LONDON: A brand is increasingly defined by those who experience it, making it necessary to create not just a branded customer experience but also to build an organisation that can respond to expectations.

In a Warc Best Practice paper – How to design a branded customer experience – Stuart Crawford-Browne, director of Phoenix Rising, observes that developing engaging customer-centric brands is a fundamental marketing challenge that organisations frequently fail to achieve.

What brands claim and how brands behave are often dissonant, while a similar gap may be evident between how a brand thinks it is performing and how consumers perceive it.

The brand experience has to deliver on the brand promise, Crawford-Browne says. "Key to this is a clear, cohesive vision for the brand that ensures that all branded activities align with a core sense of purpose".

The brand promise can be supported by reasons to believe, by benefits that the customer experiences deliver and which clearly reinforce what the brand stands for.

"Brand experience design orchestrates this across the customer journey as an end-to-end performance where brand signatures or elements of the brand experience all work together to deliver on the brand promise and make effective, immersive and memorable experiences," he says.

Central to this process is the practice of customer journey mapping, which provides a visual perspective of end-to-end customer experiences and a deep contextual understanding of how customers feel about and respond to interactions and connections with the brand.

A key objective of this technique, Crawford-Browne explains, is to build consensus on the "reality gap" – the gap between the actual customer experience and the planned or ideal customer experience – and then to begin to plan how that can best be narrowed.

"Designing effective brand experiences requires the creation of easy and efficient, desirable or highly memorable brand experiences," he says.

"Brand experiences that create an immersive experience and influence change are likely to have the most impact."

Data sourced from Warc