In recent years, we have experienced an unstoppable wave of change, and it’s exciting to see how well-tested brand experience formats are being hybridised and digitised.
This constant reinvention is one of the key reasons why agencies must strengthen their position as trusted advisors to their clients, building collaborations that can truly deliver on innovation.
While advertising and PR are dominated by long-term retainer contracts, brand experience is known to be more of a case-by-case affair. So, how can we make a real impact in elevating brands in the long term? Let’s have a look at one of our key competence areas: space design and the delivery of immersive environments that connect brands with their audiences.
There are three key types of branded environments in which we specialise: pop-ups, tradeshows, and in-house exhibitions. Each of them has its own advantages and challenges, and it is paramount for brands to have these clear prior to releasing a brief to their agencies.
This is an increasingly popular format as it allows brands to get into direct contact with their target audiences. It can be a great platform to enhance visibility and brand awareness but also presents a certain complexity.
You are “out there” and on the move. You appear in key urban areas, generating great opportunities for content creation.
By choosing the right spot where your target consumers are, you can reach them directly and deliver your message effectively.
While this depends on the location of the pop-up, being set up as an independent event means that your target audience needs to be brought in and “put on task”. A certain effort is required to ensure visitors do enter the pop-up and have deep interaction with the brand.
Local regulation and permits
Each city and venue have different requirements. Therefore, the execution team must deal with a large amount of paperwork and approval processes.
Pop-up kits need to be smartly designed and modularly built so that they can easily be set up and disassembled within a limited time. Factors such as weather and potential overlapping with other events must be taken into account, and storage and transportation have to be well planned in advance.
High-foot traffic and a well-structured execution environment make this a classic brand experience format. However, there are a few considerations in terms of flexibility and space for innovation.
The brand is in a clearly defined environment where it places itself in competition with others in its sector. This allows the brand to assert itself and show off its unique advantages, which is particularly important in the B2C environment.
Mindspace and networking
Visitors are fully engaged as participation requires planning and ticket purchasing. In the B2B context, tradeshows also offer a large platform for networking.
Tradeshows are large events that tend to gain strong media attention and provide opportunities to tap into the current hot topics.
Dates are fixed, rules and regulations are clear, and budgets are easier to plan.
The format is determined by the tradeshow organiser, and freedom in space design is limited by strict regulations.
The ability to carve a space out for the brand is relative to the level of influence of the exhibitor. Niche brands without the backing of a large corporation may find it difficult to secure a good location and the right number of square meters within the fair.
Tradeshows are a traditional format, and while pushing the boundaries is key, brands may find limitations in their scope of action.
Designing and setting up an exhibition space at the brand’s headquarters or in a permanent showroom environment can be a great solution for strengthening sales, especially in the B2B sector. This offers an immersive brand environment while cutting down location costs, although it may require a certain effort to drive traffic.
Closed-circle sales environment
The in-house exhibition brings interested buyers to an immersive sales environment where they can receive the brand’s full attention and signature service.
Full visitor attention
This can be an asset, especially for niche brands who would be struggling to secure the right spot at a large tradeshow. Visitors can focus on the brand and its products outside of the noise of a busy environment.
Reduced location costs
By using the brand’s owned space, this solution allows for the reduction of some of the heavier location costs so that part of them can be relocated to drive visitor traffic.
This format requires considerable effort in attracting visitors. Therefore, a strong customer database and sales team are required to ensure success.
To ensure attendance of customers coming from outside the city, it may be useful to plan in connection with a large event happening nearby. This may require a certain communication and coordination effort tailored to each visitor.
With all this in mind, below are some key tips for brands to unlock the power of branded environments:
Extensively map out your priorities.
This sounds easy but can be hardly overemphasised. The key consideration would be how to match your target group to your key message or product in the most cost-efficient way, and at the right timing.
There’s no one-fits-all solution.
Choosing on format invariably requires a great deal of discussion across your organisation. Pop-ups are currently a hot format, but we find that brands sometimes underestimate the costs and effort required to fully deliver on the project objectives. Tradeshows are now perceived as an overtly traditional format, but can you really afford to skip a large fair when all your key competitors are there? In-house exhibitions have virtually zero venue costs, but efforts to drive traffic and deliver on sales need to be properly considered. Do make sure to involve us in these conversations.
A format is just that: a format.
Innovation and reinventing each format are key to delivering above expectations. This is why we place a lot of effort into exploring the potential of hybridization and take a campaign approach whenever possible. We believe that storytelling is at the essence of brand experience, and the interaction of content to space needs to deliver immersively. Leveraging the right channels and extending the experience beyond location and the scheduled event days are also key factors to be taken into account.
Tap into your physical environment and into the wider social discourse.
We’ve seen that in recent years tradeshows tend to spill into their host cities and engage with the wider public. Don’t miss out on opportunities to place your brand in the right spot by choosing well on your format. Beyond this, ensure you engage your audience in the social discourse around the fair. Whether this is mobility, sustainability, or the role of tech in our lives, propose a fresh, thought-provoking point of view, but steer away from controversy.
Ultimately, involve your agency early in the planning stage.
We’re riding an unstoppable wave of change, and the best thinking emerges from conversations bringing together the right mix of talent with a variety of specialised knowledge. Whenever you can, involve us early on so that we can ensure the right strategy is set up to deliver the right experience to its full potential.
Should you like to continue this conversation, please contact our editorial team.