My brother-in-law very matter-of-factly called me a rather unpleasant name yesterday. I was thinking, “WTF!?”, but my very calm response was, “is that how you are experiencing me, or is that how you are remembering me?”
The reason this exchange didn’t escalate into a domestic 911 emergency is because he’s known me since I was 9 years old, and I’m sure for brief moments during all these years, I’ve been a “LMIB” a time or two—especially during puberty and those confusing teen years, not to mention swelling to nearly twice my size…twice. Still no excuse to call me out, but I accept (not subscribe to) his foibles. I’ve known him a long time too and my memories of him aren’t exactly snow white.
This got me thinking. When building a brand, is it the experience we are trying to create or the memory of the experience? There are businesses I shy away from because I have a bad memory of them. Often when I give them a chance, my experience is good and slowly my bad memories are replaced. And if it’s done right, the new memories are more positive than if they had gotten it right the first time. Still, I tend to forgive, not forget.
Remember the Tylenol scare in the 80’s. My memory of that still makes me shiver when I grab the red bottle and often I’ll buy generic—and not because of the price. Intellectually I know everything is ok, but my memory rules.
Often though, the problem doesn’t even stem from the product or service. Sometimes it’s a seemingly minor touch-point that just doesn’t live up to the brand promise. I’m not a difficult consumer, but I do expect consistency and good customer policies—the first of which is the customer always has something valid to say.
The strongest trigger of memory is scent and scent marketing is happening all around us. In big-box stores, speciality departments will infuse a scent into the air to attract consumers to their product. Real Estate agents have been doing this for years—advising clients to bake bread or boil cinnamon before an open house. Scent marketing seems risky though, especially in this age of “noscents” and extreme intolerance. While scent marketing is not really a practical tactic for the online arena, it is interesting. Besides, who said, if it can be dreamed, it can be done?
Great experiences give birth to great memories. Creating great experiences is within the direct control of every business. The resulting memories are personal and a lot more powerful.
By the way, my brother-in-law was remembering, not experiencing me and I’ll still be experiencing him—albeit, a lot less often.