Growing up, I envisioned myself being an architect. When other kids were asking for N64s and Furbys, I wanted drafting paper, books on castles, Legos and floorplan magazines. I would sketch out dream homes or build cities out of those amazing little blocks. Any chance I got to see a historical building or get a glimpse into an interesting home when traveling with family I would jump on it.
In short, I was fascinated by the way people interact with physical spaces – and the backdrop they play in our daily lives.
When time came for me to choose a career, the proficiency needed to succeed in architecture (a.k.a. math) was not my strong suit. So, I went to business school and eventually found myself drawn to marketing. In retrospect, I think it was because I could take the architectural values of esthetic, functionality and usability and apply them to the business world.
Our job as marketers is to create an environment that inspires an end user to act – whether that be through sale of product, joining of mission or use of service. The environment we create can be in the physical or digital world – or ideally both – but it must be an experience.
Experiential marketing is a hot topic right now – but it’s often focused on events. I would argue, however, all marketing should be experiential. Whether you go to a website, read a brochure, engage on social media or visit brick-and-mortar, a strong brand will make you feel like you have stepped into a perfectly curated world. In sum, every touch point with your consumer should be considered.
Creating a “marketing space” where consumers immerse themselves into your brand is not unlike building a house. You must start with a strong foundation, like the time-tested principles of consumer research, market knowledge and product differentiation, and the core functions to make it work, like the channels you choose to reach your audience. Both elements are critical and will likely take the most work to get right – but if you don’t have a good base, the cracks will eventually grow and break through.
From there, personality shines. Like the finishes and trims of a home, the experiential elements of a brand are often what drive people to buy in. How does the experience make them feel, what does it make them desire, how does it inspire them – all questions we should ask ourselves as we seek to motivate an action. By digging into these questions, we can create a deeper sense of connection between the brand and the consumer, ultimately leading to stronger loyalty.
Think of a brand you love – and would advocate for. You probably are a fan of the product, of course, but what is your deeper connection? Does it remind you of a happy memory? Or fulfill a secret dream of yours? Perhaps it instills confidence in yourself. I guarantee your favorite brands have taken the time to create a space that allows you to marinate in and celebrate these feelings – and that has you coming back time after time again.
Just like a well-designed environment, marketing can be both functional and aspirational. It can solve a problem for one or create a dream for another. The best marketing does both – it considers the utilitarian needs of the consumer and presents it in a way that makes them smile. It creates a space that makes the use say “yes, this is exactly what I wanted.”
As the brand architects, how lucky are we to be tasked with creating this powerful space?