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The role of timing in getting brand experience right

Jake Pilgrim

Head of Customer Experience

Kantar, Insights Division


Got a moment?

The role of timing in getting brand experience right

When I think about the “brand experience” I think about the entire ecosystem that lives around a brand. It encompasses all the interactions people have with a product, service or organisation, and includes everything you have seen and heard – or even felt, smelt or tasted – about it. It’s important for businesses to get this experience right; we found that brands perceived as delivering a high-quality branded experience grew their brand value 188 percent on average over the last 12 years. In comparison, those perceived as delivering a poor experience grew only 18 percent.

So, how do companies create a brand experience that resonates with customers? The brand promise needs to be differentiated, valuable and consistently delivered to meet customer needs. Brands can differentiate themselves through emotional attachment and a unique personal match, provide value through specific customer benefits at an appropriate cost/effort, and consistently and intentionally meet their customers’ needs.

For organisations to deliver their own branded experience, traditional silos between brand communications and customer experience need to be broken. A symbiotic relationship between the brand promise and customer experience has to exist to ensure alignment of what we say we will do and what we are actually doing. This is why 91 percent of CEOs believe customer-centricity is essential to driving business growth.

To help determine your strategy for delivering a branded experience it’s interesting to understand what drives people’s decision-making process. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel prize-winner who has helped define behavioural economics, suggests that everyone has two “selves”: the experiencing self and the remembering self. The experiencing self is the "you" in the moment who lives through the experience. The remembering self is the "you" who writes the history about that experience.

To understand the impact of the two selves on decision making, Kahneman observed 154 patients undergoing a painful medical procedure in 1990. The procedures differed in duration, and the patients were asked to rate the scale of their pain from 0-10 every 60 seconds. Kahneman found that the duration of the treatment didn't affect patients’ perception of the pain endured. Even when there was a similar pain intensity perceived by all patients, if the treatment ended with a high pain rating, the patient with the shortest treatment time retained a much worse memory of the event. Kahneman concluded that people remember experiences that impact their future decisions in two ways:

  1. People only really remember the peak moment of an experience and its end
  2. The duration of an event has little effect on the memory of the experience

At Kantar, our research suggests a similar finding about the importance of specific moments. On average, we found that 20 percent of touchpoints have 80 percent of the impact on how people feel about a brand. Making sure you get the experience right at those moments that matter is the key to delivering a successful brand experience.

This is increasingly important in the multichannel, always-on society we live in today. The explosion of customer touchpoints makes understanding the customer journey as important as ever in order to be able to identify and leverage the key moments in which to deliver your brand experience.

I saw this executed exceptionally well at a hotel chain recently. On a trip to Asia I stayed with this chain for the first time. The staff, service, rooms and cleanliness were all to the highest standard – but this was expected. After the second day, the staff started using my first name to greet me, they knew my order for breakfast, and gave me an extra towel, water and snack just before I went to the gym. They understood my routine and personalised the experience around it, making me feel at home.

As I checked out, I noticed the great fragrance in the lobby, and left with a smile on my face. A month later I stayed at a different hotel in the chain. As soon as I walked in the same smell greeted me again. I was taken back to the positive moments of my last trip and went on to have another exquisite visit and the same brand experience.

That hotel’s brand promise is “Hospitality from a caring family”. During both visits, I felt cared for and at home. They created an emotional connection right until the end of my journey and consistently delivered it in both stays across different properties. Bringing your brand promise and customer experience together at the moments that matter is the first step in delivering a true brand experience.