Category Archives: brand

What is Experience Strategy?


There is a real snobbery around experiences. It plays out both client and agency side in key discussions about budget allocations and in where creatives and planners desire to work. And yet experiences have power like no other media to create real engagement via a powerful combination of emotion and dwell time. And they provide an exciting challenge – because the best experiences  deliver concepts and approaches that cohere whilst allowing for multiple brand engagements in one space.

But is there anything that distinguishes strategy for experiences from creative strategy for say a print ad, or a radio placement? I have had planners tell me that if you can deliver strategy for either one of these you can easily do strategy for experiences.

Of course you can. But can you do it well?

There are 2 key factors that are additive to traditional approaches which are essential to making experience strategies work

1) understanding multi-layered communications in physical space and

2) a deep knowledge of human behavior in a physical space.
Let me give you an example – you would think that you could take a tv ad and show it on screen inside a physical experience.  However, a busy physical space does not allow for the same levels of attention which means key messages are lost. There is too much noise, no one is going to sit and follow your train of thought, they have very different priorities in the space, which may well include seeing other brands.

Almost all experiences now include physical, digital, media and social elements. Understanding how each one communicates and engages, what people will actually do and how creatives can push at boundaries is essential for briefing and target setting.

Or as another example, take wear and tear. You might think your behavioral economics course has given you everything you need to devise effective experiences. But even as an experienced strategist you may misjudge human interactions with physical objects in a marketing space. For instance, if you direct creatives towards delicate public engagements you need to be 100% clear that your audience is the kind that won’t destroy them by picking at them, knocking against them or deliberately trying to break them. Or steal bits of them. Which is basically no audience I have ever encountered. So you then have to be clear with creatives on protection that is brand appropriate.

So there are disciplines here that don’t cross over when devising strategies for other platforms, but are essential in devising experience strategies that are of any use to creatives. If brand  planners are “voice of the consumer” in the creative process working out what communications need to message on to reach the right  consumers and comms planner give the strategic rigor to the implementation of the idea within media, experiential  strategists do both. But they also need a deep understanding of what that means in a digital context and a physical context from creative to UX.

Approaching experience strategy without understanding these nuances results in ineffective, sloppy experiences that frustrate, or worse, bore the consumer. And no one wants that.

Exploring an experience planner’s  skillset 

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Best Use of Social Media at the Experience Design and Technology Awards


screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-5-19-14-pmWell, the title says it all. We are very pleased to have won with Social Square for Ford. It represents a different approach to social that Imagination explored in Europe with Ford but were fully able to implement at the Detroit autoshow 2106 and in subsequent autoshows. While most social media at events focuses on a short burst of high profile activity from some very high profiles influencers to drive reach and attention we take a different tack.

Our focus is always the visitor to the stand. Across a year about 35 million people attend autoshows big and small. And they buy cars. High numbers are 3 month intenders, it’s a highly concentrated bundle of good for any brand. We focus on the visitors’ needs and how they behave as social interactors. Because of this we construct moments and conversations to appeal to them as they navigate the show and share their experiences with their own audiences, large and small. For them the day they attend is Day 1. They may not even pick up on the big ticket PR social media that happens at press day, because they aren’t the target market for that vehicle. But they are still influential. We then pair that focus on visitors with audience appropriate influencers who are also presenters. Their focus is what happens at show, encouraging people on stand to interact and giving them the reward of social attention and engagement.

It’s a strategy that works, garnering Ford a reach of 13,500,000 across the 10 day period of the Detroit autoshow across all channels and with 30,686 Engaged minutes on YouTube.

Social used to be more about conversation, I feel it’s moving towards the same old shouting we used to see from traditional media. Yes that has its place, but experiential social is just as effective and focused on the buying public. And it’s their interaction which drove our reach and engagement, so I’m doubly proud of this award.

Sochi Social


We are well into the Winter Olympics now in Sochi and I have been poking about trying to find out what social activity looks like.

I think it would be no surprise that social activity is lagging behind London, Russia is another country in more ways than one, and the levels of global excitement are inevitably less than for the Olympics, simply because the sports in the Winter Olympics require conditions that are difficult to find in much of the world.

Brands seem to be taking a safe line – sponsors are getting involved heavily, but challengers are more reticent, possibly due to the controversies surrounding Russian statements about the LGBT community.

Regardless, here is a nice and succinct infographic you might enjoy.

http://http://socialmediatoday.com/sites/socialmediatoday.com/files/sochi_social_infographic_copy.jpg

Ford’s new B-MAX hologram


I was rather pleased to get a package recently from Peerindex and Ford. Inside was a torch and a hologram and some

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information on the new car. I knew Peerindex were running a perk on the car – partly from my profile and also my contact with one of their key creative agencies – but I didn’t expect to get one. So, a nice surprise.

The hologram is sweet and has had a lot of people dropping by my desk to have a look and a play. A torch is provided which you use to illuminate the hologram itself. It’s rather ingenious and a nice way to showcase the fact that the car has no pillar into which the doors close. Which is tricky when you don’t yet have the actual car on the road.
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A nice appetite-whetter and an interesting, creative and strategic approach to blogger outreach. Thumbs aloft.

Social media customer service? It’s not rocket science


I’m slightly confused as to why people think their clients stick with them, or more importantly stay with them. Do they really think that they can serve up whatever user experience suits them and the customer will stick with it? I’m not just talking about functionality and usability, I’m also talking about customer service.

I have recently had a rather poor experience on a side-project that I run. I’m being moved from one provider to another against my will (the result of a buy out) and losing vast amounts of usability and some essential functionality as a result. Ok, I guess I can work with that and research ways around the problem eg other providers, different kinds of webhosting for downloading digital files.  I received assurances from the new provider that certain services would be extended to me for 3 months however these were then removed after 1 month. And when I called to ask if this could be dealt with in any way, reminding them of the previous conversation, I was basically told “computer says no” or not even that really. Finally, they emailed me to ask if I needed any questions answered about migration and I replied with 2 questions – that was 5 days ago and no reply as yet…So I am now in the process of having to migrate my project to another platform completely.

I’m lucky. I know the basics of programming and that gives me substantial benefits in terms of navigating my way around the multitude of website hosting providers, free software publishing platforms like WordPress and free creative tools that exist all over the web. So for me it’s more of an extreme annoyance than a complete full-stop to the project. But as I said, I’m lucky, most of the people using my old provider don’t have that kind of experience so they are left with reduced functionality and a new and rather slapdash provider.

While I appreciate that it’s not really an incoming company’s fault if they don’t offer the functions I need to make my project work, surely every company is now aware that even if they lose me as a customer, if they give great support/customer service then I am more likely to recommend them to someone else further down the line – net promoter score in a very literal sense! As it is I am highly unlikely to recommend the incoming provider to anyone.

There are so many simple, easy touches that make the customer experience better that there is no excuse any more for delivering a poor experience in usability and customer service. Web Hosting Rating asked me to look at their site and maybe write a review and frankly I am happy to, because they clearly demonstrate  just one easy way to make people feel more informed and better helped. It’s not rocket science, it’s a blog. And it’s not even a daily updated blog, it’s an information blog that provides guidance on making the most of the services they provide. More that this, it thinks widely. It references software you might want to host on the platform, how to install and apply it and suggests way to maximise your engagement. And of course all of this makes using their service more attractive and simpler.

There’s a lot of buzz about customer service via social media. It doesn’t have to cost the earth but I firmly believe it will make the difference between businesses succeeding and failing. I would be interested to learn how many of the people who were moved to my new provider are happy with the service they are receiving, how many will leave and how many will stay because they have to.

NFC NVG (not very good)


NFC enabled bus stop in London I am very proud of my new NFC enabled phone, in fact I specifically chose it over a slightly earlier model because I think NFC is going get bigger and more important in the next  couple of years and I like to be in with the in-crowd. So imagine my delight when I discovered that the bus stop at the top of Tottenham Court Road, which I use to catch buses back to Marylebone, has an NFC touchpoint on it.

The touchpoint promises – Travel information and extra information from brands.  And curious I tried it out. All it offers is a link to the TFL mobile site.

Ok, that is travel information, but that’s not extra information from brands. I was disappointed.

I don’t know, but I suspect that Clear Channel are charging brands to put content onto the NFC touch points which is why there was absolutely nothing from brands there.  I would suggest that brands are offered free access and the opportunity to provide any content they want – even a tv ad I’ve already seen would be better than promising everything and delivering nothing. In that way a growing audience will be built. Of course you can argue that these things take time, but why waste time? It doesn’t make sense to offer more than you are going to deliver because my expectation from now on will be that the content behind ad funded NFC will be thin at best and non-existant at worst.