According to recent research by Gartner, 89% of leading companies now believe that their competitive advantage will be based on how well they deliver customer experience in 2017 and beyond. In plainer speak, they believe the world is now awash with great quality, well branded products and it’s not enough to tell people how great you are or to look good on the shelf. Now, we literally have to reach out and touch our customers with stand-out experiences at all points of the customer journey.
So how can we take this information and make it work for your independent drinks brand? Here are my top recommendations for designing brand experiences that will grab your customer’s attention and keep you in mind for the longer term.
Product design as experience
Consider how your packaging will impact your customer on a more emotional level? Are you making it easy for your customer to immediately get what your product is all about? Do you want your customer to smile, nod reassuringly or gasp with pleasure when they pick up your bottle or can? How could you adapt your design and packaging copy to create a more visceral or memorable experience for the customer?
Beavertown's graphic-novel-style can designs are a great example of product as experience. Their visuals do an excellent job of immediately drawing the attention of beer-drinking, pop-culture fans.
Enhancing your serve
What could you do to improve the experience of actually drinking your product? Consider glassware options including glass size, shape and design. If you want to attract more female drinkers, perhaps you want to consider smaller, stemmed glasses that add refinement to the act of drinking a beer or cider. Tulip and bowl glasses also add to experiencing the aroma. Or if you want to be on trend, you could look at big handled, glass tankards, which are currently proving very popular with younger drinkers. Could your drink be mixed to create a cocktail or hot toddy? Could your drink act as a chaser or compliment to another drink or a dish on the menu? What would you recommend as a mixer or garnish? How can you help your on-trade customer to market your serve on the bar? Blackboard POS signs or back of bar displays?
When I recently visited The Bohemia in London's West Finchley, a worthy winner of a CAMRA pub regional award, their manager Ash explained how they provided large tankard glasses for every member of their in-house beer club. Each numbered glass hangs from its own hook beside the bar and is reserved for their use alone. An excellent example of giving the customer a special experience whilst enjoying their pint.
Standing out on the bar
With the increasing range of drinks available on tap, it’s more important than ever to consider how you make your tap handle or bottle stand out. A few carefully chosen words added to your more generic drink description could make the difference between a casual glance and a purchase. I’m a big fan of adding short tasting notes to the design (particualarly for 'craft' pours), as it gives the customer some added information that could influence a purchase, especially when a brand is not familiar. When it comes to your bottle design, is it easy to read or does it stand out even from a distance? Silver print, for example, could make a bottle’s text hard to read when the light hits it in the wrong way. Always try to imagine what a new customer might be drawn to when designing for the on-trade. A relatively simple change could make all the difference in creating a more dynamic connection with the customer.
Share the experience online
Don’t just share photos of your drinks bottles on social media and the web. Think about using images that portray experiences or feelings that you want to associate with your brand. For example, lifestyle associations (e.g. fashion, sports, decor, design styles or destination preferences) should be part of your visual marketing toolkit, helping your brand to tap into your customer's world view.
Be part of a bigger experience
Last but not least, think about how your drinks brand can integrate into live events that will appeal to your customers. Serving your products at music or sports events helps connect you into bigger experiences that tend to have a longer, memory hold. Become part of a 'brand eco-system' where similar brands strengthen and enhance each other by hanging out in the same places.
For more ideas about how your brand can improve its customer experience, why not get in touch with our Customer Experience expert Susanne Currid for a no-obligation chat about devising, setting up and measuring the effectiveness of these marketing approaches.