Fable presents Matter more


Win big with small gestures.

Great stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end – with exciting and unexpected twists and turns along the way that leave us eagerly awaiting the next instalment. A great brand experience is a similar story.

Long-remembered or fast-forgotten?

When you connect with a brand there is a first encounter, a sense of intrigue or anticipation, the reassurance of things going well, the delight when delivery is exceeded, and the welcome relief when an unexpected problem is resolved. In this way, brands are emotional experiences as much as they are about tangible transaction points. As Michael Eisner, a former Disney CEO, put it: “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.”

As an example of those small gestures, let’s plot the simple purchase of a coffee as a brand experience. In the middle is the coffee itself, which of course needs to be good and served in a cup, but there are several points before we get to that. We enter a store (calm or bustling?), there is an interior space (high-end or everyday?), a menu board (complex or basic?), and the staff (smart or casual?). And once we’re done, there’s everything that comes after. The friendly goodbye, the downloadable app with discounts for our next visit, take-home products, and a refer-a-friend reward scheme. All these things add up to a brand experience designed to ensure a repeat purchase and positive recall. And the way to make those gestures build over time into a unique and memorable experience is to design them strategically as ‘touchpoints’.

If you are selling a product with a separated marketing campaign and an externalised delivery service, or you know you provide a service but it just isn’t flowing well, it’s time to think more widely about your brand as a continuous experience. By mapping your customer journey, the opportunities to raise the impact of touchpoints can become clear. If you’re ready for that, let’s chat. Or read on for more about how it works.



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The added value of well-designed touchpoints.

For touchpoints to work well they need to be designed specifically for each brand and its target customers, but let’s stick with coffee for a little longer as an example. Starbucks is famously good at unique touchpoints. It started back in 1971 focused on selling quality coffee at a time when poor quality coffee was the norm in the US. But a quality product is not all that carried Starbucks to global recognition. When Howard Schultz arrived at the company in 1982, a visit to Italy immersed him in the importance of coffee being served in a relaxed environment. As a result, Starbucks added comfy purple armchairs to their stores. Despite being impractical to keep clean, they defined the interiors and became as recognisable as the green branded aprons worn by staff. Since the 1990s, orders were being written on cups to help the serving process, but in 2012 that evolved into the decision to write customer first names on cups. The twist in that story became that the misspelling of names, or the use of funny names, resulted in customers sharing photos of branded cups on social media – with some saying it was always encouraged to work in that exact way.

Chairs, aprons, cups are all highly visible, physical touchpoints and buying a cup of coffee in person is a simple and linear experience. Most companies are more complex, many customer needs are more sophisticated, and the rise of technology gives us expanding digital options to integrate into an experience. But in the coffee example, we can see the way that touchpoints bring a brand to life. It also follows the main stages that any customer goes through when they encounter and build a relationship with a brand.

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Have we met?

New customers firstly need to be made aware that a brand exists, or existing brands might need to generate fresh awareness for new products/services or target markets. This might be where a marketing campaign kicks things off with relevant materials and launch events. At this stage, beware of the temptation to stick 'your logo here' on anything that might seem easy or quirky. Great touchpoints are backed with careful consideration in terms of their quality and differentiation. A standard mug will only undermine any sense that you are special, and who really wants a plastic pen at a time of eco-awareness?

It's not all about materials, awareness also comes from the shared stories of those who have already purchased. Testimonials and word of mouth recommendations are powerful because they endorse trustworthiness. It is one of the key things we consider when developing creative ideas for brand experiences and touchpoints: how will we get people talking about this?

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Walk this way…

Once there is awareness, there needs to be action. If people know about your brand, but that’s not converting into sales or sign-ups, there is a problem to solve. If this is because your product or service is just not up to scratch, that’s where we will focus. But it can also be because next steps after awareness are not clear or accessible enough.

Actions should lead step-by-step towards a purchase. For B2B companies that can be a decision process with multiple people over a long time. Touchpoints at this stage might involve video or AR/VR demonstrations, printable documentation, event stands, or physical prototypes. Packaging can have an important role here. On-shelf packaging is a vital touchpoint for retail because it can be responsible for the awareness, the action, and the purchase decision in one small encounter. But even in other scenarios, a well-designed piece of packaging can make all the difference to perceived value.

Don’t fall at the final hurdle. The stages after purchase can easily get forgotten, so they are one of the biggest opportunities to go above and beyond competitors. Whether online or in-person, how a brand deals with queries and questions, offers extra levels of support, or responds to problems, is a test of the trust needed to gain repeat-purchase loyalty. Wherever a customer might feel let down, there is a way to learn and improve (or adjust expectations earlier in the journey). Although Starbucks might gain from sharing the humour of misspelled names, no company benefits from customers publicly sharing more fundamental flaws or mistakes.

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A flexible friend.

Just like Starbucks, all companies need to evolve with responsive brands to survive and grow. Alongside product development or new services, well-connected brand touchpoints present an extra layer of opportunity to innovate and engage without overhauling an entire proposition. When customers increasingly expect a conversation with brands, the fluidity of physical and digital touchpoints allows businesses to flex and adapt accordingly. Bespoke touchpoints are key to having meaningful and relevant dialogue.

To map and review your current brand experience and touchpoints, talk to us. We’ve designed, sourced, and delivered bespoke launch events, websites, magazines, apps, t-shirts, animated explainers, billboards, and yes… coffee cups. What might we do for you?