The other day, after a long week, I decided that I deserved to get out of the house and do something small to treat myself. So I loaded my toddler into the car and we drove to Target where I could pick up some Starbucks and cross some to-dos off of my list by getting groceries at the same time. This is not a unique story, in fact, the whole experience is so common that the only thing that would make it more cliché is if I had also been wearing yoga pants and had picked up a pumpkin spice latte (I didn’t, went for the mint mocha frappucino instead).
But here’s the thing: going to Target makes me happy, even if I’m just buying diapers. Multiple conversations with other mothers (and non-mothers) tells me that I’m not the only one that considers a trip to Target a minor luxury. The thing I want to discuss today is that this is not an accident. Target has very intentionally created a brand experience that makes mothers feel good about themselves even when they’re just buying diapers.
If you want to have a powerful brand that makes people feel good about spending money with you, then you need to craft an irresistible brand experience for your customers.
Target’s decision to put Starbucks in most of their stores not only brings along the goodwill that Starbucks has built into their own brand, it also fills the store with the scent of coffee when you walk in the door. They sell popcorn in every location for the same reason, to create a pleasant smell that wafts throughout the store.
Contrast with the experience you get at Walmart. After living in another country for several months, I will never forget the overwhelming smell of plastic that hit me when I landed back on American soil and stepped into my first Walmart. Pleasant is definitely not the word I would use to describe it.
So how can you begin to create this kind of goodwill for your own business? Consider every part of your process, from initial contact to final delivery. What could you make easier or more simple? What little touches could you add to make your customer feel really special?
Imagine that your next client is a $25,000 dollar client. How would you change your process?How would you dress when you met her? How would you shake her hand? Where would you meet? What would your email signature look like? What would your website look like? How would you welcome them when you “closed the deal?” How would you deliver the final product? I know that I’m not quite ready to implement all the changes that would happen if I was rolling in $25,000 dollar clients, but it made it so much easier to see the improvements I would make right away and the improvements I would want to make later. The goal doesn’t have to be a $25,000 dollar client, but picture your absolute-totally-feels-way-out-of-my-league customer. Then work backwards to think about what it would take to attract such a person.
Target uses Starbucks and freshly popped popcorn to make their stores feel homey and inviting. How can you utilize the five senses in your own business experience? Perhaps you can surprise a new client with a custom playlist, or send them a sweet treat to celebrate your project together. Maybe you snap a few polaroids during your photo session, or after their new haircut, so they have something they can hold in their hands to remember the experience. Utilizing the five senses is a great way to brainstorm ways you can amp up brand experience.
If you really want to make your clients feel well taken care of, identify what may usually be a pain point during the process of hiring your or working with you, and find a way to make it a delightful experience instead. For example, spending your money on an expensive course can be nerve wracking, so the creators of one course I invested in had a fun gif featuring them dancing and celebrating on the page immediately after completing my purchase. This immediately made the investment feel like something to celebrate, rather than to feel nervous about.
Another example: waiting in lines at amusement parks. The designers at Disney and Universal Studios have turned the spaces where you wait in line for a ride into whole attractions themselves. The Harry Potter rides at Universal made me super sick, but I happily waited in line again with friends just to enjoy all the fun things leading up to the ride.
How can you take the least fun parts of working with you and turn it into something your clients will love to talk about instead?
Here are a few other examples of companies that have created happy experiences for their clients:
• Anthropologie packages every purchase using gift bags and tissue paper so that you feel like you’ve just bought yourself a present instead of simply spending your money.
• A few months ago I bought a mattress from Tuft & Needle (a company that rocks the brand experience on many different levels) and they mailed the mattress straight to my house in a beautifully designed box. No hauling a mattress around, I just opened the box and let it spread out. They found a pain point and removed it for their customers.
• Mailchimp has a gorilla that gives me a high-five every time I send out one of these letters. It feels so satisfying and puts a smile on my face.
Never stop dreaming of new ways to knock your customer’s socks off. Study those dreamies and learn what they really desire. Pay attention to the way other businesses make you feel good. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
brand epiphany is a brand strategy and design studio • powered by sunshine and ♥ since 2015