by Christian Lachel
As seen on Forbes
Twenty-first-century marketers face new challenges. The world is changing, and conventional methods of marketing are evolving quickly. Slapping your logo on a tent is no longer enough to engage younger consumers. Sure, they’ll take your free giveaways, but that is not enough to bond, connect and deepen loyalty.
The most successful marketers are creating emotional-based experiences so powerful that they transform customers from casual observers to passionate, committed fans. In the transformational model, marketers use the same powerful tools that artists, filmmakers, novelists and musicians use, taking people on emotional, multi-sensory journeys that create a sense of magical drama to connect the audience with the heart of the story.
On a recent trip to Europe, I had the good fortune to tour the museum exhibition, "Pink Floyd’s 'Their Mortal Remains,'" at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. Prior to visiting, I was a casual Pink Floyd fan at best. Sure, I’ve listened to The Dark Side of the Moon with my head buried between large speakers in my parents' basement. But these were moments, not fandom.
Here are four principles of transformation that businesses can adopt from the Pink Floyd experience:
Know Your Story And Tell It With Laser Focus
This sounds simple. It isn’t. Every organization and business needs to have its own brand story that reflects its values, culture and people. When done well, the core narrative casts the customer as the hero in the story.
The Pink Floyd story has hundreds of entry points, thousands of angles and a ton of stories. So what’s it about? What makes it hang together? What makes it important to visitors? The challenge of this exhibit was to drill down the essence of the story, discovering the core truth of what made Pink Floyd special across multiple decades.
The theme of this exhibition was "innovative creativity," and it followed Pink Floyd’s relentless quest to push musical boundaries, develop their sound and break through to the new. From their psychedelic beginnings to the unique sound production of The Dark Side of Moon, and the progressive resurgence of songs like Learning to Fly, this theme allowed the storytellers to show the messiness, darkness and inspiring spark of the creative process.
Touch Emotions And Fill The Senses
Emotional connections are more meaningful and enduring, leading to deeper customer loyalty, better word-of-mouth and greater ROI.
“Their Mortal Remains” invited guests to take a deeper dive into their love for the band. Some of the story spaces were oversized and theatrical, like the stage set of a concert. Stepping into these environments stimulated your senses and connected you more deeply to the story.
Informative two to three minute, beautifully edited videos preceded each album gallery and collection, giving vital meaning and context to the dozens of personal items belonging to the band. These included the cane that Roger Waters' headmaster beat him with in the 1982 movie, The Wall, as well as jaw-dropping three-dimensional representations of Pink Floyd’s famous album covers.
Other emotional high points included the music itself. The exhibit was sonically complete and layered, providing insights into the ever-evolving music style of the band, driven by creativity and innovative exploration. I actually teared up listening to the story of Wish You Were Here. The acoustic-led instrumentation, thought-provoking lyrics and sound effects all worked together to create an emotional narrative that seems as eerily relevant today as it did the day it was recorded.
Brands need to think similarly about how they can create customer experiences that engage all five senses.
Every brand wants to know and understand what motivates their target audiences. The beauty of creating experiences like “Their Mortal Remains” is that it resonated with different audiences for different reasons. The lesson here is that brands need to find ways to make their customers feel like they are part of the story. Go beyond cursory interaction and create opportunities to bond and connect with your customers.
The Pink Floyd exhibit attracted every generation, from gray-haired Boomers to their middle-aged children and young grandchildren. This allowed the exhibit makers to reveal the genius of Pink Floyd: Every family member was fascinated by the brand’s creative process. Each member of the three generations had an opportunity to share personal experiences and insights and learn from others in their groups. The story of the band became a trans-generational and multifaceted personal story for every guest, and it just worked brilliantly.
Music As Marketing
Taking a cue from Pink Floyd, brands can use music as the cornerstone of their sound identity. Some of the most iconic marketing efforts rely on their music to instantly connect with consumers in a deeply auditory manner. Think James Bond, Star Wars or McDonald’s I’m Lovin’ It jingle.
Naturally, “Their Mortal Remains” uses music throughout the experience to transport visitors and conjure memories and moments. The climax of the show, which took place inside an immersive 360-degree space with lasers and other lighting effects, perfectly aligned with what audiences have come to know from the band.
I expected to breeze through this exhibit in two hours or less. I was there for three hours, which felt like 45 minutes. That’s because Pink Floyd has always been more than a musical act. The band has created memorable experiences that live in the minds of fans long after the concert or tour has ended. In this way, it has become a brand that celebrates creativity and endures.
For marketers looking to create transformational experiences that connect deeply with consumers, “Their Mortal Remains” is a model for building authentic, two-way connections that resonate with audiences, transforming the way visitors think, feel and act. By connecting with customers on an emotional level, companies can transform casual users into true brand fans. For me, this exhibit was transformational, and that’s what we’re all hoping to do -- to create experiences that move us and deepen our connection to the things we love.