Nov 17, 2017

Designing for Consumer Connections

3 things brands need to know.

While brands used to be defined by a simple mark, a specific product, or an engaging advertising campaign, the proliferation of digital technology has enabled consumers all over the world to connect with their favorite brands in real-time, across multiple platforms, in new and ever-evolving ways.

For our clients, understanding how these consumer-brand connections may affect their future is what keeps them up at night, and it’s our job to help. Here are just some of the ways that brands are shifting the landscape of consumer experiences, as well as some opportunity areas for brands that are still looking to grow their experiential muscle.

1.) Your competition is online

While holding out on a digital strategy and selectively choosing your social channels may have worked for a while, consumers now expect their favorite brands to have a presence online. It’s also worth considering that much of your competition may be (or is soon-to-be) online in the form of direct to consumer goods. As a result, make sure to include digital in your design strategy, not just as a simple sales channel, but to develop unique online brand experiences and build more personalized relationships.

Purina Beyond E-commerce
While Purina Beyond had historically been a brand bought in person, in a physical store, when the company saw an uptick in e-commerce orders, they decided to adjust their design strategy to match. While most e-commerce packages come in a plain brown box, Purina created a unique product, package and unboxing experience specifically for their e-commerce shoppers, including some specifically formulated small batch products that are unique to this channel. The resulting design ensures that consumers receive an unexpected and delightful Purina experience on their doorstep every time they buy their favorite pet-food online.

On the flip-side, Away is a direct to consumer luggage company that makes one thing: luggage. While they do this well, being online only could also mean missing interaction time with consumers. To help solve this, Away connects with consumers in unique ways - they launched an add-on that offers buyers personalized monograms on their luggage, hand-painted by NY artists (personal touch, anyone?). Special pop-ups such as their recent partnership to launch a pop-up hotel at the Amastan in Paris for fashion week allows shoppers to experience the brand in its intended environment.

2.) Salesmanship isn’t always about selling

Because consumers are increasingly looking for brands that feel human, that means that brands need to tone down their transactional nature significantly in order to gain trust. In fact, sometimes one of the strongest ways to raise awareness for your brand and create value for your consumer is not to sell a thing.

Lean Cuisine
An oldie but a goodie. Back in 2015, as trends were leading away from weight loss and focusing more on strength, nutrition and health, Lean Cuisine pivoted from a diet company to a modern health food brand. To help elevate this messaging, they launched a social campaign called #weighthis, showing women near a scale. Instead of asking them to weigh their bodies, women were asked how else they’d like to be weighed - in their personal accomplishments, acts of kindness etc. No food was served alongside this campaign, and yet it helped catapult Lean Cuisine back into the CPG running, this time as a health food brand.

To mark its new 90 series range of cars, Volvo create a series of videos called “Human Made Stories.” They featured tenacious people, determined to solve challenges to problems in new ways. The films are beautiful, personal and have nothing to do with cars. A Volvo may appear in a frame or two of each, but the content is immersive and inspirational. The goal was to align their brand with the values of their target consumer to strengthen or create a compelling emotional bond.

3.) The lines are blurring

Possibly one of the hardest parts of experiential branding these days is that brands are blurring the lines between their product, their personality and their consumer. Brands are living, breathing entities and the best ones behave like individuals too; passionate, relatable, and often unpredictable. The strongest brand experiences this year all took some pretty significant liberties, stretching the boundaries of their offering to make experiences feel unique, desirable and differentiated. Word to the wise however, if you stretch anything too far, it will break, so make sure that you always keep your core consumer in mind.

Nordstrom has just announced that they will be rolling out a series of experiential stores that won’t actually stock merchandise. Instead, consumers will be encouraged to interface with personal shoppers who can help them curate clothes from other stores or online and try out services and experiences that traditionally live at the periphery of
consumers shopping habits, like manicures, tailoring and even food and beverage.

While Ford is technically a car company, it’s no longer acting like one. Instead, Ford’s new CEO says that the future of Ford is mobility, which is more about moving people around then about vehicles. Next on Ford’s list of mobility challenges to tackle? Parking, public transport and bikes. This shift in business focus suggests that Ford, any companies like it may strongly influence not just what we buy in the future, but how we live.

Ultimately, we’re just beginning to tap into the potential for brands to design for consumer connection. And while many retailers and brands are struggling to keep up, others are using the shift as a catalyst to prioritize the needs of their shoppers. For example, when WholeFoods and Amazon joined arms, it changed the game for both companies and set a whole industry on edge. And while we don’t know exactly what that future looks like for either business, what we do know is that merger was a result of both companies being willing to take a business model risk in order to prioritize the needs of their consumers, and that’s worth paying attention to.

If there’s anything we tell our clients as they’re defining their own digital and experiential strategies, it’s that taking risks in the interest of your consumers is vital to staying ahead of the curve. And as long as you keep the 3 principles above in mind, those risks very often pay off in the form of brand loyalty.

Authored by CBA North America Managing Partner - Elainne Roberton

Image via



San Francisco
360 Pine Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

New York
276 5th Avenue, Suite 305
New York, NY 10001

© 2018 All Rights Reserved


San Francisco +1 (415) 339 4220
New York+1 (646) 793 3800

New Business Inquiries

Follow us on

CBA is part of a global network with offices in San Francisco, New York and around the world.

CBA Global en
CBA France FR / EN
CBA Italy IT / EN
CBA Spain ES
CBA Turkey EN
CBA Middle East EN
CBA Asia Pacific EN
CBA North America EN
CBA Latin America EN

Type your search and hit return


First Name

Last Name

Email address

You will need to confirm your address to activate your subscription
By clicking “Subscribe Now” you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy.

Terms and conditions

This site is edited by:
CBA Paris
SASU with a capital of 1 150 000€
RCS Paris Headquarters : 96 rue Edouard Vaillant, 92 300 Levallois-Perret, France Tél : 01 40 54 09 00

Director of Publication: Louis Collinet

This website was developed by:
CB’A Srl
Headquarters: via Lecce 4, 20136 – Milan, Italy

The information displayed on this site concerns all CBA Paris entities. These companies are referred to hereafter by the name « CBA Group ».

Property rights

All data, text, information, images, photography, videos or any other content shared on this website are protected by copyright. Any reproduction, representation, use or adaptation, whatever the form, of all or any element of this site without the written consent of CBA Group will be considered as a counterfeit act and falls under the penalties of Intellectual Property Code.

Brand copyright
All named and logotyped brands, and other distinctive signs, which appear on this website are CBA Group’s property and / or of their clients. Consequently, any reproduction or representation, and any use of these distinctive signs is prohibited, except with the written consent of their owners.

Link generation to
The website allows the set up of a hypertext link pointing towards its content, except using the technique of « deep linking », i.e the pages of should not be integrated within another website’s pages, but should be accessible through the opening of a new window.
This authorization does not apply in any case to websites displaying controversial, pornographic, or xenophobic information or which could harm sensibility or cause public disorder.

Website editor’s responsibility

Website content:

CBA Group has attempted to ensure the accuracy and the update of the information contained on this website ; CBA Group reserves the right to amend, at any time and without notice, the content. However, CBA Group cannot guarantee the accuracy, the precision or the comprehensiveness of the information carried on this website.

Website access:
CBA Group companies cannot be held liable for any incovenience or damages related to the general use of the Internet, notably in case of service breakdown, external intrusion, downloaded viruses, or damages caused to the equipment or software which would be linked to the use of this website.

Links to other sites:
The site might include links to other Internet websites. Given that CBA Group can’t control these sites, CBA Group cannot bear responsibility for their contents, advertisments, products, services or any other material available on or from these websites. Moreover, CBA Group cannot be held responsible for any damages or loss related to a trust relationship relating to the content, goods or services available on these sites. Privacy policy Visitors are made aware that all personal date collected on this website are automatically processed. Data collected are kept confidential and are for the exclusive use of members and services of CBA Group.
These personal data fall under the dispositions of law « Informatique et Libertés » of January 6, 1978. It is understood that the visitor is given a right of access, amendment or deletion of any personal data related to them, by sending a letter to :
CBA Fabien Godimus
96 rue Edouard Vaillant
92300 Levallois-Perret
or by sending an email to