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The true value of brand experience is a three-sided story

Luci Beaufort-Dysart, director of boutique live events and experiential agency, Hyphen, shares the three sides to the brand experience story.

When it comes to quantifying the value of brand experiences, there are at least three sides to the story, but the ripple effects are limitless.

The first is one that’s been well-covered in recent months by our industry and given a global voice by the #WeMakeExperiences campaign – the value of experiences to the UK economy. At £84 billion the value is significant.

Experiences have the power to build brands and relationships, inspire action and create new economic opportunities for businesses, communities and individuals. Brand experiences connect people, organisations, and cultures in ways that create positive change on a local and global scale. The channel also teaches us what audiences value, and increasingly, it’s experiences over material possessions.

The lesser talked about value, which is harder to quantify, is that of the social impact that the industry contributes to, by bringing people together. And there are two sides to that story.

The social value of brand experiences

Our purpose at Hyphen is to connect brands and their audiences in an authentic and memorable way. But for much of last year and for the foreseeable future, this has not been possible in the way that we would like. For all the obvious safeguarding reasons, which we respect. So, we have, as has everyone in the industry, evolved and have adopted a more hyper-local approach to our activations, and further embraced the virtual world and all its benefits.

While the virtual 2D world is a good alternative for keeping brands and their audiences connected, what it’s highlighted even more than ever before, is the true value of the live, 3D world in which we have traditionally activated. For connecting people and communities face-to-face, for forging relationships, enabling trial of products, creating user-generated social media content, facilitating collaboration, and giving people the emotional connection that human beings thrive from and need.

Here’s a couple of stats which prove how powerful brand experiences can be:

  • 74 per cent of consumers say that engaging with branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the promoted products
  • 98 per cent of consumers create digital or social content at experiences and events
  • 91 per cent of consumers have more positive feelings about brands after joining events and experiences

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

It’s sad that it takes the removal of something in order for us to truly appreciate the power and value of it. But we need to focus on the ‘silver-linings’ and perhaps that’s the positive to have come out of the global pandemic? The overwhelming appreciation for getting together and connecting with others face-to-face. This is when the magic happens. This is when emotions are experienced and memories are created.

For many years now we’ve been talking about how people are increasingly becoming disconnected from one another and experiencing loneliness due to the rise in physical separation as a result of the world increasingly communicating via social media/digital channels rather than in IRL (in real life). And the irony is, in this year of the pandemic, digital technology has provided such an invaluable means for keeping people virtually connected whilst socially distanced from each other. It’s also significantly highlighted the human need and desire for coming together in person. One of our clients Bumble recently posted on this very matter encouraging people to ‘stop scrolling’ and take a moment for themselves away from social media.

So, why is this? What is it about being together in the real world that drives this value?

Humans are 3D people in physical bodies designed to navigate 3D environments and experiences. To understand more on this subject, we need to explore what we’ve learned from an evolutionary perspective. We need to think back to our ancestors – who lived in tribes and communities – and how we have evolved and survived as a species finding our way to the top of the food chain.

The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts

We’re not the biggest animal or the quickest or the one with the sharpest teeth. But what we humans do excel at is joining together as a tribe and working as a team to fight off predators. This was imperative for our survival. Therefore connecting as a tribe and community is innate in our DNA and integral to our existence.

But the increasing disconnection in modern society which has conditioned us to focus on individualism over collectivism, and now a global pandemic, is threatening that very core need. Society has brought us up to think that success relies on us to work hard and succeed as individuals, but we weren’t designed to do anything alone, we are designed to do things together as our ancestors once did. As humans. we are truly interdependent.

So, a significant measure of the value of brand experiences is the social value they bring that drives collaboration and community, which is at the heart of being human. And perhaps the only measure of this social value is to understand the cost of not having it – in terms of a social recession – measured through increased loneliness, anxiety and depression.

The third and final side to the story is one that has ripple effects and it’s the value of giving service to others

There are more than 3 three million people that work in the events industry, a service industry at its heart. And service to others is thought to be a powerful antidote to loneliness and disconnection. All of the people that serve the events industry and others through the experiences they are creating are giving to others and at the same time, they are giving to themselves.

Like kindness, service to others is contagious. When we are kind to someone, it releases oxytocin (and other hormones) in our brains which makes us feel good. It also releases in those that we are being kind to. And the ripple effect goes on. All those that serve others in the events industry are spreading joy, connection and oxytocin that not only makes themselves feel good but others too.

So, coming back full circle, the ripple effects of the social value of brand experiences are boundless. And as soon as we can do so again safely and securely in the 3D world, we will be back spreading a wholly good contagion through a social revival. And in the meantime, let’s continue to make the most of a good alternative solution – that of adapting and considering a more hyper-local approach, when tier restrictions allow, and for digital technology – for keeping us virtually connected when us humans need it most!

Statistics source – Finances online, https://financesonline.com/experiential-marketing-statistics

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Luci Beaufort-Dysart

Luci Beaufort-Dysart is the director at the boutique live events and experiential agency, Hyphen. She has more than 20 years’ experience in connecting brands and to their audience, to create a memorable moment in time. From conferences – through to consumer activation, working across the B2B, B2C and B2E space for brands including Bumble, Madame Tussauds, Vodafone and Samsung.

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