Demystifying the Brand Experience + Why it’s Essential, with Jess Madsen

The juiciest tip that brand designers often share is to focus on the brand experience. But whether you heard it on a different podcast or read it on a blog from Pinterest, the actual definition of what a brand experience is seems to always be missing. So does the how-to on building on.

So, my friend, today’s episode is dedicated to those who have ever wondered wtf is a brand experience and why it’s so important. I bring on the expander on brand experiences, Jess Madsen of Wildcraft Studio, to spill the tea on experimenting in your business, embracing your multiple passions, and taking the time to listen to your clients. And of course, we go deep into the process and magic of the brand experience.

This is our longest and perhaps our most inspiring episode yet. Definitely best listened to on a long road trip and with a cuppa in hand. ▸

JESS’S IG: @the.wildcraft – Do yourself a favor and check out her Stories. I think this is the most accessible way to see how Jess utilizes her brand experience and invites her following into her magical, grounded, intentional world.◗

JESS MADSEN

It’s all an experiment. Everything that we’re going to be doing in our businesses and within our life, essentially can be strategy, but it’s going to be messy strategy. Because what’s going to work for me is not going to work for you. Because we have different life experiences, we have different skill sets, we have different backgrounds, we have different goals. So we can’t just take someone’s advice or do what other people are doing. We have to do trial and error. This is life. It’s the most annoying thing about life for me sometimes, but you’re never going to know if it’s going to workyou can never know unless you try it. And not just for business, but for everything. So, I think that you just have to give it a go. You have to see if it’s going to work for you. And be okay with the results, whether it’s good or not.

Jess considers herself a Brand Botanist for grounded entrepreneurs, and although that’s very true, I see her as the Branding Multi-Hyphenate as she specializes in brand design, website design, and brand photography. In so many ways, she’s like a glorious one-stop-shop for anyone looking to make waves in their business and stand out from the crowd.

I knew that I had to have Jess on the show to talk about the brand experience because she masters it so well, blending so well between her creative tugs and the nurturing guidance or inspiration her clients need. Jess is nothing short of magical and meeting her will open your intuitive doors seeing what can be possible for you. Dive into her enchanting world and be a part of the #wildcraftmood community.

BRANDING IS A REFLECTION OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

People are often surprised to learn that I’m so “in the know” when it comes to building a brand experience. And honestly, my expertise in this venture did come pretty naturally. After I tell you why, I think you’ll start to see what it is we’re building here and why the brand experience is so important.

So, my background is in theatre. I’ve had 10+ years of experience in this field, and I even used to be an Artistic Director and Lead Producer at a local production group. This led me to my degree in theatrical design and performative analysis. When you ground that and look at the experience of a brand, it’s not too hard to see the performative elements in both worlds. I’ve actually been saying for some time now that TikTok is the new form of theatre.

Now, why is this relevant? I promise I have a point. Theatre, at its core, is the reflection of the community and society it is performed in. When you create a brand experience, you’re putting up a reflection of the human experience in your eyes, perspective, and worldview. So, in many ways, to be a brand is to be a human.

Now to get to the actual definition – a fascinating article from 2009, Brand Experience: What Is It? How Is It Measured? Does It Affect Loyalty?, describes the brand experience as the “sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments.” Putting that more plainly, the brand experience is the stylized engagement your following has with the branded content and materials you share.

Still confused? The brand experience covers so. many. things. It’s a difficult task to minimize and truncate something that can be embodied in various different applications. Just know that when anyone engages with your brand, they are engaging in the experience of your brand.

SUPER-QUICK STARTING POINTS FOR BUILDING YOUR BRAND EXPERIENCE

Consider this a short and sweet blend from both Jess and me of action points that will help you begin the process of building your brand experience. But first, a hot tip: with marketing, focus on building connection, and with internal processes, work on nurturing your clients.

Social Media + Marketing

AKA – Instagram, the queen of making an impression and the millennial business card.

The first thing you want to do is start researching the elements, components, and experiences that draw you in. Follow 5-10 accounts that you love. Then ask yourself: Why do you love them? Is it their identity? Their messaging? The way they’re showing up? What is it about them that inspires you? The point is to identify what kind of experience you want to create and the way you want to make people feel – not to copy what those accounts are doing.

It’s also really helpful to check out what people are commenting on in those accounts. What is it that they’re responding to? What are they saying they like? Then check out those commenters’ profiles. Explore their interests and see if you align with any of them. Engage in their spaces and find if you can make a connection with them.

The last thing to do before you start to curate your social media-based brand experience is to discern what it is that you like about these platforms. Whether that is Instagram or another space. Prioritize whatever features and media styles those are. Like Stories or Feed or something more specific like selfies in a Feed. Then pinpoint what the purpose of the platform is – for instance, Instagram’s is to influence. So you would combine what you enjoy with the intention of the platform and let that guide the way you create content.

Take that information and see how you can develop it into your own profile. Utilize it. Incorporate those data-based interests you’ve gathered into what you share and develop. And instead of copying people, emulate what they do/have/are that inspires you. Because it’s not about the specifics of what you are creating, it’s the aesthetics.

Client + Internal Processes

In all honesty, the way you decide how you want to host your onboarded clients is by gathering a lot of the same information. If there’s anything we learned from Jess, it’s that life is an experiment and everything is data. Although she wouldn’t say the word data.

To gather this “data”, I would head to your expander’s websites and define how they walk people through their corner of the internet. Join their newsletters. Grab their freebies. And notice what they do to invite people into their worlds and expertise. Lizzie Campbell of Asteria Co compared the client process to a VIP hotel experience. You can check that insight here. So think about what kind of experience you want your clients to have. What do you want them to tell their friends? What do you want them to take away from this time? What kind of delights do you want them to cherish?

But again, let it all be an experiment. And start by listening to your people. Just try things out and meet people where they are. Develop a structure that serves the work for both you and your client and let it evolve. Once you get into your grove, you’ll know it. There’s no need to have it “perfect.” Starting with a strong intent is almost always enough.

POINTS TO PUT IN YOUR BACK POCKET

  • The brand experience can be embodied in so many different forms that’s it’s hard to define simply. But know that when anyone engages with your brand, they are engaging in the experience of your brand.
  • Our brands get to be our own human experience. An expression of self. Basing them on our creativity and embracing the diverse creations they produce.
  • When creating your brand experience, with marketing, focus on building connection, and with internal processes, work on nurturing your clients.
  • Use points of intention and value to hold you accountable in your work, instead of reaching for the idea of perfection. Perfection isn’t real.
  • Hot tip: use nostalgia to evoke feelings.
  • By living our truth and sharing our gifts, we educate others. It’s not necessarily showing how much we show what we know, but instead embodying it.
  • It’s okay to take a step back and learn the basics. It’s also okay to walk your clients through the basics. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know.
  • It’s not about the tool, it’s about how you use it. When you are limited, you tend to make something even more creative and unique.

          REFERENCES & NEXT STEPS

          • Acceptance is a Form of Magicthis the episode that started this season off with a bang! The biggest takeaway? Your life is what you let it be.
          • I shared my mantra with you on the show, but just in case you want to copy it word for word: “All I can do is all I can do. Even when it’s not enough, it’s enough.”
          • Jenna Starkey – she was my previous coach, and I “met” Jess through Jenna’s rebrand! Jenna is an expert Enneagram reader and Fulfillment Coach. I cherish the days I worked with her!