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Brand experiences - more than just a moment in time

Five ways in which brands can harness the power of positive experiences

Ballerina flashmob surprises and entertains crowds as part of a Pandora Christmas Delights event
Ballerina flashmob surprises and entertains crowds as part of a Pandora Christmas Delights event

It’s no coincidence that the brands with the greatest cultural relevance and the highest social value today are those with experiences at their heart. From Facebook to Fitbit, Uber and Airbnb – these are the brands people talk about and depend upon. 

People love doing things… but why should brands invest? Having worked on, researched and evaluated experiences for many years, we have coined a phrase to explain the value of them to brands. We call it The Exponential Experience Returns (TEER) Theory and it works due to the way people relate to experiences. Done well, experiences have the power to cement a brand in memory for the long term, driving emotional engagement, affinity and brand value, because people respond to experiences in a unique way. 

Unlike the objects we purchase (which we quickly habitualise to and devalue) our memory of an experience is enriched over time. Humans have a tendency for something called 'euphoric recall'. A phrase first coined in the 1980s by scientists studying addiction, it describes the way in which people remember past experiences in a positive light while overlooking negative aspects. Euphoric recall is the reason people don’t reflect on the long queues they stood in at a football match or the bad weather at a gig. Euphoric recall is the reason anyone has more than one child in life. 

Despite having nothing physical to show for it, spend on experiences is highly enriching because experiences define us as people, far more than what we own. Through photos, conversations and anecdotes, we not only relive our experiences but actually enhance them in our memories and integrate them into our identities. The way in which brand experiences are designed, shared and celebrated is critical, though, and we have five rules which we employ to ensure we are always pushing our standards. 

1 The headline is not the headline

It’s easy to get preoccupied with the one big announcement for your event when, in fact, this is rarely critical. Our friends at Bestival emphasise the power of the whole experience over scrabbling to secure a big name, and their new line-up poster reflects this. Their organisation has grown through creating a consistent atmosphere and a number of unique details over big artists. 

2 Details matter 

Don’t scrimp on the little things because they will add richness to your event. Create details which people can discover along the way and don’t worry that not everyone will notice because the ones who do will praise you for it.

Virgin Atlantic's salt and pepper shaker set

3 Remember that people make their own fun

Delivering a great experience means relinquishing some control. The best events become a personal experience between friends and family, and your job is to be the tinder spark. At our LEGO Imagination Factory events we set the tone, entertain, but ultimately give kids a free rein to get stuck into LEGO on their own.

Kids get stuck in at a LEGO Imagination Factory event

4 Design for sharing 

Amplification is vital for good ROI but rarely gets the design and attention it needs. We follow the 1:9:90 model (1% will attend, 9% will like/interact and 90% will read/hear about it passively) to ensure that we focus as much attention on amplification as we do on the live aspects. At our Pandora #Christmas Delights event, a bespoke ‘flashmob’ recreated the Sugar Plum Fairy dance from The Nutcracker, delivering not only a fantastic, shareable live moment but engaging content for the nearly four million people who viewed it as a film online.

5 Create assets which last

Events can seem costly, but the great ones come back year after year. The roof garden we created for John Lewis’ 150th birthday in 2014 required sizeable investment upfront but has evolved from a pop-up event space to a permanent rooftop restaurant destination, due to assets that can be reused.

Rooftop garden for John Lewis' 150th birthday

For too many clients, brand experiences are viewed as a ‘nice to have’, an after-thought for campaigns, executed only when budget allows. They are deemed to be luxuries with limited reach when in fact they are a strategic asset capable of driving brand value and reaching a mass audience.

Want to find out how the right experience can drive ROI for your brand? PrettyGreen has the answers

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