Friday, July 17, 2009

Tangible vs Intangible

The realm of brand experience is broadening all the time, and as media further fragments, so will the definitions that define a particular channel. So for example, outdoor and ambient media is case and point where the line between these two channels blur. The same can be said about brand experience; it is no longer just applicable to outdoor events, exhibitions or promotional sampling opportunities of a brand. The term is so much wider than that, the user experience through a website; the 5 second decision at the supermarket shelf; a recommendation from a friend for a new flavoured chewing gum, and the list goes on. So you could argue that any engagement a consumer has with a brand, is a brand experience.

In this post I'm interested in exploring the experience a consumer has with a brand in the physical space. There are two components that make up this form of brand engagement, broken into tangibles and intangibles. The tangibles comprise the spatial design; the materials used to form the physical construction. For example the structure, flooring, lighting, finish and so forth. The intangibles are driven by human factors and are about how a consumer engages with those aspects of a brand you can't touch, but you can feel and leave a lasting memorable impression. These comprise of service, process, delivery, education, tone and behavior. If you can get these aspects right you are likely to get your consumer recommending the experience to friends. We call this the design of the experience, critical to the holistic brand experience.

A great example of a project which successfully merges the tangibles with the intangibles is the newly constructed Qantas Centre for Service Excellence in Sydney. The project undertaken by E2 and MPA Construction Group is the first of it's kind in Australia. E2 Creative Director, Alex Ritchie has worked on some of the worlds most notable design experiences, including the Millennium Dome, Guinness Storehouse and Disneyland in Paris.

A 5000M2 space, with a 20 meter wide piazza in the centre. This is the heart or hub of the centre, where staff and attendees can socialise, eat and network. As you move into the peripherals of the hub, different zones address Qantas' different training needs, including simulated cabin crew pods, workstations, image and presentation areas. Critical to the Qantas brand, customer service is an omnipresent intangible factor to the Qantas experience. 'Every moment counts' is the creative concept behind this project, which is brought to life successfully by creating brand drama as attendees walk through this pioneering space.

In effect, this project sets the benchmark of what a total brand experience should embody by cleverly ensuring Qantas brand attributes are ubiquitously imbued into every part of the experience.

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