If you think back to the early days of the web, it seemed like everyone had the definitive answer – i.e, the absolute method – to maximize “user” experience. Logo here. Content here. Call-to-action here. Follow the supposedly proven formula and you would have achieved internet nirvana. In retrospect, that sounds an awful lot like the politician who declared, with ultimate authority, that the US Patent office was no longer needed because all of the possible inventions had already been invented. We know now that he was slightly off. User expectations, just like the inventors and inventions of the day, continue to evolve. Faster connections, the ubiquity of mobile devices and myriad other factors have created a fluid, ever-evolving set of criteria that will only become more complex over time.
By Mike Giambatista
All of which begs the question: is it time to adjust our “X” thinking? As User Experience (UX) eventually evolved to the broader discipline of Customer Experience (CX), is it time to expand our view even further to encompass the overall Brand Experience (BX)?
Chris Spears, writing for CMO.com, thinks it might be. As he puts it, “Brand experience tracks and maps both online and offline interactions. It considers a person’s interactions with your brand as well your competitors. And it focuses on a bigger vision of the overall impact your brand has on the people associated with it. In addition, brand experience extends beyond the awareness and acquisition journey to encompass the sales journey, the product/service usage journey (support), and, lastly, the loyalty/advocacy journey.”
We think he might be on to something worth considering. He cites McKinsey back in 2009, “You need to back away from the metaphor of a ‘funnel,’ which fails to capture all the touch points and key buying factors ‘resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer.'”
Is this the same thinking that brought us “omni-channel” marketing? Not exactly, but the two strands are definitely related. Whereas omni-channel tends to focus on funnel-specific qualities, BX, on the other hand, takes an even higher altitude view, which is, as McKinsey suggested, “A more sophisticated approach (designed) to help marketers navigate this environment, which is less linear and more complicated than the funnel suggests.”
Think of a typical funnel analysis that often takes the graphic form of various channels orbiting a mothership versus BX, which looks more like a scattergram. You get the picture. Mapping, understanding, managing and optimizing thousands of touchpoints seems like an impossible task. But I don’t think we really have any other choice. We have, in fact, helped to create this touchpoint complexity. We have helped to foster these rigorous customer expectations. Like it or not, we as marketers, are being forced to reckon with the obligations that we have been pitching for so long.
Mike Giambatista is a contributing editor to Wise Marketer.