Experiential Branding: An Interview with Rajiv Kapur

For nearly 30 years, DesignShop's very own Rajiv Kapur has been on the leading edge of the development of integrated marketing programs and brand experiences. In addition, he has been instrumental in the blending of traditional media with experiential campaigns using trade shows, special events, mobile marketing, grass root campaigns and branded environments. In short - Rajiv's thought leadership has helped shape the way we approach brand experiences today.

Recently, we decided to pick his brain a bit about the role of experiential marketing and branding. Here were some of his thoughts...

Rajiv, what exactly is experiential branding?

Experiential branding is the complete process, starting from a brand promise and then creating communications through experiences, which engage the five senses. These engagements are used to create an emotional bond with the audience and then delivering on the brand promise in a way that is endearing and helps to cultivate brand loyalty.

It is the promise, the engagement of the audience, the delivery of the experience - that creates recall and loyal fans.

Why are you such a proponent of building “Emotional Attachment”?

I would like for you to finish my statement -  “this is dear to my ……”.
We never say "it is dear to my mind".

Any activity that is tied to an emotional feeling is remembered better and has a higher rate of recall. The mind soon forgets but the heart remembers.

Human beings do things or consume to either gain pleasure or reduce pain, which are tied to feelings and emotions. Our communications and products should be targeted to how our products will make you feel.

Why are trade shows and mobile marketing programs so vital to today's marketing mix?

We live in a global economy and there are multiple suppliers for just about any product you can think of.

This creates clutter and confusion in the buyer's mind and a need for more information in order to make their decision. Unless your products are sheer commodities and price is the only differentiator, buyers need to have an opportunity to compare the tangible and intangible attributes of the product and supplier to create the relationship.

Trade shows are the most efficient way for buyers and sellers to meet and to be able to compare offerings in order to make well informed decisions. The seller can demonstrate and differentiate their products while infusing their own brand culture and personality into the "experience". This allows buyers get a taste, not just for the products, but also for the people they would be interacting with (not just the products).

This is something that can only be communicated in a face-to-face meeting.

What are some of the common mistakes you see companies making with their trade show programs?

Many don't have a real plan for success.

They are simply depending upon the sheer volume of trade show attendees, hoping that they can get exposure to those attendees in a short period of time. They have not set target audiences they want to appeal to and also don't have their trade show program integrated into their marketing and sales process.

Their trade shows are just treated as silo programs with the hope of a quick boost in sales. What needs to happen is their trade show marketing needs to be treated as part of an integrated program, where there is research done regarding which shows they attend. This helps to make sure that their messaging, personnel, demonstrations, specials, and announcements ALL match up with the right audience and their own goals.

Why are branded environments important in present-day business?

Brand culture plays a huge part in a company’s success.

Many companies spend money on identifying their brand, mission statements, vision statements etc. but have a hard time involving their team members and making them "live the brand".

Just having pretty buildings with nice cubicles is not enough anymore. Look at the innovative companies today like Google and EA sports.. These companies immerse their people in their brand culture by creating spaces that are inspiring. They communicate the philosophy of the company to their people and to their customers. They create emotional attachments.

That's the game changer. Creating emotional attachments!

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Like to learn how DesignShop lives our brand? Reach out to us, we can help create a "brand experience" for your products that trade show attendees will talk about!

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