Holistic Brand Experiences: It’s All in the Details

Recently I went to a new exercise studio and a small detail caught my eye amidst the surrounding minimalist, Scandanavian-inspired interior: a bottle of EO Products lavender hand sanitizer quietly sitting on the counter next to the door. In an age where it’s relatively normal to see quart-sized pump bottles of hand sanitizer in public spaces, this one caught my eye and spoke volumes to me about the intentionally designed brand experience I was having.

To some, the significance of this detail may sound exaggerated, but I’d like to suggest that it’s actually one of the most significant details in this studio’s holistic brand experience.

Are your details functional or brand-centric?

Hand sanitizer. We see it everywhere and quite often it’s either housed in bulky, plastic, wall-mounted dispensers or in big, clear bottles with primary-colored logos accompanied by a giant “99.9%” statistic to communicate its effectiveness. We pump it onto our hands, it smells like alcohol for a few seconds, and then we continue on with our task. It’s utilitarian in nature and it gets the job done.

The hand sanitizer I referenced above takes a different approach: it’s in a soft-white translucent bottle wrapped in a well-designed confident yet quiet lavender-colored label. The product itself feels great on your hands and it graces you with several minutes of a calming lavender scent from essential oils. Upon using it you think to yourself, “Wow, this is really nice!” and you walk on your way, a little bit more joyful than before. Both products get the job done, but the latter product includes an emotional and memorable experience.

Why does this all matter? Because when you’re constructing a holistic brand experience, every detail your customer encounters communicates something to them. The details will either align with, enhance, and solidify your brand, or contradict, degrade, and confuse your brand.

In the case of the exercise studio, they’ve created a brand around intentionality, personal strength and refreshment, the inherent value of human beings, and the importance of community. Everything they do and the environment they create revolves around and must live up to these values. The studios are bright, natural, calming, and conducive to serendipitous conversations. The amenities anticipate every need you’ll have from the moment you enter, work out, freshen up, and leave. The products are of brands and appearance that align with the elevated and calming atmosphere. The teachers, owners, and staff are attentive, patient, and encouraging.

Not one detail is left to chance. Everything contributes to and enhances the bigger brand mission, including the lavender hand sanitizer that presents itself right when you need it; the final detail you experience upon your exit so that when you leave, you’re already looking forward to your next return.

What is the state of your holistic brand experience?

To help gauge the state of your holistic brand experience, here’s a list of areas where your customers (and your employees!) may encounter the details of your brand. While by no means exhaustive, this list should provide a solid starting point of assessment. Note: Before you take on this analysis, it’s important that you’ve got a solid brand identity and reason for existing established, otherwise you’ll be taking on these details without a map to guide you.

Physical spaces

Within your brand’s physical spaces, ask yourself what emotions the following details evoke. Statements of the ideal scenarios for each detail are provided.

Building and furniture materials: the structure and its objects are the living and breathing form of the brand.

Layout: the floor plan, use of space, and arrangement of objects create a feeling and flow conducive to activities that support the brand.

Colors and textures: the visual elements stir up emotions reflective of the brand.

Lighting: the tone and brightness contribute to an environment consistent with the brand.

Smells: the emotions stimulated in the olfactory system make sense with the brand.

Amenities: the spaces provided perfectly anticipate the needs of people and activities within the brand experience.

Furniture arrangements: the placement of furniture stimulates communal or individual experiences reflective of the brand.

Tactile encounters: the physical objects within the environment stir up emotions consistent with the brand.

Product choices: the products within the space are of brands and appearances that align with the brand’s mission and purpose.

VECTORS is Ciena’s annual premier technology showcase held in Ottawa.

The event runs for an entire month and gives clients and partners a behind-the-scenes look at emerging technology that is light years beyond the competition.

Fifteen4 developed comprehensive event branding and environmental design that included signage, wayfinding systems, panoramic wall graphics, infographics, and even elevator wraps.

Digital spaces

Within your brand’s digital spaces (your website, social media, and digital communications), ask yourself what emotions the following details evoke. Statements of the ideal scenarios for each detail are provided.

Information architecture: the organization of the site anticipates what users want to see, communicating that the brand understands themselves and the role they play in their customers’ lives.

Anticipated user journeys: the desired paths of several types of users are easily entered and embarked upon, communicating that the brand already knows what they want.

Tone of voice: the way words are written accurately reflects the personality of the brand.

Color palette: the visual elements stir up emotions consistent with the brand.

Typography: the style and feeling evoked by the typography reflect the personality of the brand.

Motion: the movement of elements on the screen contribute to a feeling consistent with the brand.

Imagery: the subjects, lighting, coloring, and composition of your photography, illustrations, or artwork are consistent with the brand.

Automated communications: the timing, frequency, and purpose of your automated touchpoints make sense with the personality of the brand.

Dispatch.me shows off great examples of how motion, tone of voice, and user journeys all support the digital component of a holistic brand experience.

People and culture

Within your brand’s people and culture experiences (over the phone, via digital communication, or in-person), ask yourself what emotions the following details evoke. Statements of the ideal scenarios for each detail are provided.

Body language: stance, gestures, and movement communicate traits are consistent with the brand.

Word choice: words and phrases are consistent with the voice of the brand.

Tone of voice: the way words are spoken accurately reflects the tone of the brand.

Frame of mind: the perspective through which people are operating is consistent with the mission of the brand.

A commemorative video of Hilton’s 100th anniversary captures the adventure, hospitality, and innovation for which their brand is known, especially through the experiences created by Hilton’s people and culture.

So, are you creating a holistic brand experience?

There’s a lot on that list to think about, so don’t go at it alone. Do what you do best and partner with a team like us that is obsessed with creating holistic brand experiences. And remember, placing importance on the details is worth it (and it doesn’t have to be difficult): when you place importance on the details, you’re not only showing that you’re committed to your brand, but you’ve also got a really high chance of creating one special thing that people hold on to and remember. DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies anyone?

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