From Personal Experience

The brand-customer relationship no longer purely focuses on the product or service but also on the experience — or perceived experiential element — that the brand or product can give. And I firmly believe that the focus of en masse social events and networking (both real and virtual) will now start to shift back to being about the individual. In response, brands will need to find ways to holistically design new experiences to truly immerse us in the brand and nurture the relationship — on a more meaningful and one-to-one level.

Photo: Innocent «Grow Your Own» packs

Interestingly, Innocent are no longer holding their popular Fruitstock summer festival but they are getting ever more creative with their packaging. Their recent ‘Grow your own’ initiative for kids provides fruit and veg seeds in the kids smoothie packs with directions on the back of the pack for growing the seeds in the drink cartons themselves and cutting out seed markers etc from side of pack. Inclusive, interactive, and collaborative. A simple idea but truly holistic. And have you seen the new Rice Krispies ‘Colour Together’ pack? The characters on front of pack are left white for kids to colour in themselves. The packaging itself becoming a fun activity for kids. A brilliant example of joined up brand thinking and a true one-to-one and creative relationship with the target consumer.

Photo: Rice Krispies ‘Colour Together’ pack

Of course, when it comes the the hotel and hospitality sector — which has always been about the experiential — then you would expect it to be all sewn up. But not necessarily. If anything, it’s harder to keep refining the offer and creating that all-important difference. The boutique hotel sector with the focus on attention to detail and individuality is coining the approach but absolutely each and every detail has to be right. We have recently been working with the Watergate Bay hotel in North Cornwall. The hotel prides itself on being a unique, luxury destination but the hotel’s existing identity was comprised of layers of naming making it confusing. The new identity (to be revealed in the next few weeks) will now connect people directly to the experience of the destination and its elements with a simple, hand drawn logotype. This gives a personal touch to the logo that is core to the brand values: raw, energetic, elemental, imperfect and unique  — and reflective of the North Cornish coastline.

To have any sort of real and personal connection, we need to fully experience brands from the outset and this starts with the identity. And any brand looking to dial up their experiential offer needs to first and foremost think about this starting point. I am not, of course, knocking the many and very talented experiential agencies out there. And recent studies do show that consumers are spending money on experiences rather than products per se. But shock factor initiatives or even festivals may soon become samey. To survive, brands and products need to look for new and more inspiring ways to inject that all important experiential element in everything they say and do. And the frugality of approach by the brands mentioned is a good indicator that simple pleasures and the personal touch (from both brand and consumer) is leading a change.

Experiencing the brand comes down to seduction and this is where all the elements of the brand and packaging design – including the identity, clever structure or a more unusual graphic execution — has the scope to tell, or at least tease out the story of the brand experience by focusing on the texture, look and delivery of what we are buying and using.

By taking a more holistically creative approach we should be able to provide a unique and targeted consumer experience or connection time and time again. And, as we move into the future, we need to use design to find new and creative ways to deliver something disproportionate to the expectation — and this needs to start with the brand in the hand.


About the Author

Darren Foley, Managing Director at Pearlfisher, London, joined the company in 2002 as Realisation Director, inventing the concept of realisation and advocating a design process in which our technical and creative teams work in harmony from the beginning. He has worked in the design industry for close to 25 years, starting out as a junior production artist, and amassing an unparalleled depth of knowledge for the discipline.