Defining a "Good Brand Experience"

Designing the logo for a brand is one thing, but crafting an entire brand experience is entirely another. What is it that defines a good experience and how can strategically shaping experience move customers from merely using your brand to falling in love with it? 

Lately I've been thinking a lot of what it means to have a good "brand experience". Why is it that some brands leave you walking away feeling refreshed and rejuvenated while others cause irritation or stress? It would be ideal for ALL brands to achieve an Apple Store sort of user delight but so many fall short, and that goes for both online and offline. 

After some thought I've concluded that good brand experience occurs when I able to find exactly what I am looking for without much confusion, waiting in line, or digging through pages and pages of links. A good experience is when I don't even notice the brand rather it getting in my way it simply adds value to what I am seeking. It's almost defined by what it is NOT rather than what it is.

Google is a great example of this. When I need to find something online I simply go to where Google provides a clean, distraction free interface. I type in what I'm searching for, find exactly what I seek and move on.  Bing on the other hand is bold, distracting, and tries to pull me away from what I seek. 

The same goes for retail stores, restaurants, or any online website. The brand should elevate the customers desires, not distract from what they want. 

A good experience leaves you walking away not even realizing that you had "an experience". A bad experience leaves you grumbling about about how things weren't the way they should have been.

As we move further into the future brands need to become better and better at creating good experience for it's customers in both the physical world as well as the digital one. Brands are going to need to figure out ways to seamlessly integrate technology with it's customers lives. Double tapping an Instagram photo and liking a shirt on a shelf in the retail store are two completely different interactions but is there a way that each of these can become related and be used to create a delightful experience for users to find exactly what they seek?

Is it that hard to imagine a time when you step into a retail store and their system already knows which clothing items you've viewed online, which of their photos you liked and even what sort of styles you happen to be in to as this time? A store like this could then present you with exactly the items you like before you even go searching through the racks to find it. 

Now THAT would be a good brand experience.

Check out Rebecca Minkoff's new brick-and-mortar store than perfectly integrates a digital experience. Her store is truly revolutionary is opens up the potential for retail shopping everywhere. (Perhaps if the desire strikes to go drop a couple hundos on a shiny pink purse you could swing by and give it a try firsthand.) 

I expect to see more technology integrated into the retail shopping experience as we go further into the future. As designers and creatives we have a really unique role to play where we can define entire experiences for users and emotion to a brand. Stop looking at branding as a choice of colors and a swirly logo but instead as a whole experience that helps users easily find what they seek.