Graphic: Rabbit Holes

Good Branding Creates Anticipation Through Design & Experience

Good branding is often discussed in terms of visual representation, but is that what customers are buying?

The trout stamp in this LinkedIn post brings back a flood of memories of filling out forms in tackle shops that smelled of crickets or feathers & fur, of funky county-clerk offices with buzzing fluorescent lights and creaky furniture. I think of scribbling out personal details into segmented government forms along with great-uncles, brothers, and fishing buddies; then forking over cash to get the stamp.

Are Trout Stamps Brands And Why Not?

None of the above was done because we desired the stamp. The stamp was the ticket, not the ride. The state forms were filled in anticipation of filling our lungs with the musky smell of water and earth, stuffing our feet into waders, then stealthily shuffling hip-deep into cold rivers with smooth-handled fly-rods, hoping to fool native trout with imitations of mayflies and caddis made from thread, hackle, and hair. The brand was trout fishing as an experience. The stamp was the representation of the experience. In this context, the stamp could be the logo.

"We never thought of ourselves as collecting stamps. We collected experiences."

The stamp represented all of the fish-adjacent activity, but we never thought of ourselves as collecting stamps. We collected experiences.

Pasting a particularly nice stamp into my permit wallet, fingers sliding over the perforations, eyes focused on the brightly illustrated model trout raised the anticipation of what was to come. Yet, I can’t recall ever buying a stamp for the stamp.

When a brand has created a strong sense of experience, people will pay a premium for the mere whiff of that experience.

However, when a brand has created a strong sense of experience, people will pay a premium for the mere whiff of that experience. Such loyalists happily fork over pounds of portraits of Ben Franklin for the idea of an open road and a loud motorcycle in the case of Harley Davidson, or the feeling of elegant sophistication embodied by something from Tiffanys.

What is the expectation that your brand creates?

A Logo is Not Your Brand.

A well-designed logo can create anticipation of a good experience, but good branding is a result of good experiences that their customers then can identify with a well-designed logo or brand mark.

Brand creators have to ask

  • How do we identify the brand as an experience that brings people back?
  • What anticipation will the logo create?
  • Does the experience match the anticipation?
  • How can we reinforce our brand across all touchpoints?

If you’d like help figuring out how to build your brand, find me down at the clerk’s office. I’ve decided I might want to collect stamps after all.

author avatar
Chadwick