by: Idris Mootee

Designers and advertising agency folks are quick to reduce the “brand’ experience to a few moments of truth. This is so outdated CRM speak that contrast the Customer Centric View of experience and service design. The problem is that “brand” will always be about the perception companies want to create, and are by their nature an ‘inside-out’ proposition — a company figures out its brand and what it means, and does what it can to communicate or otherwise impart that message to people.

Experience branding goes beyond the full extent of the brand experience, up and down along both the physical and information value chain and into the virtual world of Google and Facebook. It is not just a tagline and a few tough points. Many marketers are still seeing it with the old brand marketing mindset. There are plenty of opportunities for innovation along the brand experience spectrum, just need imagination.

So what industries are ripe for experience innovation? I think the top three are 1/funerals 2/hospitals 3/schools.

Take funeral services, an $11 billion industry in the US alone and despite the necessary climate, they are taking an upturn. The trade association projects the US death rate will increase from eight people per thousand in 2007 to 9.3 people per thousand in 2020 and 10.9 per thousand in 2040, as baby boomers die off in growing numbers. If you can create a niche product, you can ask for a super premium.

Fortress Mausoleums' cast-stone, above-ground tombs range in price from $5,000 to $15,000, but the $15,000, two-person model is the most popular and still selling well. Filling the void for branded funeral experience and merchandise, Eternal Image last year began selling the official caskets and urns of Major League Baseball teams. They also offer caskets and urns with the insignia of several universities, including Purdue, Texas Tech. Imagine a casket with Yale or Harvard’s logo on it. Expect to buy caskets with your favorite rock album and lyrics on it. Trying to think of a good example. Maybe you are can provide us with some suggestions.

The other one is hospitals. I think we can make certain experiences more memorable. Here’s an example, Hello Kitty is coming to a hospital near you. Now you, yes you, can brand the birth of your child with Sanrio magic. A 30-Bed hospital in central Taiwan has created a Hello Kitty themed maternity ward, for those wanting to cute up their birth journey. The newborns are wrapped in pink and blue receiving blankies, the room décor is dolled up with cute kitties, all the linens are Hello Kitty branded, and the nurses wear official Hello Kitty uniforms. Expect more creative themes, how about a Mario and Luigi maternity ward or a Star Wars laser treatment center? Or Prada botox clinic?

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