Building an Experience

by Braden Kelley

innovate and build a brandAs people become ever more immune to traditional advertising and marketing, branding will become more important.

Branding is all about building an emotional connection with customers. Making the decision to follow a strategy focused on building a brand is not without peril, however, as it means that you will have to choose to not do certain things, like pursue a low price strategy.

Choosing to build a brand means that you will have to invest more in your stores, your website, and possibly even your traditional marketing and advertising to precisely reinforce your brand values with a level of quality.

increasing profits and innovationBranding only takes you part of the way towards building a lasting emotional connection with customers. The pinnacle of that emotional connection is reached by ensuring that your interactions with customers are characterized more by the overall product, service, and the shopping experience you provide, than by the transaction or request you process.

Having recently moved to Seattle from London, I’ve started to learn more about the local successful business phenomena. This is the land of Microsoft, Expedia, Yahoo, and Boeing. One more local and rapidly growing company, which most of you will have heard of, is a cooperative called REI.

increase cash flow and revenueREI sells camping and outdoor equipment (kayaks, hiking boots and clothing, etc.). REI has created an experience for shoppers that is well above the ordinary, and draws them customers in. They have incorporated a rock climbing wall, a waterfall, a nature trail, a mountain bike test track, and a minature forest into a store experience that looks and feels like a mountain lodge. The sales racks feature wooden endcaps, there is a stone fireplace with rocks around it to sit on, wooden staircases, a wooden ceiling, and a rock path to test out those hiking boots you’re contemplating. I could go on but you probably get the picture.

My current client is right across the street from this amazing place, and I tell you, when I walk through the mini-forest with the waterfall and hike up the stairs to get to the entrance, I feel like I’ve gone to the mountains. This is a place I want to go to, even when I’m not particularly looking for a specific item. And once in, the enticement to buy is strong. This is effective brand building. When I think of REI I feel relaxed and enthused about visiting.

What do you feel like when you go to your average sporting goods store?

Contact me to see how we can work together to find new profits in your business, and stay tuned for the next interesting topic on the Business Strategy Innovation Blog!


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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a Social Business Architect and the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden is also a popular innovation speaker and trainer, and advises companies on embedding innovation across the organization and how to attract and engage customers, partners, and employees.

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