Customer engagement is one thing brands want to achieve, but customer understanding is the true test of a brand.

In our survey of 375 senior marketers representing four main industries from around the world, three quarters indicated a significant change to their business brand over the coming year – this is the Great Repositioning.

One essential part of overhauling brand is to effectively communicate the new brand and what it stands for. Without this, seizing the opportunities of changing economic and societal norms will be difficult if not impossible.

Talking to stakeholders

Despite high confidence in their organisation’s ability to engage its stakeholders in its vision, marketers know they will face a variety of obstacles in doing so.

The chief barrier to conveying the vision is a perennial one – budget, identified by 74%. But the two other most common barriers concern creative capabilities: communicating a complex narrative (68%) and overcoming established brand perceptions (67%).

This is a critical challenge for marketers seeking to reposition: if an established brand is incompatible with what new customers expect, turning the boat in a new direction means not just forging a new narrative, but in many cases dismantling an older narrative.

The result has to be emphatic – new customers must believe that a business with a new brand is measurably different to the one left behind. New customers need to perceive the new brand as credible. Only then can a business be confident in its ability to compete and win in a new market.

Experiential in action

Les Binet and Peter Field’s The Long and The Short of It research showed that to create brand effects, emotional engagement is critical - tapping into emotional ‘System 1’ thinking over the rational ‘System 2’ thinking.

Experiential marketing is particularly effective at tapping into both these systems of thinking, by making the customer an active participant in the brand story, making an increased likelihood of creating an emotional connection.

When our client Jaguar Land Rover wanted to align its brand with a low-carbon, high-tech future, it created an immersive experiential campaign, centred on an exhibition and program of events at the St Martin’s School of Art.

The event brought thinkers, journalists and relevant celebrities together to tell compelling stories about how technology could be used to make significant changes to reduce global CO2 emissions.

And when US sports franchise Major League Baseball (MLB) wanted to reach new audiences in the UK, it built experiences in London that immersed visitors in the historic rivalries between iconic teams such as the Boston Red Sox, LA Dodgers and the NY Yankees - and then connected them to modern, urban cultural passion-points from food to music.

By making their audience an active part of these story-telling experiences, these companies were able to establish complex narratives in an emotionally resonant way. As businesses get ready to reposition their brands for a new era, this is a technique that few can afford to miss.

Businesses are looking to brands to deal with market changes, societal changes and a looming recession. To understand how to deal with all three, email to sign up to receive a copy of our report - Power of Experience, launching soon!