As consumers spend more and more time online, brands like Mondelēz and JetBlue are able to stand out by delivering strong brand experiences offline.

Brands strive to give consumers an experience they won't forget. It might take the form of killer content, or a mobile video ad, or it might play out offline by way of experiential marketing but the objective is almost always the same: to add interest and value to the customer-company interaction.

For Mondelēz International - maker of such snack brands as Trident, Triscuit, and Oreo - the customer experience is the focus of a new initiative called Shopper Futures. The next iteration of Mobile Futures, which was launched back in 2012, this 90-day program is designed to identify ways to "redefine retail" and streamline the path to purchase. Mondelēz is inviting North American tech and mobile startups to pitch their ideas and ultimately work directly with retailers and brands on pilot programs that bring their emerging tech innovations to life.

"Traditional models are being disrupted every day," says Laura Henderson, Head of U.S. Media and Communications at Mondelēz International. "While that creates challenges, it also introduces new possibilities." Henderson hopes the program will solve some of the challenges that face today's shoppers, as well as expose fresh opportunities for growth. "New media has allowed us to communicate with audiences like never before, in the right place at the right time," she says.

Mondelēz is just one of the companies that's been exploring ways to enhance the customer experience. Last month, JetBlue Airways introduced three independent brand experiences that merged digital media with the offline world. Through its partnership with agency Mullen Lowe U.S. and experiential and outdoor media company Pearl Media, JetBlue unveiled an interactive digital window in New York's Meatpacking District that, (Read more...) images and video, allowed bystanders to explore eight attractions on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Consumers were encouraged to share images of themselves with the display on Instagram using the hashtag #JetBlueGetaways for the chance to win a flight package to the island - the nonstop service that the project was intended to promote.

At a mall near Miami, JetBlue's "Shades Up" digital interactive game installation simulated the JetBlue inflight experience and offered a variety of aerial views of the airline's routes through the windows. Also in New York, an interactive virtual experience and digital storefront display called "Wingman" was used to engage consumers on the street. A digital crewmember - who was later revealed to be an actual person - was introduced to personify JetBlue's "award-winning approach to customer service." The hidden-camera experience resulted in a YouTube video that JetBlue is sharing across its social accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For JetBlue, humanizing the brand experience was extremely important. "JetBlue's mission is to inspire humanity, and we breathe this into every customer experience," says Phillip Ma, advertising manager at JetBlue. Ma adds that "surprising and delighting" customers helps the company to deliver on this promise. "Being able to illustrate the brand's mission to inspire humanity through 'Wingman' on the ground reiterates the great service provided to customers at every brand touchpoint."

According to JetBlue, the Miami digital experience saw nearly 9,000 interactions over a one-week period and generated more than 1,600 email submissions to JetBlue's roundtrip ticket sweepstakes. "Wingman," meanwhile, managed to engage some 2,600 unique participants and deliver valuable insight into airline customers' wants and needs (such as "more legroom").

Consumers are accustomed to brand experiences that unfold online, but in our omnichannel world, it's becoming increasingly important for companies to expand to every possible point of contact. If brands hope to engender trust and develop a lasting relationship with their customers, they have to go beyond trying to secure a sale and consider how they are perceived by their target audience. Experiences like those devised by JetBlue, along with Mondelēz International's efforts to revolutionize the way customers shop, stand to improve the impression of their brands.

When you're considering ways to enhance your brand experience, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Be consistent across all media channels. JetBlue's "Wingman" resembles the familiar holographic displays installed in airports across the country. The "Wingman" image has been heavily promoted on Facebook and Twitter, which makes for a consistent cross-channel experience.
  • Embrace emerging technology. Mondelēz expects its startup partners to communicate with consumers through such emerging technologies as conductive ink on product packaging and mobile beacons. Brands should take a cue from the company and consider how novel technologies can be used to excite audiences and deliver value.
  • Think continuous engagement. In a digital environment overrun with content, ads, and your competition, creating a seamless and ongoing brand experience is crucial to success. Every interaction that a consumer has with your brand is an opportunity for improvement, and a chance to deliver an experience so positive it will propagate more of the same.

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