Brand experience changed, also, to adapt to and accommodate the transformative nature of the workplace. Where once thousands of people were used to being embedded in office work culture (morning coffee, water cooler moments, meetings, lunch breaks, glancing at the clock from 4.30pm onwards and, yes, let’s be honest, gossip), now they were cast adrift. Working from the office was no longer their anchor, but for some the modification to their daily routine wasn’t necessarily welcome. For others, the adjustment from a 9-5 job to working from home was a game/life changer.
Since 2020, many of us are now working not just differently but much smarter and better. What was once deemed to be an uncompromising work arrangement has for many been transformed into an adaptable work/life balance. Noted as such by the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation in its recent Future Jobs Strategy report, remote and flexible working is now regarded as a priority.
Of course, certain aspects of flexible working have been around for years (flexi-time, annualised hours, part-time, job sharing, sabbaticals), but what actually works for both the employer and employee depends on numerous factors. From the employee’s perspective, life-work balance compatibility is one. From the employer’s position, the importance of brand experience within the workplace culture should be another. In a business of any size, everyone involved (from employer to employee) should be aware of brand experience and how crucial it is to forming an enduring idea of that brand.
But what exactly is brand experience? In essence, it’s what you feel, what you think, and how you respond to a brand. It’s what makes an impact on you after you encounter or engage with a brand in any environment, physical or digital. Brand experience is crucial because it’s more than a fresh lick of paint in the office or a refurbished kitchen area with a fancy coffee machine – brand experience is something that you intuitively connect with. It should have a personality, a disposition, a distinctive throughline that blends a reliable customer and employee experience, with occasional flashes of surprise that cultivates an emotional reaction.
Creating a valid and valuable brand experience takes time and planning, of course. An understanding of people’s requirements needs to be developed, and from these an accurate, significant and appealing brand experience can be created. Businesses wanting to engage with the reality of a changing workplace (the pre-pandemic assumption that a one-size working week fits everyone no longer persists) need to consider brand storytelling and brand communications.
How, for instance, does a business once more gather its team around the proverbial or actual water cooler? After numerous lockdowns and pivotal changes in workplace systems, how does a business regroup its workforce? When full membership of the team – previously expected as a matter of course – is fragmented, how does a business once again engender a team spirit? We hear and see words such as ‘mission, ‘vision’ and ‘commitment’ bandied about, but is the same dedication there if employees don’t have to negotiate early-morning traffic? And equally important, how do employees once again embrace that crucial aspect of team spirit if the workplace structure is now unfamiliar? Has the employer pivoted, even slightly, their business in the wake of Covid-19? If so, why? And how is it different?
Central to answering these questions is getting to the very root of brand purpose, perceptive brand storytelling and brand communications - in essence, the summation of the brand experience. The brand experience builds an all-inclusive, multi-sensory reaction that forms an appreciative relationship between the employer, employees, customers and the brand. It is a given that in order to produce or stimulate a responsive sensation, people need to realise (and trust) that the businesses and brands they support actually exist. In other words, brands should construct a genuine personality that people can relate to. Doing so provides a more significant value to the workplace experience, the employee role, and the brand behind it.
Gemma Ni Maoltuile, Business Development Director of TapCreative
She helps you with your brand experience, brand storytelling or brand communications.