We’re at the tail end of another year in the ever-evolving world of brand experience and delivering a first-class campaign in both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) environments remains a key objective for brands – and of course, the agencies that support them. Indeed, if 2018 has taught us anything, it’s that storytelling – being able to connect with your target audience in a personal and authentic way – has never been more important.
And within that broad template some other themes have surfaced over the past 12 months, with some of the more notable highlights below.
Bigger Is Better
If you have the appetite – and the budget – going all-out is still perhaps the most effective way to guarantee attention. You need a good idea, but if something works at one size it’s probably going to work even better if you make it bigger. And things didn’t come much larger in 2018 than the 25ft smouldering sculpture of Jeff Goldblum that Now TV and Fever PR used to promote the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park. Planted outside of the Tower of London, Jurassic Jeff campaign received global coverage, trended on Twitter and even picked up an Instagram share from the man himself.
Building A Mystery
Never underestimate the power of the tease. At this year’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, first-time exhibitors Buzzfeed needed to figure out a way to stand out in an expo that was filled with scores of super-brands all trying to out-position each other. So, they went the opposite way, dropping a huge, slightly intimidating red box in the hall, that told you nothing about what was inside. You had to go in to find it yourself, and what an experience it was: a maze that contained a series of connected rooms that you navigated through doors by picking one of two answers from classic Buzzfeed-style questions (examples: “What does LOL mean?” or “How do you pronounce GIF?”).
Enter a door to discover one of Buzzfeed’s many brands, including Tasty, Nifty and Goodful, with a personalised experience from each. Buzzfeed’s super friendly team was on hand to guide you on your way, and for me it was absolutely one of the very best exhibition stand experiences of the year. (Oh, and it’s “laugh out loud” and a hard “G”.)
Feeding The Senses
Many of the best campaigns are both experiential and immersive, and this is one area where food and beverage brands have a distinct advantage. "Whenever you can, put a company in your mouth,” says Bobby Axelrod, the billionaire hedge fund manager on TV’s Billions. Back in July, Bombay Sapphire and Wasserman invited artists and guests to a warehouse takeover in Shoreditch to stir their creativity at a live art experience. The event, which was called Canvas and ran for four days, celebrated creative flair and featured interactive drink-making installations for visitors to enjoy. By combining the very social pursuits of real-time art with cocktail making, Bombay Sapphire unveiled a truly unique experience which resonated on a variety of spectrums.
So, what can we expect from brand experience in 2019? As we tiptoe closer to true artificial intelligence expect breakthroughs there to help marketers deliver audience experiences that are both increasingly sophisticated and personal – think Minority Report – driving huge advantages for event and sales staff, too. Indeed, the divide between sales and marketing departments will continue to narrow to ensure that an agile but singular experience is delivered to the ever-savvy consumer. Creatives will work harder to smooth out the steps on that all-important customer journey to forge a seamless, holistic experience. But while some things will change, others will stay the same, with connection, communication and conversation remaining the key elements for optimal customer experience. Because brands that tell stories, win.
Identity are a sponsor of The Drum Experience Awards. The finnalists of these awards have been announced, you can purchase tickets to the event on 4 December at the Marriott Grosvenor Square London, now.