Muse of the month: What turns an ‘experience’ into an ‘engagement’?

Posted by: Line Up on November 21st, 2014 IN Experiential marketing

Welcome back to ‘Muse of the month’, our new outlet for passing on our thoughts, views and opinions on anything that is particularly trending or topical.  This month at Line Up HQ we’ve been talking about exactly what it is that turns an ‘experience’ into an ‘engagement’.  What’s the secret ingredient, if indeed there is one, and how do we ensure that we are always maximizing every opportunity to engage.

To try to get to the bottom of this particular Holy Grail, Crane’s Eye View talks to 3 Line Up specialists for their expertise and opinion.

Rob Leach, Managing Director, on taking the long-term view…

For me the answer to this question depends on what ‘experience’ means to you.  To some it might suggest a one-off event, something that happens at a given moment in time.  If you fall into this camp, you might separate an event in your mind from the campaign that exists around it.

For me however, experience is a cumulative process – we build on our experiences as we go through life.  Experience evolves over the long-term and a brand experience is the cumulative effect of a multi-faceted campaign – not just the take-out of an event that may be a part of it.

Engagement is also a word that evokes the long-term.  It conveys a duality in which stakeholders play on equal terms.  A relationship that involves trust, respect and longevity.  And of course, engagements can be broken suggesting the need to work hard at a relationship.

The relationship between brand and consumer (or organization and stakeholder in the B2B context) depends on both experience and engagement and the two are inextricably intertwined. Whilst brands have to continually deliver an experience to consumers (in fact, ownership these days is secondary to the experience if you look at brands like Spotify), they must also engage.

They must break through the mass messaging in people’s lives by perfecting that fine balance between getting personal without impinging on personal space.  And these days it is certainly a two-way relationship – the consumer has more control than ever before.

Neil Thompson, Creative Director, on immersive environments…..

As human beings we can experience things in many ways – we have 5 senses and can appreciate things on different dimensions.  For me, you are likely to get closer to truly engaging an audience when you are challenging them to use several of their senses and immersing them in the experience.

So when I’m creating an environment, I tend to think 3D and multi-sensory.

At a recent event for Volvo we wanted to create a sensory reception space that would evoke a Swedish midsummer meadow.  We laid grass inside a temporary structure with a forest of large real silver birch trees and projected leaf textures across the canopy to enhance the sense of a landscape; guests were greeted with the sound of birdsong as they were offered a glass of champagne.  They were able to touch, smell, hear and, more importantly, interact with the environment.


When briefed to create a desert island environment for the Abu Dhabi Tourism Office at WTM, I knew that creating something obvious in a competitive footfall environment wouldn’t cut the mustard.  I wanted to immerse delegates in a unique space that would evoke blue skies, sandy desert and unbelievable sunsets without being explicit.  Challenging their senses to create the link.  So I devised a shimmering mirage from hanging strands of nylon, which visitors could interact with.  This was lit alternately with bright oranges and reds from which one could almost feel the heat, contrasting with cooling sea blues and aquas.  This walk-in environment became an oasis of tranquility and a genuine refuge from the busy exhibition.

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We ‘experience’ everything that we do in life.  We experience putting one foot in front of the other when we walk but we don’t remember it or even really think about it.  However, when we truly engage with something, we are using our senses on many levels and committing the experience to memory.

Stuart Grahame, Content Producer, on the importance of content that connects emotionally…

For me an experience becomes an engagement when you succeed in connecting emotionally with your audience.

When it comes to creating content, whether it’s for a B2C or B2B audience, this should be a key driver.  People are moved by emotion, and it’s this emotion that will create empathy and memorability for your brand and message.

Always remember that brand engagement is a journey and on every stage of the journey you need to consider these four ‘i’s’ – immersion, interactivity, integration and impact.  Applying these principles to every content journey will help you to develop touch points with stronger emotional connections.

So, three viewpoints from three Line Up experts but with essentially one very central message.  To truly engage your audience you must immerse them in your world, capture their imagination with a good story, appeal to their emotions and, perhaps most importantly, commit to a long-term, two-way relationship.

Do you agree with our panel?  We’d love to hear your views on what makes an effective ‘engagement’.

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Line Up

Line Up is an award-winning, creative communications agency, headquartered in London. We create engaging live and digital brand experiences for internal and external audiences all over the world.

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