Every brand is a journey. Through the brand, customers can discover new aspects of themselves, new strengths, new abilities, new ways of being and doing. The quality of that journey—how enlightening, how enriching, how transforming—is a function of the brand vision, and the brand imagination behind it. A superficial brand might take customers as far as the cash register. A deeply engaging brand takes customers to a whole new world.
A journey beyond brand patterns
Too many brands are built to industry patterns of what a brand should be, or to preconceptions of how docile “consumers” should behave. Patterns are made to be copied, and such brands soon look and act like one another. They express a desire to sell to one-dimensional buyers. The result of all these copies isn’t “choice.” It’s boredom. And that’s where the brand journey steps in.
Brand builders create the brand journey
It’s the job of brand builders to plot the customer journey that their brand provides. What truths can the brand journey reveal? What frontiers does the journey explore? What depths does it plumb? What’s the spirit? The tone? The texture? All these questions, and many more, dance across the brand builder’s map. In a brand journey we explore the art of positioning the customer, not the brand.
The brand journey is a creative act
The brand journey is a creative act: for the brand, and for customers. It can’t be extracted from business routine. It isn’t scaled up from transactions. And it isn’t mapped out by third-party campaigns. The journey is first person and it’s immersive. It begins by asking a set of questions critical to the immersive brand itself.
Brand journeys are joint ventures
Brand journeys are joint ventures where brands and customers interact to advance one another. They’re dialogs tuned to new experience and to emergent truths. As they unfold they connect customers to themselves, and to one another, sometimes through the brand, and sometimes beyond it. Interesting brand journeys ask questions: Why take the journey at all? The brand will have the answer. Absorbing journeys take risks. Anything is possible.
Develop a “journey reel” for your brand
Thanks to recent advances digital imaging, a brand can now visually represent the kind of unique journey it offers. This can take the form of the “journey reel,” a metaphoric and interpretive expression of the brand journey using the powers of motion video, animation and digital imagery. The journey reel lays out the kinds of adventures and experiences (and mysteries) that await. The journey reel itself is part of that experience.
Not a sales pitch
A journey reel is not a promo or a sales pitch. It’s neither selling nor telling. It’s the expression of a brand’s self awareness, its culture, drive and direction, and where it might take customers. It’s the brand identity set in motion, running on customer feet.
Visual elements of a journey reel
What might a journey reel look like? There are some themes and visual cues in this short animation demo reel by Alphonse Swinehart. I stumbled across this by accident, and it is not about brands per se, and certainly not intended as a journey reel. But its creativity is provocative. (A brazen brand might do a flip book, but that’s another story.)
Journey reels promise to be a new art form, compact and compelling. As I come across expressive elements that might work in a journey reel context, I’ll post them here.
A series of reels rather than one
A journey reel must start somewhere, but a brand that’s going places with its customers will not let the journey reel stop. It will conceive its journey reels as a series, or as sets, building one upon the other.
The journey reel is personal, portable and persistent
I’d imagine that the best channels for journey reels would be those most intimate and personal to customers. That means an iPhone, iTouch, PDA or something similar, downloaded from the Net. A journey reel is made to accompany the customer: portable, personal and persistent. And it’s made to be shared.
Brand journeys mixed and remixed
Of course, customers can record their journeys, too. Brand journeys become customer journeys. All can be playing on digital devices around the world, shared, mixed and remixed in a matter of minutes. When your brand connects, brand journeys mingle.