Communications as Experience Design: Starbucks, Tim Hortons and BuzzFeed edition

TL;DR version.

Know your brand’s overarching meta-story. Align your communication, marketing and business development efforts with your brand’s core, and your goals as an organization. The rose blooms because it blooms. Innovate and forge ahead, not because you must, not because everyone else is doing it, but because that’s who you are and how you work.


Communications as Experience Design.

I’ll be doing a series of posts on why good communication equals experience design in the coming weeks. I have arrived at this understanding in my professional life, and it seems to be important enough to share.  I believe that communication can benefit organizations, when it’s done with clients/consumers in mind. When you truly align your business goals, your marketing and communications, traditional, digital and mobile, you win. I’ll start with this post, diving into some communication theory and how it applies in the real world.

Let me take you by the hand and, hopefully, show you where to look among the garbage and the flowers.

Brands are stories.

Every successful brand has a story – a meta-narrative, an archetypal plot that defines it. AdWeek counted seven, just recently. Whether you realize it or not, your brand’s meta-narrative has a huge effect on every decision, from marketing to business, because it sits deep in the very core.

Wikipedia defines Meta-narrative as a “global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience[12] – a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other “little stories” within conceptual models that make the stories into a whole.”

Case studies: Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Nike, Apple, and BuzzFeed edition.

Strong meta-narratives help everyone in the organization make choices. Whenever your organization is about to pursue a new direction, announce a new product, start a campaign or simply comment on something that’s in the news, ask yourself, how does this micro action support the overarching meta-narrative? Or, more simply, is it in line with your brand and what you stand for, what you represent.

Know your meta-story and, as Tara Hunt recently wrote, embrace your only-ness, your uniqueness.  We know about the power of stories in shaping beliefs. As communications and marketing professionals, we must make sure all the stories we craft and experiences we design every day don’t clash with the overarching brand story. That’s when we stop making sense. You don’t want to do that.

Most importantly, lets just have fun with it all.