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Re-Thinking The Experience

March 26, 2014

The XX are currently perfoming in one of America’s largest (55,000 sqft) and unobstructed venues, New York’s Park Avenue Armory, but they are doing it very differently. Instead of doing the bleeding obvious and peforming to multiple thousands, they are doing the inverse; in each of their twice nightly sets, they perform to a grand total of 45 people at a time.

Like any good brand should, they’ve re-thought the experience in order to get closer to their audience.

By way of illustration, when you arrive at the venue you go through a series of passages to emerge in a box-like space where the band is there ready to greet you. Talk about transformative; in one single move, they’ve altered the status between crowd and performer and in so doing brought the audience much closer to them. Once you add the additional elements- there’s no stage and the band use backlights, not spotlights- you’ve laddered up the intimacy of the performance.

As it becomes fashionable to think about brand experiences and agencies map out customer journeys, it’s easy to find yourself lost in the minute detail and looking for incremental ways to enhance experiences through technology. It seems like this technological incrementalism might be missing a trick; the opportunity to make a giant creative leap.

As the XX example illustrates, it’s very powerful when you twist a recognizeable formula. Not that the XX are the first to break down boundaries, it’s been a common practice in theater for a while, but for one of the world’s most sought after bands, it’s a significant change to do the unpredicatable and break from the formula. As a consequence, the band adds to its cool factor and creates a memorable experience for the core of its audience who got to witness something truly unique.

The world seems full of opportunities to transform the predictable nature of our experiences in the physical world. So much of what we do is based on patterns that have been reinforced by years of history. Put technology to one side for a second, outside of the internet, the way we physically- shop, bank, travel, stay, play, eat and experience culture have remained essentially unchanged for over a hundred years.

So maybe the next time you are asked to plot customer journey you should zoom out and think of the macro picture first.

Ask yourself two questions.

How could you radically change the journey?

How does your radical change transform the relationship between customer and brand?

Maybe by thinking bigger, we will end up with truly transformative experiences versus the expected and entirely predicable sales rep/customer service agent interacting with some database driven app on Google Glass, or an iPad.

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