advertisement
advertisement
The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

How to wrap an audience in your brand experience

One way is to take advantage of every opportunity to tell your brand story. Surround people with it, tease them, delight them—encourage them to follow you across channels.

How to wrap an audience in your brand experience
[Monster Ztudio / Adobe Stock]

How in tune are you with the world around you? Founders, business professionals, marketing and media executives like myself—we view the world through different lenses, particularly when it comes to brand positioning. That experience may help us maintain objectivity and separation from the millions of messages that continually bombard us. But are we doing enough to create positive experiences that do just the opposite for our own audiences?

advertisement
advertisement

A recent Westwood One report suggests marketers may be out of touch with the everyday experience of average Americans. For example, marketers assume the percentage of commuters is far less than it is and the percentage of at-home workers is far more than it is. Other executives may share this bias. Unfortunately, that disconnect may mean missing out on opportunities to engage with consumers in out-of-home environments.

In my experience, connecting all the dots leads to the kind of holistic experience that consistently reaches consumers in the right place at the right time. And it starts with looking more closely at the entire landscape of people’s daily lives.

EVERYDAY AUDIENCE IMPRESSIONS: A DAY IN THE LIFE

advertisement

5:30 a.m. I start my day reading through my email. Then I check a variety of news sources to see what’s happening in the world.

6:30 a.m. I drive to the gym for a class. I’m usually listening to Spotify or a podcast, but notice local billboards and signage along the way and displays in the gym.

8 a.m. I walk to the train station while listening to a podcast or taking phone calls. At the station, I see advertising on the platform. I take the PATH to Manhattan with a mix of video and traditional signage, then walk to the office.

advertisement

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sometimes I’m in my office space all day. Other times I have outside meetings where I walk, take the subway, a taxi, or an Uber. I check my social media. Outside I’m surrounded by signs and billboards. I see signs in the subway or hear radio ads during a ride.

6 p.m. At the end of the day, I might have a business dinner or go out for drinks. There are more signs and/or videos around me. When I’m done, I take the train or an Uber home.

I can’t say that my day is average or that New York represents a typical sensory experience. Even so, the question may no longer be if the marketing Rule of Seven (the number of impressions it takes for a consumer to absorb your message) still applies, but how do you break through when people have so many potential disparate encounters?

advertisement

OUT-OF-HOME ADVERTISING MIRRORS THE MOMENT

One way is to take advantage of every opportunity to tell your brand story. Surround people with it, tease them, delight them—encourage them to follow you across channels. Recognize that those things we see in our environment and appreciate in the moment are just as important as the digital messages that are pushed out hoping to gain ground.

The billboards, displays in the gym, restaurant, or bar, and the transit station and transportation signs all represent out-of-home advertising. They’re so much a familiar piece of the fabric of our world that people may not stop to think of them as such. Yet they’re part of an industry that is not only growing, but growing at a substantial rate.

advertisement

Before 2020, OOH benefitted from general economic growth and its own digital transformation. As marketers faced the prospect of losing the targeting cookies they’d come to rely on, and companies grew more concerned about the brand safety issues that came with the endless landscape of online advertising, OOH consistently offered a data-based, contextual, secure option.

Despite a dip during the height of the pandemic, OOH has been on the rise again, offering an alternative as people began experiencing digital fatigue and cabin fever. Now, as consumers continue to emerge more fully from their COVID cocoons, that growth continues as OOH offers a way to deliver messages with a global, national, regional, or hyper-local focus.

Yet for many marketers, this familiar piece of our everyday fabric remains outside their marketing strategies. Even as the rise of streaming sparks a decline in TV advertising, marketers shift budgets within the usual digital channels. OOH is over 100 years old and still continues to reflect the spirit of the times because, at its core, it offers a means of tried-and-true engagement: knowing what consumers want and where they want to hear about it.

advertisement

THE BEST BRAND EXPERIENCES: INSPIRING, AUTHENTIC, AND OMNICHANNEL

For me, the ideal brand experience speaks to my interests in a way that is relatable and inspiring. I want my experience with a brand to feel authentic, and I’m in line with 90% of today’s consumers in that regard. We’re in a place now where we’re looking for things that make us feel good, and that’s not just about fashion, food, or fun—it’s about who we are as people.

The right combination of timing, message, and location has an incredible impact. It brings to mind a Nike campaign: a combination of social media and massive billboards with the message “Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.” It was something real and relatable and appeared in early January 2008 to mirror those yearly resolutions we often make.

advertisement

It can be that simple, or it can be something as jaw-dropping as Nike’s 3D Air Max billboard in Japan. These kinds of innovations make the messages experiences in themselves. In fact, we’re seeing more and more brands ground their campaigns in OOH and then leverage that attention into conversations that spark over social and other channels.

No matter where the customer’s journey starts, however, your brand needs to be expansively strategic. How can your creativity have the broadest reach? How can your message have the deepest impact? When you incorporate all available options, you can find that the brand experience you create is relevant, meaningful, and memorable.


Anna Bager is President & CEO of OAAA, the national trade association that represents the out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry.

advertisement
advertisement