Trends Report

Less than 10 mins

Own Your Customer Connectivity

In today’s ever more fragmented and fractious world, establishing meaningful, long-term customer relationships is harder than ever.

So how does a business make its mark? Land a genuine connection with customers, existing and new? Then take them with you as you build loyalty and advocacy.

In our experience, surfacing the connection between great design and people-centric inspiration is all about creating emotional connections with your customers. Connections that, if you get them right, your customers will-explicitly associate with your brand.

What we like to call ‘ownable connectivity’. 

Physical experiences are particularly effective at making these connections. Inspiring a primal response that snaps people out of their digital daydreams, and generates a pure, personal reaction. Quite simply, other channels simply cannot replicate these responses in the same way.

Using some of the world’s most successful brand examples, here’s a guide to ‘Ownable Connectivity’ and how you can utilise their learnings to own your own future proof customer relationships.

RealityBites / Get Physical

In spite of many opinions concerning promotion and advertising, customers are actually happy to connect with certain brands; over 76% said that this connection directly impacts their decisions to purchase from a particular brand.

At the heart of any brand relationship is positivity, as good experiences build these connections and stimulate recommendations, increasing advocacy, awareness and potential to purchase from existing fans and new customers alike.

Which is why the physical will always trump the digital when it comes to putting your brand front and centre. Simply creating a physical experience isn’t enough; there must be a logical, obvious or familiar link to who you are and what you stand for.

As well as being accessible and memorable, building physical brand experiences are an opportunity to create resonance and joy, providing moments of lightness in an otherwise often stressful life.

Get this right, and it can act as a compelling springboard for powerful and unique long-term relationships.


Owning& Connecting


Companies use ‘brand identifiers’ to build unique customer connections, which lets them ‘dial up’ the recognition within their physical channels to create a special branded experience that embodies that brand theme.

A great, fast-track way for you to figure out your own ‘brand identifier’ is to explore how other brands are using theirs; unpacking what resonates between the brand and the consumer, and what you have that you can leverage within your physical experiences.

Here are a few of our favourites:


In favour of flavour


Image courtesy of Coa-Cola


Coca Cola straddles both taste and design, thanks to the flavour some fizzy drink and their timeless red and white logo.

To entice and delight today’s audiences, the company encourages customers to physically try the product and taste first-hand in stylish flagship tasting bars, bringing that iconic effervescent taste sensation to life in a memorably immersive experience. Personalised bottles from smart vending machines also add a hyper-real connection to share.

Thinking beyond fizz and fun, Coke also has its own range of wearable sand brand stash, giving the brand a separate, cooler cult following. Together, these real-world experiences continue to keep the Coca-Cola archetypes at the fore of customers’ minds.

Image courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat

The UK boutique premium chocolate retailer has gone all out on exploring taste across their brand experience, starting with their stores and extending this over time to their entire product ecosystem. The chocolate shops themselves are accompanied with cafes, to offer the ultimate full Hotel Chocolat taste experience.

What distinguished them from other high street brands is their commitment to bringing their premium brand values into their customers’ homes, in the shape of the ‘Velvetiser’.

This sophisticated hot chocolate making device has an almost cult-like following; created by award-winning product designers and crafted as an object of desire at home that turns the simple making of a cup of chocolate into a‘moment’.

Their product range is extensive as well as educational – treating chocolate in the manner of fine wine, yet making this super-accessible, allowing customers to explore taste based on preference and occasion.  

Let’s Play


Image courtesy of Lego


No one does play better than Lego. Their stores have been ‘built’ with one thing in mind - to encourage everyone, children and adults alike, to explore, create and enjoy playing. 

Even though playing with Lego is an intrinsically personal experience(follow the instructions or make your own?) the in-store product displays take this one step further, encouraging even greater personalisation and playful invention.



‘If you have a body, you are an athlete.’ As a brand who embodies inclusivity, Nike brings inspiration and innovation to every ‘athlete’.

By building a ‘play first’ space that allows everyone to interact with the product through play, Nike has essentially built a living, breathing execution of the brand manifesto.

Their first inclusive experience-driven retail stores are a haven and must-visit destination for fans of the brand where they can explore, play and discover, at their own pace.


Get connected

Image courtesy of Wagamama 


With long benches and tables, this restaurant experience is designed around encouraging people to come and dine ‘together’ in an informal, ad hoc way, forcing connections between people, even those that don’t know each other.

Wagamama’s social dining style blazed a trail when it launched in the early 1990’s and has subsequently been adopted by other brands as a fast yet familiar way to operate a restaurant.

Food arrives when it’s ready, thereby breaking up the archetypal ‘courses’, providing conversation starters and allowing the conversations to flow without being broken by formal service methods.


Image courtesy of Wildhive


This luxurious hotel in Derbyshire is a great example of building your whole purpose around a core theme, rather than simply paying lip service to brand language.

The owners encourage people to connect with one another, using nature as the medium, providing outdoor seating areas that can host private events or dinners, bringing nature inside through huge windows and considered indoor spaces.

This connection with nature gives them a real point of difference, and Wild hive does it in such a way that it never feels to kinetic or worthy, it just feels like a natural extension of their ethos.



Image courtesy of Vans



Skate innovators Vans have carved their own niche, bringing raw skate culture to the high street, attracting new customers without alienating their original core demographic, the skaters.

Vans’ retail stores intrinsically link with skateparks, providing a showcase for their unique and distinctive checkerboard pattern – an icon within the skate scene and, arguably, a cultural icon

These physical experiences are a mecca for skate enthusiasts, teaming up with established  and emerging artists and bringing them in-store to create bespoke artwork linked to the world of skating.


Image courtesy of JackDaniel’s Tennessee


JackDaniel’s Tennessee Honey Art Beats & Lyrics

Celebrating its 20th year on the road, this travelling urban art and music exhibition first started as a local art show in Atlanta and was historically embedded in the community to unite and provide a platform for upcoming and seasoned veterans from both the visual art and hip-hop sphere.  

By focusing on supporting visionary artists and musicians who share JackDaniel’s values of authenticity, creativity, and individuality, these uniquely curated showcases blur the line between artist and audience, and have had featured performances from the likes of kendrick lamar, rapsody, mannie fresh, scarface, and bun b.

Attendees are invited to interact, celebrate and enjoy visual art from across the country in the midst of special musical performances from national recording artists, all while enjoying signature Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey cocktails.




How can we design experiences that link brands or people to some thing that exists simply to create a moment of jaw dropping “wow”?


Image courtesy of GentleMonster


Redefining ‘specs appeal’, Gentle Monster might not look like your standard optician, instead creating stores that embrace interactive and immersive storytelling. 

This new perspective is defining their brand legacy, one that creates conversational capital while building global connections.

Their stores have become destinations in their own rights, enjoyed by people exploring the narratives and viewing them as art installations that dazzle and inspire.


Image courtesy of The Sphere


The Sphere in Vegas is an awe inspiring experience like no other, designed to make everyone simply go ‘WOW’. Featuring 580,000 sq feet of LEDs, this creative canvas is so bold and bright you can see it from space!

Surrounded by screens, both inside and out, this superlative inducing ball will have people’s hearts beating faster, phone cameras permanently out and storytelling lasting for a legacy.

This is pure unadulterated joy, delivered in the most dramatic way on the biggest scale, simply to induce wonder. What better way to create memories!



Own YourFuture?


As you can see, whether they’re established global icons continuing to maintain their status, or plucky enterprises propelling their own brand narrative in cool attractive ways, brands are always finding new ways for customers to align with their brand identifiers.

So what’s your next step? What does your Ownable Connectivity look like?

Figure this out and who knows? Perhaps you too can instigate fear in your competitors and wonder in your customers…




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