Next Practices: Designing The Future Of Brand Experience

You’ve heard the phrase, “past performance is no indicator of future results.” In a time when change is accelerating, never has this been truer. Today’s brands must consciously push the envelope, even break things, to excel. It’s time to move beyond the safety of best practices to explore the endless potential of Next Practices.

Marketing has undergone a transformative shift, from a focus on product-oriented storytelling to an emphasis on holistic customer experiences. The reasons for this are many, most of which stem from the rise of the Internet: fragmentation of communications channels, increasing transparency and the empowerment of everyday consumers. A superior brand experience is the only way to succeed in this new world. Here are several ways that investment in one has a direct impact on the bottom line.

  • Loyalty & Repeat Purchase: A happier customer is less likely to go elsewhere. She is also more apt to spend extra, on incremental products and services in existing and adjacent categories.
  • Organic Referrals & New Customers: A positive experience can inspire recommendations to friends, family, and coworkers, resulting in new customers. That’s free advertising!
  • Recognized & Trusted Brand: More reliable service leads to trust, which has significant long term benefits, one being that people are 5x more likely to forgive mistakes. Suddenly, PR blunders are less costly.

At the end of the day, it’s just plain common sense, the more enjoyable my experience, the more likely I’ll stick around. The big challenge, however, is that in a connected era, there are more, ever-changing ways to bring a brand experience to life. And with that, customers’ expectations are continually growing and evolving. Designing a superior experience isn’t a one-time thing, it’s a continuous process that requires constant attention and investment.

Staying on par is one thing, but getting ahead means going beyond best practices to over-deliver on expectations. It requires what I call Next Practices. Put simply, Next Practices are future best practices, and the discovery of them is what puts a brand out front, in a leadership position. The only way to do this is to venture out into the unknown and to experiment with new possibilities. Doing this could mean exploring a new cultural trend or changing demographic. It could also mean a deep-dive into fringe technology that is projected to reach mainstream in five years. The learnings from these efforts are what result in a true competitive advantage.

So, how to get started? The first step towards identifying Next Practices is allocating time and resources, finding the right balance between existing efforts and new ones. This mix can differ depending on your company’s situation and appetite for risk, but a good starting point is the 70/20/10 split. With this, 70% of your budget continues supporting day-to-day, proven practices. 20% helps apply emerging best practices. And finally, 10% of the total resources fund the pioneering of Next Practices. This approach helps manage risk while introducing the possibility to discover something new. This something new can further your brand experience and fulfill your company’s larger potential.

With this mindset, you’re now ready to start the ongoing process of designing a future-oriented and customer-first brand experience. To learn about the specific steps forward, read Part 3 of this Feature Series, “Strategic Process: The Method Behind The Magic.”

Research cited from Forrester and Tempkin Group.