Thursday, February 08, 2007

Experience design is not about brand experience

There's a good post (and even better comments) at Adaptive Path focusing on the difference between experience design and brand experience, and why so many people relate the two (when, the author suggests, they don't have anything to do with each other). The main thrust of his argument is basically that the word brand, "will always be about the impression companies want to make, and are by their nature an 'inside-out' proposition — a company figures out its brand and what it means, and does what it can to communicate or otherwise impart that message to people. Brand always starts with the company." On the other hand, "experience... needs to be about the people. What do they want to accomplish, achieve, do? For experience to succeed, it must start with the person, and from there, impress upon the company. 'Experience' is outside-in."

The inside-out versus outside-in concept fits well with my own attempts to figure out why retail marketers do the things that they do. For private label companies, the brand is everything: it's the stores, it's the people, it's the merchandise. But as the Adaptive Path post suggests, focusing on the brand would yield a totally "outside-in" approach, which wouldn't produce a very good experience for the average customer. It might be attractive, visually appealing, and so on, but wouldn't do a very good job of focusing on the customer's needs.

On the other hand, retailers that sell merchandise from multiple brands have a different problem, since they have to balance their own brand with the brands of all of their suppliers. The best retailers recognize the problem and try to adopt the "outside-in" experience approach that the article talks about, realizing that otherwise, they'd just be competing for attention with all of the "inside-out" branded goods.

How these realizations translate into actual design elements and innovations is different for every retailer (or at least that would explain how multiple retailers in the same category can have vastly different but still generate pretty good experiences).

Tags: store experience, experience design, branding, retail media

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