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‘Brand Nirvana: Closing the Human Experience Gap’

Our research paper has now launched, to download the full report click here.


Have you noticed that the world is obsessed with the customer? The customer is always right. Customer is king. Customer service. Customer journey. Customer-centricity. And, of course, ‘the customer experience’, any self-respecting company’s number one priority.


It all comes from a good place. Everyone’s trying to do their best for the people who buy their products, use their services and consume their content. But perhaps everyone’s got it wrong. Perhaps this relentless focus on the c-word has lost sight of what’s behind it – a human.


There’s a famous saying that if a person spoke to you in the way advertising does, you’d punch them in the face. Rather than smile and brush this sentiment off, it’s worth considering what’s behind it: people don’t necessarily want to be spoken to like a “customer” – they want to be engaged with as the living, breathing, well-rounded human beings they are.


This is where things can start to go wrong in the communication and marketing industries. Reducing a target audience to the term “customer” strongly influences the way brand custodians behave. Nowadays, few relationships with brands or services exist solely in the moment of consumption.  Only thinking, talking and pursuing people as the transaction they might make, as faceless figures with credit cards and pound signs over their heads, means brands and clients will only ever be sellers and the audience will only ever be buyers.


We’re missing a trick here. These people are so much more than “buyers”. They have full and active lives, of which they’re only spending money for a small percentage of time. Yet this is where brands choose to spend the majority of their communication budgets.


The rest of the time the audience is participating in culture, feeling human emotions such as love and excitement at best, and frustration and anxiety at worst. If brands can speak directly to these moments – with insight and empathy – they can become more than a seller and start to play a more meaningful role in their audience’s lives.


Imagine then if we all started seeing and empathising with ‘customers’ as human beings and equipping brands with more human characteristics? There’s a very simple way to do this: upgrade ‘customer experience’ to ‘human experience’ switching out ‘CX’ for ‘HX’. This simple move can open up a completely new way of communicating.


But it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve reset the way you refer to your target audience, you can start to think about how this will affect the way you behave. What does a “human-centric” brand look like? What kinds of things does it do? Where and how is it distributed and who does it partner with?


We have long embraced this kind of thinking at Karmarama but we’ve decided to test it out – find the true value of treating people as humans rather than customers and distil tangible steps to do so.


With a little help from our friends at Accenture Research, we’ve made an interesting discovery: brands that demonstrate more human-like behaviours and treat their audience more like humans than customers, create such strong emotional bonds with people that they become irreplaceable – a highly-preferred necessity that people desire, often irrationally, and are even willing to forgive when things go wrong.


However, our research also shows that many brands and businesses still aren’t getting it right, with a significant number of people still feeling like they are being treated transactionally rather than cared about as a person.


As we’ll see it doesn’t have to be this way. Through a variety of research techniques, we have identified the eight steps necessary to get to a more empathetic, near transcendental state that we’ve called “Brand Nirvana”.


Our research is to launch this September, this document has been designed to guide you through the eight steps to enlightenment, so you can elevate your thinking, your brand and its performance…because the customer is dead, so long live the human being.


Ahead of this, if you want to hear more about HX, and how you could apply human experience thinking to your brand– please do get in touch at [email protected]


Karmarama is the UK’s most progressive creative agency, part of Accenture Interactive, working across advertising, PR, data-driven communications, mobile platforms and products, digital and innovation. The agency is known for its ability to blend creativity, digital and data, to help brands better engage with consumers. Or as Karmarama calls it – Connected Creativity. It is one of the most effective agencies in the UK and has won the DMA Grand Prix for the last two successive years, in 2017 for its work for the Army. It was again the highest ranked creative agency in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For in 2018.