Why do brands have to work harder to engage with the customer?

If you asked your grandmother what advertising is, the first thing she might think of is a television advert or a poster on the street. Although that’s often the basis for a campaign, brands now have to give more of themselves on many more platforms.

The way brands advertise has changed considerably, for the better. Brand effectiveness results in connecting emotionally with the customer via stimulating storytelling, which ultimately gains loyalty and trust. This is harder to achieve with just a billboard and a 30-second ad; it simply isn’t engaging enough. So how do you resonate in this digital age?

The different methods brands now use to reach out to and connect with their customers has become much more engaging in recent years. It’s interesting to see successful and well-established brands such as Burberry, Levi’s and Vans (to name a few) who are developing experiential and immersive ideas that work in harmony with their proposition and brand values.

One of the market leaders is, of course, Nike. Here we have a company that has a culture etched so deeply into their brand DNA that their customers all over the world are loyal for life. Just one of the many customer experiences Nike have produced over the years is a very successful concept and app called Nike Training Club (or NTC), encouraging customers to be active and get involved in the Nike culture. In 2014, one interesting twist was if you ‘liked’ NTC on Facebook, you could book yourself into a range of free (yes, free) classes all over London, including sprint classes, exercise classes, running club and yoga, which took place within their stores. Hugely successful, it’s actually a very simple way to immerse the customer in the brand both online and offline, improve customer retention while staying true to Nike’s core values and ultimately generating revenue.

House of Vans skateboarding neon signage

Another successful brand engaging with its customers offline as well as online are Vans, who launched ‘House of Vans’ a few years back in the Waterloo tunnels near Southbank. It is the physical manifestation of the culture that has defined Vans from day one. This is a space that allows people to connect with the ‘Off The Wall’ spirit of the brand, and engage with art, music and skateboarding throughout the summer months. Situated in an area that resonates so deeply with skateboarding, House Of Vans is inspiring for all types of people, and was even a significant part of the campaign against the council wishes to knock down the Southbank undercroft for redevelopment purposes. London doesn’t need another retail space, but it does need cultural hubs for a wide range of people.

So, why do brands have to work harder? It’s to keep the trust and loyalty of their customer surely, but also to enrich their lives on multiple platforms and drive engagement. Nowadays, more brands are turning to experiential marketing for a number of reasons, including customer awareness and media coverage, customer acquisition and retention, and to have something that helps them place themselves above the rest.

If you create a culture, people will want to be part of it. Ultimately, that’s how we see a successful brand working.

Want to find out more about BEAR’s services, including brand identity, strategy, UX, tone of voice and much more? Please contact the team at info@bearlondon.com.