The Pitfalls of Brand Experience

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One of the biggest challenges brands face today is making consumers actually feel something. In a marketing landscape that is saturated with inputs, we as consumers have become numb to the inundation. Enter brand experience.

At Optimist Inc., a brand experience agency based in LA with studios around the globe, a complicated landscape is boiled down to a simple approach: Projects / About / People. Making projects about people is a way to ensure an emotional and human connection. In this approach, a combination of inputs come together to transcend individual tactical iterations and encapsulate one big idea. These big ideas are based on an understanding that today’s culture is an amalgamation of subcultures. One size no longer fits all. We are living in an era of cultural convergence, so why should our approach to marketing be any different?

Brands now need to be as dynamic as their consumers, if not more so, and that means thinking big idea first and engaging subcultures on their own respective terms. It’s not enough for brands to pay to play in these spaces. With a generation of consumers who have been bombarded with “authenticity” as a buzzword, partnership and true collaboration are more likely to deliver the emotional connection that consumers crave, as they carry more weight.

Over the course of the past year, major brands have begun to engage heavily in creative collaboration, and then share that experience with consumers. One such moment was the Uber Eats coming out party at SXSW. For Uber Eats, a brand born in digital, the challenge was showing up and engaging with their core demographic in a way that was both engaging and fresh, while also staying true to the brand. After all, what is more analog than food? The way in which they solved this challenge was to acknowledge that their service was a portal to something greater and in doing so, Uber Eats was able to build credible partnerships with chefs, restaurants, and artists including Christina Tosi, David Chang, Virgil Abloh, Billie Eilish, Franklin BBQ, and McDonalds to name a few.

Through this acknowledgment and these meaningful partnerships, Uber Eats was able to create a series of unforgettable experiences. They did this while addressing festival goers’ needs and staying true to their core message that food is a cultural force that brings people together. In addition to serving as a showcase for the brand, this approach speaks directly to the new generation of consumers and the big idea at the core: people.

A successful brand experience should transcend barriers, transform spaces and ignite conversation. Brand experience is seen as the culmination of a marketing campaign, but most marketers are missing the point. The brands of the future will be hyper-connected to their consumers in a variety of ways, whether it’s through their empathy, their values or simply the way they make those connections. Brand experience is an opportunity you don’t have in traditional channels, and instead of staring at a set of data points, you are engaging with actual human beings, right in front of you — it’s a human experience.

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