Brand experiences: New themes of engagement

For an industry that thrives on creative problem solving, Dan Keene, Director of Brand Experience at ENGINE believes the future of brand experiences is bright.

Dan Keene

Director of Brand Experience House 337


Brand experiences, like every other marketing channel, has had its world turned upside. The immediate ramifications have been tough, but for an industry that thrives on creative problem solving I believe our future as a channel is bright.

Through the recent behavioural changes and acceptance of virtual experiences, we are now able to rip-up the rulebook to create a new breed of connected experiences that might exist virtually today, but are built to flow between hybrid worlds of tomorrow. Virtual experiences aren’t therefore a repurposing of past events, they’re an opportunity to innovate through creative collaboration.

From completely reimagining experiences to accessibility, sustainability and measurement, the new era of brand experiences isn’t confined by physical or even creative boundaries; they are free to innovate.

Human touch will be a premium moment that we all deliberate over how to use.

Dan Keene

Here are some of my observations on the positive and innovative themes of engagement we can turn to as we move beyond lockdown:

1. Human touch

We’re all craving human connection which, when the time is right, will create a connection rebound like no other. But these moments of connection aren’t going to be what they used to be, at least for now. Human touch will be a premium moment that we all deliberate over how to use, creating a new engagement opportunity for brands to explore, respectfully.

2. Beyond borders

Our borders might be physically shut but virtually we’ve never been more connected. With attitudes set to change towards business travel, how can physical events positively adapt to fill the hole? Future experience models could focus on more localised physical engagement with macro virtual visibility, which in turn will increase the environmental and social sustainability of events, win, win!

3. Digital twin

The idea of having a virtual version of a live experience isn’t new, in fact as an industry we’ve been trying to get clients to buy into this idea for some time. The benefits are clear, from accessibility to measurement, a digital twin will take experiences beyond a brief moment in time. But, if the integration of the physical and digital isn’t properly considered the resulting experience could confuse consumers. So, treat your twin with respect.

4. Community first

The rebirth of what a community is and the values that it stands for have been hands down the shining light of lockdown. Communities are thriving, in every shape and form, but brands will need to treat them with respect by putting people before profits. Brand experiences can play an important role in keeping the community spirit active long past lockdown as long as marketeers and brands exhibit a real understanding of their audiences’ needs and values.

Agencies, brands and businesses will need to be hyper aware of how their audiences are feeling and the resulting changes in their behaviour.

Dan Keene

5. Emotional intelligence

This is going to be critical as we navigate creative opportunities in our new world order. Agencies, brands and businesses will need to be hyper aware of how their audiences are feeling and the resulting changes in their behaviour. We shouldn’t be afraid of this space as the most memorable experiences will come from getting this right. If we’re honest, show that we care and empathise with our audiences, brands will be able to create a new level of consumer trust.

6. Connecting through content

Connection and content are the marketing buzz words of today as we work out how best to create meaningful experiences. They’re often used separately, but their affiliation is becoming more prominent as we bring people together virtually. Creative content can inspire, stimulate debate, provide escapism, and bring us together around the things we love, which in turn creates more meaningful connections.

7. Innovation through collaboration

When we’re forced to make changes or re-evaluate the way we do things innovation is usually close behind. For brand experiences this has come through the virtual pivot, which has led to specialists from all areas realising that they need each other to continue to create innovative work. Our daily interactions at ENGINE include conversations with the likes of creative technologists, content producers, gamers, broadcast and sponsorship experts. If this is the future of how to create cross-channel experiences, then things are looking up already.

It’s been, and continues to be a tumultuous time, but when we look back from our rocking chairs I believe we’ll see some of our most progressive, collaborative and inspiring work, if we chose to embrace change and look to positively move forward together.

Guest Author

Dan Keene

Director of Brand Experience House 337


Dan has over 15 years’ experience in the live events and brand experience industry. He’s delivered every kind of experience going, whilst also consulting across many major integrated campaigns and sponsorship activations for some of the world’s leading brands. Dan’s career has seen him work with a broad range of industry sectors for brands such as Guinness, BP, E.ON, Google, WeWork, Santander, Diageo, Virgin and YouTube. He’s delivered work globally in markets from Europe, the South Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, giving him a significant pool of experience and contacts to make anything possible.