Creating intimacy

What does it mean to get ‘personal’ within branded experiences? More importantly, what does it mean to become ‘intimate’? We see a big difference between the two.


Over the past few years event specialists, marketers and agencies have heralded the area of ‘personalisation’, where big data, tech and profiling has created detailed personas and guidelines on how to treat the people visiting a space. Bring it forward to the present day and it’s no longer enough to adopt the ‘personalised’ approach. Using customer cohorts based on age or gender, judging customers by whether they’re a “millennial” or “baby-boomer”. All have become irrelevant. Failing to provide event-marketing teams what they need to really get under the skin of an audience.

Rather than throwing random marketing messages out to a ‘cohort’, true intimacy with an audience requires brands to be quiet. To listen and create a subtle, more intuitive environment where visitors can lean-in to the experience and embrace the values on offer. A place where an audience can be romanced, their true intentions understood and the product solutions that they need offered.

By creating the type of experience where a visitor is able to absorb the values of a brand simply from being within its space. This experience rarely calls for punchy advertising or gimmicky ploys to impress. It embraces the psychology, science and sense elements that come in to an experience. Allowing the visitor to be pleasurably impressed without even really knowing why. Allowing them to absorb the brand values and messaging without having to be told.

In an era where to be human is to be bombarded by a plethora of ads, sales messages and pulls on attention, brands need to tap into emotion and thought. They need to become more present in the moment and find out what the visitor needs. Listening, exploring and coming to conclusions together instead of talking, pushing and selling.

One way many brands are creating intimacy is through more emotive messaging and experiences. To celebrate its 10-year anniversary, Twitter created the hashtag ‘#LoveTwitter’ with a small Twitter and heart emoji, sending an email to each of its users and an emotive video detailing big moments across the channel. At Wimbledon last Summer, Jaguar created the #FeelWimbledon hashtag, using in-ground atmospheric sensors and global sentiment tracking to find out how the spectators felt and measure their emotional state. Within branded experiences, these types of technologies, designs and experiences allow brands to tune in to an individual’s mood or mindset.

In B2B branded experiences, perhaps this is through the blend of white on wood, or a cold drink held between hot hands while the visitor sits at the bar. Offering a calm oasis where they can just be within the halls of a pilled-high exhibition hall. At Mobile World Congress this year, our client ARM did just that. Creating success that was based on meaningful conversation, a space that people didn’t want to leave (the stand wasn’t empty for a moment) and technology that was led by human thought and experience rather than products and sales pitches.

When a brand experience team thinks about intimacy, they are able to create true intentions that tap into how the audience feels. This guides learning on how visitors can be romanced within a live space, offering products or services that they might be open to exploring. The idea of showcasing the company craft rather than the novelty of what they can do, carefully laid out within a branded experience over a few days.

After so many years of brands being told to strip away emotion, to exude business, professionalism and product, product, product, the time has come to return to intimacy. Using more personality, not less, in both B2B and B2C in order to tap into an audience and create something truly intimate.


Written by Suzanne Malhotra