Brand Experience Innovation: How to Bake in the Wow

When your innovation process feels rote, uninspired, or risk-averse, it’s time to hit the restart button. Reframing your process to be about true “brand experience” can be the boost of power your organization needs.

No matter your product development approach — whether it’s consumer-led, creative-led, technology-led, or market-led — you can transform it by addressing from the outset how your ideas evoke emotional response to your brand.

When brands go beyond developing opportunistic new product ideas to creating 360-degree immersive product experiences that fully express the brand’s vision, we at Fletcher Knight call this approach Brand Experience Innovation. It’s how smart brands generate ideas for products that prompt deep consumer desire and hit the sweet spot where unmet consumer needs intersect with market opportunities.

Consider how experience of the brand elevates ho-hum products:

  • Adjusting a conventional thermostat feels so one-dimensionally up-or-down, on-or-off. Nest, however, feels like you’re creating a healthy environment, inside and out.
  • Munching on a downsized cookie feels like you’re depriving yourself. But biting into a delicate Oreo Thin makes you feel like a smart, sophisticated snacker.
  • Once upon a time, beef jerky was just a savory indulgence. But now, classic brand SlimJim and newcomer Krave are nothing less than expressions of postmodern masculinity.

To innovate products that evoke such feelings, you need to bake in brand experience from the beginning of your process. When you imbue new product ideas with brand experience, your earliest designs incorporate not only what products do and how they do it, but also what they stand for and how they promise to transform consumers’ lives. Then, tests of your earliest prototypes will go beyond obtaining feedback about function and usability.

This approach enables the design team to bring rich, fully positioned brand experiences to life early in the process, and then rapidly iterate improved versions with input from leading-edge consumers, opinion leaders, and influencers. We like to think of it as baking the “Wow” into the “What,” and the result is nothing short of strategic advantage.

Brand Experience Innovation doesn’t seek to overstep the conventional boundary between designers and marketers, but it does ask the innovation team to experiment strategically with how the product builds a relationship with the consumer, with the brand’s philosophy and values as guide.

With Brand Experience Innovation, you get beyond the dry analytics of strategy decks and start to get a creative projection of what your brand can stand for in the opportunity space. You’ll be able to determine not just “where-to-play,” but you will achieve a true vision of for brand’s right-to-win.

In a recent project, our client’s revolutionary new personal care technology was failing to inspire desire in focus groups. Then, the innovation team began to incorporate our Brand Experience Innovation approach. At a stage much earlier than they were used to, we infused cultural reference points and brand philosophy into written concepts, adcepts, and packaging concepts. Consumers suddenly “got” the technology – and got excited about the intuitive product benefits. What the client learned from using adcepts and packaging in those focus groups informed and updated the whole brand experience. Their product, unique not just for its technological innovation, but for its brand expression innovation, went on to achieve breakthrough concept scores in quant testing that lit the way forward.

How will you know when you’ve cracked the Brand Experience Innovation code? When your product establishes cultural currency, sparks desire, and evokes an authentic connection with customers who can see, feel, and truly understand the story you’re trying to convey. You’ll see the proof in your brand’s ability to go to market faster with clear guiding principles for success.

 

Would your brand benefit from our Brand Experience Innovation approach? To learn more, contact us at 203-276-6262 or email Laurence@fletcherknight.com. To receive regular insights on innovation and brand strategy, please sign up for our FK Insights newsletter or connect with us on LinkedIn.

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