Our lives are digital, the competition for attention is performative and the rules of engagement have changed. The TikTok/Twitch era of influence is on deck.
Banks aren’t used to competing with c-stores, and c-stores aren’t used to competing with Nike, but in the digital space, they absolutely do. You don’t buy sneakers at a convenience store, but you may grab them from a locker there.
People who use apps for banking are the same people who use apps to pay for their gas and buy new shoes. We don’t become different people with different expectations based on which app is open on our phone. Consider also the chats we’re in, searches we’re doing, and locations we are arriving to and from. There is constant movement and context switching, or experience relativity.
There are no boundaries in our digital lives. Customers slide seamlessly from streaming content to ordering food, changing their utility provider to buying new appliances, refinancing mortgages, meme stock shorts, the list is endless. In the digital space, a brand can be cutting edge one moment and see their experience surpassed by a brand outside their industry in the next.
Experience relativity and the stories we tell
Before Instagram was an option, “influencers'' would draw the cool things they did on cave walls. For better or worse, constant comparison is hardwired into human existence.
Now, an entire digital world exists under the piece of glass we hold in our hands. All brands have the opportunity to serve an experience to anyone, and everyone can signal to the rest of the world how they believe the brand did in creating that experience.
Digital products enhance people’s lives by removing the friction from getting a ride to the airport, tracking their dinner from restaurant to doorstep, and paying their friend back for a concert ticket with a quick tap. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bank or a c-store or an insurance provider - those experiences are now the bar you have to meet.
If you don’t clear it, there will be one star and a nasty comment going up on a digital cave wall to be seen by everyone else who might do business with you.
It’s not about industry or product, it’s about people
Experience relativity is a challenge, but access to customers in the digital space is also a huge opportunity for brands who put in the time to truly understand their customers' lives and build experiences to make them better and easier.
Companies that design solutions to real human friction, and market those solutions accordingly, have an opportunity to define themselves in the mind of the customer, and benefit from the reputational lift those customers can give them in return.
There are three key pillars - customer experience strategy, digital products and services, and digital branding and marketing. Those areas of expertise aren’t new, but in the digital space where competition is everywhere, they have to be connected and you have to be great at each.
To meet this moment, brands have to design with the customer in mind, build a digital product or service that creates value, and market that value to stand out among their competitors.
The challenge is great but the payoff is not bound by the deep pockets and glossy campaigns of yesterday, but instead by the thoughtful experiences that customer-forward brands can imagine and bring to life.
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