The Big Idea: You don’t have a brand until until customers experience that brand. Frame your experience to deliver your brand.
I know you say you have a brand. You’ve worked hard on your all your brand elements. But brands don’t happen until someone experiences something. What do your customers experience?
As we’ve discussed many times on this blog, it’s nearly impossible to sell something unique because anyone can sell what you sell. The thing that differentiates you from the competition is the customer experience at the point of brand contact. In fact, the customer experience is part of the the brand equation:
“All companies strive to deliver products or services that are valued by its customers, but the ones with the strongest brands differentiate and delight throughout the entire customer experience. “ - Denise Lee Yohn.
The challenge is to build a differentiated brand experience that becomes a relevant choice for consumers. I think the best way to do that it to use a tool I call The Brand Experience Frame. The brand experience frame is both a physical and psychological boundary.
To illustrate, let’s look at how graduating high school seniors choose where they want to go to college. Around these parts of Central Texas the choice often is often narrowed to Texas A&M and Baylor University. The two schools are separated by just 90 miles of State Highway 6 in Central Texas.
How do potential students choose between the two schools? By their experience frame.
Texas A&M University experience frame: Aggie Pride
Baylor University experience frame: Christian Learning Environment
Walk the campuses of these two schools and you will both feel and see this experience frame. Students can get academics anywhere. But each student chooses their school based on the experience they want while earning their degree. And that’s how customers choose businesses, if you give them that choice.
Framing Your Brand Experience
Framing your experience makes all the difference in your brand, as illustrated by the two universities above. Your business takes on a personality and creates something memorable for customers. Your brand becomes real, touchable, and talkable.
Unfortunately, many businesses create their brand experience on the fly, as a collection of good ideas. “I like that idea, let’s use that.” “Did you see what XYZ is doing? It’s a great idea and we should do that.” Good ideas collections do not make a brand.
Using the frame as the guide to the brand experience:
- Gives your experience flavor, and that flavor is your brand.
- Stimulates the creativity of creating the experience.
- Creates a cohesive experience.
The key to using the brand experience frame tool is name your frame. Choose a metaphor that frames your brand's experience.
Big brand example:
An experience with The Container Store is a A Dance Lesson
Using the Brand Experience Frame Tool
There’s nothing complicated about the frame. You can draw one on a sheet of paper or download my pretty one here (right click and “save link as”)
- Name your frame with a metaphor. Try out several metaphors and find the one that best fits your brand promise and brand personality.
- Fill out your frame with key attributes of your metaphor. A campfire is hot, it needs a spark, it needs kindling, it is a gathering place. Write everything in the middle of your frame.
- Turn those attributes into brand experience initiatives. Choose the top three attributes and apply those to your brand promise. Ask yourself: How you I create an experience point for my customers?
Your brand experience frame is the starting line for your brand experience initiatives. These are the things that separate your brand from your industry. The brand experience frame is a powerful tool that yields differentiation.
Because a brand doesn’t exist until someone experiences it.
What are the experience points of your brand?