Experience Design: Finding The Why, The How And The TimeNews
People don’t experience brands in isolation. Brands are experienced through sustained exposure to tailored interactions. Each interaction (aka touchpoint) imprints upon the customer a meaningful glimpse of what matters to the organization and the role it plays in the lives of their customers. Depending upon how the customer perceives these brand experiences, they can either move on to deeper levels of engagement, or they can drift away. It all depends on the amount of empathetic thought that has gone into the design of the brand experience.
The importance of experience design cannot be overstated. Particularly in today’s service-centric economy, meaningful brand experiences have the power to add value and strategically differentiate organizations. They are intentionally designed to bring the customer into a deeper level of trust, affinity and loyalty. It’s intentional, value-focused and, when done correctly – very powerful.
A prerequisite of any brand experience design is the uncovering of an organization’s “why.” The why is a company’s reason for existing. By articulating the why, organizations are accomplishing two important things that will determine the direction of any meaningful experience design. One, they are examining all needs (current and potential) that their product/service meets. Two, it forces them to link their answer to an identified value proposition that is meaningful to their market. And when thinking in terms of value propositions, identify meaningful, emotional and tangible benefits that your organization provides.
If why answers cannot be linked to a value proposition, an organization needs to either increase the parameters by which new types of why-information is acquired, or they need to reassess the validity of their organization, service or product.
Here are a few questions to get you started with your why question:
- What need does my company directly meet? Why does that matter?
- Why would consumers choose my business over others? Why does that matter?
- Why does my company serve the market(s) it does? Why does that matter?
The question “how” seeks to identify the ways in which the company delivers upon their why. Thinking of this from a customer’s standpoint can incorporate a variety of design thinking techniques. The most simple and powerful way to begin is to outline the entire purchasing process and identify opportunities (touchpoints) in which customers may realize the value of a company’s products/services. This presents organizations a clear view of existing experiential opportunities, as well as a roadmap of potential opportunities.
It’s important to remember, when a company cannot identify a strong answer to their why, they will overcompensate by focusing too much of their value proposition on their how. While the how can be interesting, it cannot last. The mode of delivery and communication for how will always adapt and reflect a changing market. Never substitute the how for the why.
One of the final considerations is that of time. How does a company deliver upon its why over time? This is where a “journey framework” can begin to take shape. In the journey framework, time is the vehicle in which customers move to deeper levels of trust and perceived value. Consumers may experience the why in different ways and at different times in their lives, but each touchpoint reinforces their relationship with the brand
Think of it like dating. Both parties have internal value (their why) that they are willing to extend to the other. They reveal their internal value through various means (their how): physical touch, humor, etc. These expressions of internal value are not communicated all at once – a rational person wouldn’t propose marriage on the first date. Rather, these sentiments are demonstrated and experienced over time, which brings both parties to deeper levels of trust and intimacy.
By thinking through the why, how and time, one can lay the foundation for a lasting brand experience journey. Through this process, one can find how a company is doing it right, areas it could be doing better, and new ways to meet previously-unknown needs. In the end, this way of thinking leads to something that few companies have and many want…strong and meaningful relationships.