Strong connections with a brand are often the result of memorable moments. Good or bad, it is often in these surprisingly small gestures that a brand develops meaning for us.
A great logo, website, or fancy business cards can help reinforce these associations, but they generally cannot create them. Every day we have thousands of brand messages thrown at us. Most go by unnoticed—the visual equivalent of white noise. So when a moment has an impact, surprises, delights, or disappoints us, we tend to remember it. It gets our attention.
Brand Moments with Impact
I recently went to Chuck E Cheese with my daughter, a place where ‘a kid can be a kid’ playing arcade games and eating pizza. What has stuck with me was a small gesture that had significant impact on my feelings for the brand. Upon arrival, everyone’s hand is stamped. The stamp is numbered, and you and your child receive the same number using ink that only appears under ultraviolet light. A child cannot leave unless accompanied by an adult with the same number. Brilliant. Their concern for my child’s safety is a shared value between the brand and myself. It instantly created a stronger, more significant connection.
Two weeks ago I heard about Unit Editions for the first time. They publish high-quality books on graphic design not available in stores like Amazon. I immediately wanted to buy a copy of Manuals 1, a study on corporate identity guidelines but priced at £65 and coming from the UK, I was concerned about the shipping costs making it more than I was willing to spend. Within five minutes of asking Unit Editions on Twitter, they clarified that all shipping is free. I ended up ordering three books that day. It’s unlikely I would have spent what I did without the quick and friendly reply on Twitter. Unit Editions removed the hurdle of me having to spend more time and effort, and possibly moving on to something else by maintaining my momentum.
The same weekend I went to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, a self-serve, pay by weight yogurt shop. While it was good, I doubt I will be back. The moment that remains with me is looking at their celebrity wall—snapshots of famous people with Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt containers in hand. I hate celebrating celebrities for mundane things and that little action left me with a bad taste. It was one of many gestures (free samples, very friendly staff), but its imprint has resulted in me not being a fan. A brand cannot speak in a way that connects with everyone—the celebrity wall I hate is a gesture others will love.
Moments for Every Size
Small businesses can also create memorable brand moments. Ottawa photographer Dwayne Brown runs the website loveOttawa where he posts photos of locals sharing their favorite Ottawa gems. Reinforcing this love for the city, Dwayne occasionally creates gestures like sticking free NAC tickets to lampposts for people walking by to discover, and take. It’s surprising, and a gesture that reflects the desire to share his passion.
Bernadette Jiwa of The Story of Telling creates moments by responding to comments on her blog and Twitter in an encouraging and helpful manner. This mirrors what she does, helping people discover and tell their brand story. In doing so, she provides free samples (like Menchie’s) but of her personality. It’s a gesture many brands attempt, but so few can pull it off with a feeling of honesty.
These are just a few examples of how brands can create moments that stand out. They manage to engage with us by cutting through the battery of average, expected, and uninspiring brand efforts we endure. Good or bad, they embrace who they are, and aim to connect with an appreciative audience.