The Experience Illusion

by Brian Haven
@ 10:40 PM


» Thoughts



I've noticed a breakdown between the image some brands project and what they actually deliver. Take Apple for example. When I see their ads on TV and in print, then I visit their stores or use their products, it all feels consistent. The look, feel, and layout of the store all resonate with that marketing campaign, and it all ties in to the products they make. The employees are knowledgeable and pleasant, and the creativity exhibited in their communications matches their products.

Now consider Target. The ads I see on TV and print paint a very specific (modern) aesthetic about that brand. In many ways it feels similar to Apple. But when I go into the store it's just doesn't deliver. It's messy, lacks a modern aesthetic, the employees are often rude or are not knowledgeable--the experience they project through brand messaging is not consistent with the experience when you walk though the door. Sure, there are products here and there that fit with the marketing style. Method soap and Philippe Starck's beautiful yet relatively un-usable products come to mind (have you seen the Starck keyboard and mouse -- puh-lease). But the rest looks the same as what I see at Kmart or Walmart (products, layout, employees), yet I have a much higher expectation when I walk through the doors.

So who's problem is it? The company's? The agency responsible for the marketing? Probably a little of both. Props to the agency that can make Target look much better than it actually is, but doesn't Target have a responsibility to live up to the expectation? Is marketing so disconnected from reality that they'll position any brand in any way regardless of what they can deliver?

So this breakdown between the brand promise and the actual experience begs the question--does the company understand what an experience really is? I would argue no. Maybe Target should hire some design strategists to help the company live up to it's image. Imagine if Target felt like an Apple store--smart, enthusiastic employees, organized store design, clean product presentation, product demonstrations--a much different experience than what you see today.


01 Jul 2007
My name is Brian Haven (my friends just call me...

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26 Jul 2007
My colleague, Josh Bernoff, kicked off a great discussion yesterday...

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