The Element of Surprise: IKEA's Brand Experience
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Over the years, I’ve admired IKEA’s ability to consistently create unique experiences that engage consumers in unexpected ways. IKEA has a knack for showing rather than telling.
When IKEA wants to emphasize its efficient and ergonomic designs for small urban spaces, they take their story to the streets:
To convey its quirky, offbeat personality, IKEA masterfully creates playful disruptions to our daily routines at the bus stop...
Or on the train....
Or helping consumers commute to a newly opened location via a “couch taxi”...
And sometimes, IKEA just surprises us with delightfully goofy, borderline unpronounceable names. One has to wonder if the occasional “lost in translation” issues with their product names are intentional. Perhaps it's just me, but this one seems like our Swedish friends are having some fun with us:
Of course, this means “Exit” in Swedish, which is quite fitting, I suppose. So who knows?
Even though I’ve been a longtime fan of the brand and shopped online, until yesterday I’d never actually visited a brick-and-mortar location. And IKEA didn’t disappoint. To battle negative perceptions regarding quality, IKEA took the product testing lab to the consumer to show rather than merely tell its customers it takes quality seriously:
A wooden posterior attached to pneumatic mechanical arms simulated a person plopping down in the chair over, and over, and over...33,381 times when I took this photo:
The sound of the pneumatic press activating and releasing repeatedly created curiosity, and virtually everyone who ventured past took note. And if the visual story wasn’t powerful enough, a small plaque told it with words:
IKEA is one of the best examples of how brands can weave a powerful, memorable narrative by immersing consumers in unique, brand-relevant experiences. I’m looking forward to being förvånad next time I visit the store. (And maybe our Swedish clientele can let me know how badly I just butchered their language).