THE FIVE LEAF CLOVER THAT DRIVES BOTTOM-LINE RESULTS

Michele Dempsey, AIA, LEED AP

A brand is a promise wrapped in an experience. Though many corporations preach about branding and building a brand through logos and fl ashy marketing campaigns, very few focus on how their brand promise translates into an actual experience. It is an incredible missed opportunity. A brand experience can increase the value of a company, inspire customers, motivate employees and engender brand loyalty. After 15 years of working with companies on creating such brand experiences, realization hit that we had developed a successful strategy that proved itself time and again by generating buzz and revenue for our clients. We refer to our proprietary process as a Strategic Branded Experience.

A lot of architects do commercial work, but what is a Strategic Branded Experience?

Think of a Strategic Branded Experience as a five leaf clover: it is 1) beautiful, 2) sustainable, 3) based on psychology, research and science, 4) branded with your mission, values, personality and DNA, 5) developed collaboratively with an innovative, relationship-based, boutique firm that offers individual attention to each client. Our projects are not just a pretty space. They are highly effective and engaging experiences.

Some architects do sustainable and beautiful. Some do branded environments that may be sustainable. But our proprietary 5 leaf clover is a strategic process that produces branded experiences that lead to results. Our commercial spaces function well and beautifully. Plus, each has the underpinning of environmental psychology.

Developing collaborative, personal relationships with our clients is paramount to the process. Defining each clover leaf is individual to each client. We consider questions like, “What is beauty? Does the space provide a sense of proportion and delight? Is it pleasing to the eye?” With regards to sustainability, “Is it healthy? Does it promote well-being? Is it ergonomically comfortable? Are the noise levels and temperature right for your environment?” And so on for each leaf.

In subsequent issues, we will drill down on each leaf in our 5 leaf clover to give a deeper understanding of what role it plays in our process. Emotion drives decisions and purchases. Strategic Branded Experiences make employees feel proud of the work they do and customers feel good about their decisions and purchases so they come back again and again. Such environments motivate people, send certain messages and ultimately, wrap your brand promise in an unforgettable experience.

Misura at the MGM Grand Las Vegas

Blue Cross Store, Williamsport, PA

DISCOVER WHAT CUSTOMERS LOVE: EASY TIPS ANYONE CAN USE

The Beatles told us we can’t buy it, and Johnny Lee has us looking for it in all the wrong places. Yet love makes the world go round, even the business world, built as it is on relationships. Selling often seems to hinge on finding the customer’s “pains,” but what if it were possible to take the opposite approach and find out what our customers would love? In “What Clients Love, a Field Guide to Growing Your Business,” marketing guru Harry Beckwith advocates asking customers what they want. Then, he says, do that.

We can imagine what that would mean because people like our vendors and healthcare providers count us among their customers. So we brainstorm around this question: What delights me as a customer? Possible answers: A product that more than meets my needs; someone going above and beyond what I’ve come to expect; the shop that takes returns, no questions asked. We can imagine what that would mean because people like our vendors and healthcare providers count us among their customers. So we brainstorm around this question: What delights me as a customer? Possible answers: A product that more than meets my needs; someone going above and beyond what I’ve come to expect; the shop that takes returns, no questions asked.

Now that we have the mindset, the question becomes how to gather the information from customers. Big companies use surveys and focus groups, but there is one cost-free way that organizations of any size can use and that is to listen. We may not be able to learn about every client this way, but we can start with individuals: “Who are they? What do they care about? What would help them sleep better at night?” There may be inexpensive ways to better meet customer needs or exceed their expectations: A followup contact to ask whether a product continues to perform well or whether there are any questions since that legal service or medical procedure come to mind.

As trust grows, we can ask questions like these: “How could we make this product help you even more?” or this: “How can we be better?” Responding to customer ideas may or may not be costly in terms of time, money or other resources. We have to decide how to proceed. These kinds of questions work equally well for the leader of a company, non- profit or government office as they do for an employee or a sales rep. Many of us face the more complex situation of having several “customer” groups: those our organization serves and those within our organization who look to us to get the job done, provide a paycheck or support others.

The “reach” is to then ask the big question: “What would you love for our organization to do for you? What small [or big] change would you love to see in this product or service?” An immediate thank you and an honest commitment to seeing what can be done may be all customers really expect from us even at this point. But what if we, once again, imagine? Only this time, we imagine being able to implement an idea that comes directly from a customer. We envision delight. Chances are, the results will be something we can love, too, as clients come to see that we care about their experience, want to be better and can adapt. That makes us all “feel all right.”