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Inside Look: Stand-Out Brand Experiences

By Shaun Culbertson | October 26, 2021

Blue apple illustration with the words "Stand Out" written on the apple

Whether live or virtual, standing out is about more than attention-grabbing, it’s about creating positive, memorable brand experiences that work to build trust and a loyal following. We all know the cost of a negative brand experience. The effects can be instantaneous on social media, impacting reputation and sales.

Positive experiences create deeper connections – whether they are simple but uncommon courtesies or dramatic and immersive engagements. Stand out brand experiences create a sense of community and inclusiveness – even online. They are holistic and sensory, with the aim of cementing a brand relationship. After all, customer experience is the only thing separating your brand from the competition. And it may be the only thing separating your product or service from becoming a commodity. 

We’ve asked our dR team to comment on Stand Out Brand Experiences they’ve personally encountered. Here’s what they have to say.

 

Kelly:

The Stand-Out Brand: Southwest for day to day travel (I’ll save Delta for another day)

Describe the Stand-Out Brand Experience: 

We travel a bit, nothing fancy by any means because we like to do things and want the cost to be affordable. We travel out of Cleveland typically (not a hub) and we have to look around for flights, times, and days that make sense. We will look for and use whatever airline that makes sense for many different reasons. Southwest is not always on our radar because, for some reason, the times or availability often don’t match up with our needs. However, we just traveled Southwest for the first time in a long time. As it happens, they are celebrating 50 years of service this year. And I have to say, it was such a pleasure to see how consistent the brand has remained over the years. Even during a pandemic, this company stays on brand. 

The mission of Southwest Airlines is a dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit

 

How did this experience compare with the competition?

Even though Southwest is considered a low-cost carrier, the experience feels different — from top to bottom — from other low-cost carriers. This is a brand that stays true, does not deviate, and when they do, they fix it immediately.  I remember a story of the incident they had in 2018, with Flight 1380, after pilot Tammie Jo Shults navigated the damaged plane to safety, she met with the passengers — to personally check on each of them individually. The airline spokesperson gave the media facts immediately. Even in the middle of a crisis, Southwest handled the entire situation in such a way that nothing was taken out of context, even in our crazed social media society. 

 

In what ways do you feel more connected with this brand?

From sitting at the gate to boarding the plane to stuffing our luggage in the bin to finding our seat, the experience with Southwest just feels different. And the Southwest crew makes you feel different. The plane feels cleaner, a little nicer and the people working are actually making an effort to be helpful and accommodating, rather than bothered and annoyed with passengers. My bag under my seat is usually a mess and the Southwest flight attendants are calmer and less uptight when they request passengers keep carryons under the seat during take-off and landing. The crew’s sense of humor is simply icing on the cake. Why not make it fun for 50 years? Remember we typically, for some reason, are assigned seating in the back of the plane (and I really don’t mind, Matt might because he is 6’4”). The experience may not be glamorous, but it feels different.

 

Chad:

The Stand-Out Brand: Anderson Design Group

Describe the Stand-Out Brand Experience:

Being a nature and National Park enthusiast I had been looking for artwork to display in my home office that portrayed the places I have visited as well as parks I aspire to see in the future. I came across Anderson Design Group through a simple Google search and fell in love with their original artwork and artists immediately. It matched my aesthetic perfectly. 

But beyond having a great product, once I ordered I instantly received a follow-up email with my order details. That’s common, no big deal right? But this was different. The language in the email was not only helpful, but it got me even more excited to get my package. It was fun and engaging. 

When I received my shipment, it was securely packaged and had cool, friendly and promotional inserts that not only matched the artwork that I just purchased, but they were also engaging. When someone wants to KEEP a promotional insert just because it looks cool, you know you’re doing something right. 

 I accepted receiving emails from them beyond my initial order. They didn’t bombard me daily or even weekly. Their cadence was just right. And again, the language and design was fun, friendly and inviting. Even though I’m set for now, they have me wanting more!

 

How did this experience compare with the competition? 

I initially ordered some posters on Amazon that I was going to frame. They were NOT what they looked like in the picture, were the wrong size and the printing looked like it was done on a laserjet printer. I looked elsewhere and nothing compared as far as artistry and quality.

 

In what ways do you feel more connected with this brand?

They had me with their product, no doubt, and I would have been happy with just that. But they created an overall experience for me that was well beyond my expectations. And it was all in the little details. They made me feel special. It felt beyond buying a simple product. It felt like we were sharing something we both love. I look at them every day.

 

Shaun:

The Stand-Out Brand: State Farm Insurance

Describe the Stand-Out Brand Experience: 

I’ve been a State Farm Insurance customer for over a decade now but it wasn’t until recently that felt closer to the brand. And not another billing statement. I downloaded their “Drive Safe & Save” app and it tracks my driving performance. I’m shocked by how accurate and thorough it is. It provides a driver score and discounts high scores. It actually motivates you to be an excellent driver. 

 

How did this experience compare with the competition? 

I haven’t been a customer with anyone else for a long time to compare experiences. I don’t see any reason to leave now.

 

In what ways do you feel more connected with this brand?

I feel like they really do care about people who drive safely, and just looking to increase people’s rates. It feels rewarding. My representative even called me to make sure my experience was going well. Nice to know that some brands understand customer loyalty.

 

Anna:

The Stand-Out Brand: LEUCHTTURM1917 

Describe the Stand-Out Brand Experience: 

I’ve always preferred to take notes by hand. A good notebook and pen are versatile tools – they help me keep track of important details and brainstorm better than any digital system I’ve tried so far. My favorite notebook to use by far is the Leuchtturm1917 Composition notebook. 

What makes this brand stand out to me is how they focus on what makes them different. They don’t have a broad product line. They have no social media presence or trending collaborations with other brands. Leuchtturm1917 is not trying to be everything to everyone. They do one thing very well, no matter what everyone else is doing. 

 

How did this experience compare with the competition? 

Obviously, you can take notes in any notebook. What sets Leuchtturm notebooks apart is the details, and when I’m using something daily the details really add up. Their paper is high-quality and thinner than a lot of the competition, with no bleeding or feathering. They even have page numbers and a blank index page to fill in, for easy reference. There’s a small pocket for spare business cards or other ephemera. Every detail of the user experience has been thought of.

 

In what ways do you feel more connected with this brand? 

Their motto, Denken mit der Hand, translates to “Think by Hand.” On their website, they explain the importance of writing by hand, and that sense of importance clearly carries over to everything they make. The brand is more than 100 years old now, on the fourth generation of family owners, but they haven’t lost sight of what makes them special.  

 

Ginger:

The Stand-Out Brand: Fidelity

Describe the Stand-Out Brand Experience: 

I received a call from a Fidelity customer service representative after I left a big agency and assumed they were simply trying to upsell me on something I wasn’t interested in investing in. Instead, they were checking in on my current independent experience. They offered a few helpful tips on how to move an investment in order to increase yield and shelter it from taxes, and they helped me move some funds to a Health Savings Account (HSA) — all simple transactions which ended up being a real benefit to me.

 

How did this experience compare with the competition? 

In an industry riddled with shady dealings and class action lawsuits of notorious players like Wells Fargo and Robin Hood, it’s refreshing to find an investment firm that cares about the little guy.

 

In what ways do you feel more connected with this brand?

I definitely feel more trusting with all of my investments and much more comfortable reaching out for advice.

 

Matt:

The Stand-Out Brand: Moen

Describe the Stand-Out Brand Experience: 

Moen provides, I believe, one of the best customer service experiences of any brand across all product categories. They make it very easy to get replacement parts and products, with almost no questions asked aside from those required to identify the product or part. I have had several faucets and cartridges replaced at no charge and without any pushback. And some of those have been over 10 years after my initial purchase.

 

How did this experience compare with the competition? 

Hands down, no comparison! It was like night and day. It hasn’t happened often, and not at all recently, but when I have used another brand and had an issue, the product support and service was nowhere near what Moen provides.

 

In what ways do you feel more connected with this brand?

This is one of the few product categories where past customer service experiences have been so positive that I pretty much exclusively purchase Moen. I know that if there are any issues, they will take care of me.

 

 

Creating a Stand-Out brand experience starts with not only knowing and anticipating your customers’ needs, but also with equipping and empowering your team to make good on your brand promise – at every touchpoint. 

 

 

Are you ready to raise the bar and create Stand-Out brand experiences? We should talk.

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Author

Shaun Culbertson

Shaun is our Digital Design Director. He directs the design and development of all our digital work and positions the creative in all digital channels. Shaun offers our clients more than fifteen years of digital experience. Extremely detail-oriented and design-focused, Shaun always looks to take the design to the next level. Before arriving at dR, Shaun worked as Senior Art Director at Adcom and Art Director at Rosetta. He has worked on several Fortune 500 brands, including Sherwin-Williams, Marriott International, and Rigid Tools. Outside of work, Shaun is an avid backpacker, dog lover, and aspiring Polaroid artist.

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