Strong brands tell a story, and do so in ways that are meaningful, relevant, and relatable. Strong brands connect to their consumers’ lifestyle and values. In today’s omnichannel environment, there are many ways for a brand to make this connection real by creating memorable experiences for consumers at every touchpoint. I sat down with Ian Cross, a Senior Lecturer at Bentley University in Marketing and Information Design & Corporate Communication, to get his thoughts on creating a meaningful brand experience.

Thinking about the 4 elements of Bentley's Experience Scorecard: Usability, Emotional Experience, Design, and Brand, in what way has the pandemic impacted how companies and brands think about these 4 factors?

I think there has been an emergence of products that are trying to make us feel better about the human condition. Life has been sad, depressing and stressful for humanity in the pandemic and we need cheering up. There is a return to products clearly stating what they do and doing it well and consumers are seeking out well made products, that are designed to look good and function well.

Niwaki garden secateurs
Niwaki garden secateurs (courtesy of

Allbirds sneakers are supremely comfortable, sleek and make you feel good with their emphasis on organic materials suited for a more sustainable world. The service economy is struggling terribly to adapt and so we turn to the comfort of products, for example in DIY, cooking, gardening. Using Niwaki garden secateurs, made by artisans in Japan, and holding these secateurs in your hand while pruning a rose bush with a deft snip is a thing of beauty, refinement and practical plant management. You are doing good, feeling good and marvel at the simplicity and effectiveness of the design.

What brand do you think has brought together these 4 elements exceptionally well?

KitchenAid Stand Mixer
KitchenAid Stand Mixer - Professional 600 Series

The pandemic has forced us back into the home and fending for ourselves. It has given us the opportunity to discover or rediscover the basic experience of living. My great pleasure has been an investment in a KitchenAid stand mixer and learning how to bake bread and make pastry. The mixer is simple to use – stop, start, slow to fast. It comes with many attachments for peeling/slicing, prepping etc .and the peeled vegetables or mixed dough come outlooking professional and cookery book worthy! It’s the results that count.

Emotionally I feel connected to my mixer – it is reliable, makes me feel happy to use it, its weight and solidity is deeply satisfying and reassuring. The design principles belong to the maxim form follows function – which is something I hold to be very true whether in architecture, fashion or product design. But the design has evolved with a sophisticated color palette and variety of shapes and sizes and bowls for specific tasks. The brand says what it does – the KitchenAid. What could be simpler than that?

How do you see the role of a brand in an increasingly digital experiential landscape?

Digital has opened up a world of accessibility to products and services from every corner of the world. It has allowed us to shop for great price deals and better value. But the ubiquity of the web and all the product and service variations can result in consumer confusion and mistrust. A strong, reliable brand has a more important role to play than ever before. A brand is a mark of trust between the company and the consumer. Consumers have more product knowledge than ever before and knowledge is power. In a world of overwhelming choice, a strong brand is a beacon of good sense, smart choices and value for the consumers it is targeting. It signifies that the consumer who owns that brand has a similar set of values. A brand empowers the consumer and digital and social has enabled the consumer to “wear” that brand as a symbol of their values to followers, influencers and other brands around the world.

Lynda Ferrari

Lynda is a consumer marketing expert with a track record of successful U.S. and global product launches. She has created new product innovations across consumer wellness, from personal care to digital health. She is a founding partner of Compass Marketing.

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