How to identify, build and deliver your brand moments

Reading Time: 5 minutes

One of the great ironies, and frustrations, for many brands is that reputation must be built over years, but can be lost in a tiny fraction of that time – seconds. All because of an action or a word, a misunderstanding or an expectation that may or may not even have been reasonable in the first place. You can live with this frustration, or you can plan for it. And the best way to do that is recognising how to identify, build and deliver your brand moments.

Everything happens in moments

There will always be that apparent double time-frame between how long it takes to build a brand into an asset, and the experience-time within which many brands are judged.

An instance.

Some people of course will see such a dichotomy as an exercise in futility – all that work, always at risk, capable of going with almost no notice. But building brands is not a Sisyphean task. And here’s why. Loyalty accumulates in exactly the same way – in many of those very same moments across another very long time-frame. Customers decide to be loyal on the basis of criteria that occur in seconds and that are as simple, small and whimsical as the decisions they make the other way.

That’s why brands are no longer about big, clearly signposted “moments of truth” and much more about “moments”, or more particularly the truth in moments for a customer.

And the success for a brand in each of those moments is decided by two things: the action the brand takes; and the reaction that action stimulates.

Identifying different types of brand moments

We tend to think of brand moments as just being experiential, but of course there are plenty of other types of moment that can and do occur across the life of a brand. Some are driven from inside; some are in response to what others are doing or have said:

Pivotal moment: a point in time when a brand does something that indicates there is no going back. Something has changed, and from now on the brand will be defined (positively or negatively) by what has just occurred.

Signal moment: slightly different from a pivotal moment, in that this tends to be a change-of-message moment. In a signal moment, the brand instigates, shifts or clarifies messaging to evoke a response from either its fans, or its critics, or both.

Action moment: a brand either does something or activates something that shifts it from a passive contributor to an involved or endorsing party. This is a moment of brand commitment.

Crowd moment: powerful things happen when people congregate in large numbers. The visual impact of many people doing something, underpinned by a brand, can make for great news and extraordinary images.

Human moment: At the other end of the scale, brand moments can be singular, individual and evocative. They can elicit a response that works for that person at that time and makes them feel surprised and valued. Or they can deliver tenderness, empathy and kindness at a time when things feel particularly tough. These moments can be active or reactive.

No matter what brand moments you are mapping or delivering, the most important thing is that feel authentic for the person delivering the moment and for the receiver and they align with what everyone (internal and external) expects from the brand. A Red Bull moment should always be exciting. An Apple moment should always feel designed.

Different actions

That can get complicated. Different people working for different brands take different actions based on different criteria. Some decide intuitively, on that moment’s notice. They may choose on process. Or indifference. Their response could be to act generously, consistently, surprisingly or reluctantly. Some may not act at all.

With so many moments spread out across so many people over so many countries and so many channels on any given days, most brands would probably like each moment to exist where and as it happens. For years it did. A bad moment, for example, extended as far as the customer who didn’t like an action, and to the network of friends that they talked about that moment with. Impulse created penalties or rewards, but they were reasonably contained.

But actions and reactions are no longer contained. Because of course social media is made for, and perfectly timed in, moments. It has literally changed the very dynamics around which moments themselves are judged. It has uncontained them.

Just as media people plan every speech for what the soundbites will be, those creating moments (either spontaneously or planned) need to consciously think of how this will play on screens.

We put it this way: Assume everything is filmed, because chances are, it is.

Far-reaching reactions

Pressure and moments don’t always sit well. Customers expect people on the frontlines for brands to make faster and faster decisions. They want answers. Now. But the consequences of those immediate decisions can continue to play out over much bigger vistas.

In almost the time it takes to act, a customer can react. And the reactions generated in response to an action, any action, taken in the name of a brand can create ripples that extend as far as, often beyond, where the brand can see. They are visceral, uncensored, immediate … and cached forever.

What people experience can make your brand the talk of the world, or the recipient of some very bad feeling. They might also be manipulated, faked, re stacked, memed and so much more.

That in turn can have other far-reaching effects. Service is no longer just about what you do. It’s no longer just accountable to what you deliver delivered or when. Its success now pivots on what people say as well as the result. Because that’s where the exponential effect really kicks in – good or bad. The sobering question each of us must keep asking ourselves, even as we cram more and more into every day, is “What happens when I do/say this?”

Moments have never had greater leverage. Or carried greater risk.

Building in the value and the meaning

In this deliciously long piece on building associated memorable moments, strategist Paul Bailey observes that the rise of intangible value has raised the importance of brands, but it has also changed the control settings. Brands are now ‘shared cultural property’ that evolve dynamically over time. People can add value to a brand, he says, so it’s only natural that they feel a sense of it being shared property. “A brand is constantly being reshaped by the experiences people are having of it.”

This thought is gold: The value of a brand is in its shared and agreed meaning.

On that basis, it’s important to be aware not just of the brand, but also the meaning and the value for the brand when you are building brand moments. He advises:

  • Consciously link every moment to previous experiences;
  • Apply clear and distinctive brand codes so that the brand is always present;
  • Organise and source from a distinctive, owned and protected arsenal of brand assets;
  • Look to create new meaning at the same time as you reinforce historic associations – or, as we like to say at Audacity, “repeat and fascinate”;
  • If you’re looking to enable or continue a behaviour, follow the learnings from BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Model and motivate, enable and prompt that behaviour

Paul also makes an excellent point about how brand moments can help brands pursuing an emergent strategy: “Thinking in terms of moments in time allows for iteration and evolution of the brand.”

Delivering the moments people will remember

Brand moments won’t just happen by themselves. They may appear unprompted, but as Hannah Butler astutely points out, “Signature moments are not serendipitous … Only you could have done that. Only you would have thought to do that in this specific way.”

Hannah’s eight criteria for what it takes to deliver brand signature moments should be a Post-it on every brand manager’s wall. If you want to create moments that you can own, they need to be:

  • Original
  • Impactful
  • Memorable
  • Immortal
  • Extra
  • Shareable
  • Repeatable and
  • Scaleable

Before you identify, build and deliver your brand moments

We don’t specifically design, map or track brand moments. But we do create the defining aspects of a brand and the story which should form the basis for those moments. If your brand needs greater clarity around what moments would be on-brand, and which would not, a strategic session is a great way to quickly define what you need to stand for. If you need help with your story, we can craft a strategic narrative or your brand story. Please contact us.

Photo by rosario janza on Unsplash

One thought on “How to identify, build and deliver your brand moments

  1. Oh so thought provoking as always. Moments – this is why the overused and under-understood word ‘Authentic’ is creeping in everywhere. If you have to react in moments, you don’t have time to create appearances. You are what you are. What’s good about this is the empowerment of everyone in the organisation to be the brand manager – its also the risk. Fundamentally, social media should be changing organisational culture from one of command and control to one of ‘out of control but in command’, One of my pet topics as you know. Thanks Mark for adding to the buzz of my morning coffee.

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