lost your brand identity along the way. The question every company should be asking is: "In our pursuit of meeting customer needs, have we homogenized the brand itself?"

Jay Pattisall and I advise CMOs to overcome experience sameness by bringing creativity to the fore to create tech-enabled digital and physical experiences that are as emotionally powerful as communication, where creative power garnishes the total brand experience.

Right. What's that? Well, I'm not quite sure about all of it. But one thing's for sure: Experiences built with a templated framework on packaged software using only the thinnest understanding of a customer's need to be treated well aren't enough.

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We will all need to figure out how to build an experience architecture to support the brand promise, one that:

  • Uses custom code and integration to operationalize what the brand stands for. Is your brand about elevating the human condition? The experience should, too. Is a customer anxious? Sense that, then make sure you offer them tea and sympathy -- then solve their problem with software. Yes, use packaged software, but extend it with code that can help you make an emotional connection to customers.
  • Integrates all customer data assets so you can act with insight and with relevance. Use data to conduct a conversation with your customer. Be a financial advisor. A fashion advisor. A manufacturing parts advisor. Be helpful with software. Blend your customer data with behavioral data, profile data, and environmental data to know what's relevant.
  • Takes full advantage of the cloud for agility, scale, and intelligence. Take advantage of all the scale, the continuous integration and deployment, the ever-advancing AI and machine-learning tools, and the outsourced operating hassles offered by today's cloud platforms. And your security concerns? You can solve them with the right level of investment.
  • Optimizes engagement by knowing the impact on satisfaction as well as business. When you measure the impact of a digital experience in both ways, you'll know what worked and why or what didn't work and why not. Instrumenting every touchpoint with sensors that gather sentiment as well as results will give you the data to generate the insights to help you optimize the experience.

OK, so this feels like a manifesto instead of a plan, and it's missing lots of parts and nuance -- and evidence that it matters. We know that. So we plan to do some research to understand what it means to bring creativity to the fore, put emotion into the code, and use software to express the brand values.

This post was written by Vice President & Principal Analyst Ted Schadler and originally appeared here.