Use Experiential Marketing to Tell Your Brand Story

Posted by Chris Kapsalis / October 23

Experiential marketing is the best way to tell your brand’s story. More than any other part of the marketing mix, it can provide both the depth & breadth of understanding and a rich & personalized experience that truly connects brands with their consumers. 

However, when brand story telling through experiential marketing, there are some important guidelines to follow to keep your story on-brand. 

  1. Resist the urge to dazzle for its own sake.
The brand, not the experience, comes first. There’s enormous pressure in experiential marketing to create a big splash. Because events tend to happen once or on a very limited time-scale, the impact has to be huge and the potential for embarrassment – or apathy – is enormous. This often leads to installations that might draw viewers for a moment but create little lasting impact for the brand. Mediocre experiential draws attention on a busy city street. Great experiential communicates and enriches the brand’s story using something palpable and real. 

A great example: 
To promote “Game of Thrones,” Blinkbox made a giant dragon skull that was placed without explanation on Dorset Beach, known as “Jurassic Coast” for its rich fossil beds. Fossil hunters made the greatest find of their lives while Blinkbox reaped earned media from Buzzfeed, Mashable, HuffPo and many other outlets.
  2. Keep the brand’s story arc in mind. 
Again, the brand comes first. Does this event or experience continue or extend the brand’s story? Or is it more like a sidebar? Or worst of all, is it something totally off-topic? 

A great example: 
Red Bull’s Flugtag aerial competition and subsequent Stratos space jump. Started in 1991, the Flugtag invites participants to launch themselves over water using their own human-powered flying contraptions. It’s representation of the high-energy Red Bull spirit was unmatched in experiential...until the Stratos space jump. The jump took the boundary-crossing brand’s ongoing narrative to the next level, literally reigniting consumers’ passion for space and adventure in the process. 
  3. Serve the brand’s audience.
Answer these questions: 
Why would the brand’s adherents care about this experience? 
Why would anyone care about this experience?  
Pay attention to the word “care.” It connotes emotional investment and meaningful connection. Start with the elements that are important to your brand’s audience and build up from there. Is it utility and usefulness? Pleasure? Excitement? The novelty of technology? Bake those elements into the experience so it seems natural to the brand and a good fit for its audience. The Stratos jump worked for Red Bull because it’s a heroic energy drink.

A great example:
Coke extended its “Happiness” campaign using warming bus shelters in places with cold climates like Sweden. Simple and direct, with the added bonus that Coke was solving a real need, creating actual happiness.