Want to Build a Better Brand Experience? Get Your Ducks in a Row

By Chris Cavanaugh, Executive Vice President and CMO, Freeman

When it comes to marketing, brand experience is a hot commodity. I’ve always been a big advocate of this channel because I truly think it’s the future of marketing. This is an evolved form of live events that combines the best of technology, data and storytelling to create a highly impactful form of branding.

And because brand experience is more strategically aligned with the needs and desires of upcoming generations, it’s getting a lot of attention. The problem is that not everybody is 100-percent clear on what a brand experience is, what it can accomplish for a brand, and how best to get full departmental buy-in. Aligning an entire organization around a new approach can be a daunting task (especially if it’s one they’re not already familiar with), but there are a few ways to keep everyone on the same page.

1. Sell them on the value of brand experience. First, it’s important that everyone has a clear understanding of what they’re working toward. Simply put, a brand experience is about designing a sensory experience that brings a person into a lasting and meaningful relationship with a brand. 

Now let’s talk about what brand experience can accomplish for a brand. More than any other medium, brand experience immerses an audience in a brand’s narrative and gives them an opportunity to connect on a much deeper emotional level. It also gives marketers a much bigger set of tools to work with. In addition to technology, strategy and creative, brand experience also includes storytelling, world-building, personalization and all five human senses. Once your team understands what a brand experience is capable of, it’s easier to convince them why it’s an important part of your integrated marketing mix.

We recently commissioned an independent global study that surveyed more than 1,000 marketers in North America, Western Europe and Asia in roles ranging from CMO to brand manager to event planner. We wanted to learn more about how the value of the brand experience is perceived within their organizations. We discovered that, by and large, brand experiences matter to marketers, and they are willing to pay for them. For instance:

  • 59 percent of CMOs value brand experience for creating ongoing relationships.
  • One in three CMOs expects to allocate 21–50 percent of their budget to brand experience.
  • Nine out of 10 marketers agree that brand experience delivers more compelling engagement.

2. Get everybody on the same page. While many of the marketers we surveyed placed a high degree of value on the channel, very few of the groups could agree on where that value came from. Furthermore, as brand experience continues to grow across all sectors, we’re seeing some pretty big disconnects in the marketing roles within an organization. That has a lot to do with the fact that the value placed on brand experience differs across the marketing organization. For instance:

  • 48 percent of CMOs place a high value on brand experience whereas only 33 percent of brand managers and 28 percent of event planners do.
  • 58 percent of CMOs feel that brand experience helps to increase advocacy, yet those numbers drop by 13–18 percent when considered by brand managers and event planners.
  • Meanwhile, more than a third of brand managers and event planners realize the value of the brand experience as a content generator to share with stakeholders who cannot attend in person—yet that ranks high for only 21 percent of CMOs.

Like any business organization, a marketing department’s success relies on aligning objectives and goals with action and execution. And it’s pretty alarming how often there is a breakdown in what marketers say they want to accomplish and what they’re actually doing to get there.

3. Establish a clear-cut mission with clear-cut goals. As usual, the key solution is strategy. That means that marketing, brand, communications, advertising, digital, customer experience, data and marketing automation all have to be working toward the same result. With so many moving parts, everyone has to have a crystal-clear understanding of what they are striving for, with straightforward and measurable outcomes.

Start with the brand strategy. It has to align with the business strategy of the organization. Then move on to the customer. The CMO has to ensure that data is driving an informed view of the audience and must then work with executive leadership to formulate a unified and integrated strategy for connecting to the customer when, where and how they want.

At Freeman, we’ve had quite a bit of experience figuring out the best way to make sure that all of the stars are aligned. For companies to derive true ROI from brand experience, brand managers and event planners need to be on board with their CMO.

4. Lead the charge. When it comes to brand experience, you are embracing one of the most promising and future-proof forms of marketing there is. This is a medium that allows your brand to connect with your consumers’ unique personal values and has the potential to leave an impression that reverberates long after the physical experience has ended. There is real branding power in this channel.

And yet, brand experience is a complex effort that requires all parts working in unison and harmony. It’s hard to do that if the parts in question are not functioning toward the same end goal. As CMO, it is your job to be one step ahead of this. Be an advocate. Rally the troops. And above all, give them a mission they can believe in. The rewards you reap may just be better than anything your brand has seen before.

To learn more about the aforementioned study, download the white paper at https://www.freeman.com/resources/brand-experience-a-new-era-in-marketing?utm_campaign=BE-Research&utm_medium=link&utm_source=PR.

  • Marketing

As mass personalization continues to transform the way in which consumers interact with the world around them, Chris Cavanaugh sees a massive opportunity for Freeman to continue to evolve the brand experience category with its unrivaled reach, scope and insight. He is most excited about supporting the transformation of the Freeman brand as the company reaches the next exciting inflection point in its business. Technology integration, data, experience design and globalization are at the core of the brand experience movement. Freeman is at the epicenter of this change, and Cavanaugh sees an opportunity to articulate the Freeman value proposition in new and meaningful ways as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. 

He began his career at Freeman by helping to create and lead FreemanXP, the company’s agency services organization, which has quickly grown into the one of the largest global brand experience agencies in the industry in three years’ time. Prior to Freeman, he enjoyed a 16-year career at Jack Morton Worldwide (IPG), where he was the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the flagship New York office and later the Executive Vice President and Global Growth Officer for the agency. During his time there, he helped to double the size of the business, working with brands such as Bank of America, Samsung, CA and Pfizer. He helped identify, acquire and integrate companies in the design, digital and expo categories and was known for identifying, nurturing and growing some of the industry’s greatest talent. Prior to this, he worked in television and commercial production.

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