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How Teju Aluko Redefines Brand Experience with Emotion

Written by:

Howard Tillerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Step By Step Business and an award-winning marketing professional.

How Teju Aluko Redefines Brand Experience with Emotion

In this interview, we sit down with Teju Aluko, chief experience officer at Branperience, to delve into the innovative world of experiential brand experience. Aluko, with her unique expertise and intuitive approach, sheds light on how emotion-led relationships are vital in shaping memorable brand experiences.

This discussion is a must-read for entrepreneurs, branding agencies, and anyone interested in understanding the transformative power of branding. Whether you’re running a small business or part of a larger organization, Aluko’s perspectives offer valuable insights into building lasting connections with your audience, elevating brand loyalty, and navigating the ever-evolving landscape of brand strategy.

Teju Aluko

Brand Experience Strategy

SBS – How do you differentiate your brand experience strategy from traditional marketing approaches?

Teju – Traditional marketing places emphasis on the functional features, aspects, and benefits of the products and services. However, our approach to experiential brand experiences emphasizes emotions and feelings as core principles for creating memorable brand experiences that capture and sustain stakeholder relationships, generating brand loyalists and advocates and sparking increased brand awareness, resulting in a profitable return on experience.

Emotion-Led Relationships

SBS – Can you describe how emotion-led relationships are developed and maintained with stakeholders?

Teju – For us, emotions and feelings are the first step in shaping what our relationships are built on, not by telling the brand stakeholders how to feel but by measuring what feelings and emotions need to be nurtured to sustain a relationship with them beyond transactions throughout our journey together. Emotions and feelings are responsible for 90% of the decisions we make — as science tells us — and are catalysts and components to something far more profitable — a rich and meaningful brand and stakeholder relationship. So, our relationships lead with emotion, contrary to most language that forces us to “stay out of our feelings” in all aspects of life, including the businesses we frequent.

The emotions and feelings involved are an important part of how the relationship is maintained. That sounds obvious because it is, yet it’s still not acknowledged. Emotion-led relationships require trust at the most basic level and sacrifice for the stakeholder’s benefit. As the relationship deepens, those relationships become more intimate and foster loyalty and advocacy — actions triggered by emotions and feelings. Our principle, “your brand, their experience,” embodies that and aids us in maintaining these emotion-led relationships for our stakeholders and their stakeholders.

Memorable Experiences

SBS – What are the key elements in creating a memorable brand experience for customers?

Teju – Key elements include consistency across touchpoints, effective communication, emotional connection, personalization, and stakeholder engagement and participation.

Stakeholder Journeys

SBS – How do you design and manage end-to-end stakeholder journeys?

Teju – We don’t look at brands as some strange siloed outside party. We understand that brands are an integrated part of our lives through experiences. This is why we use experiential as a principle instead of a marketing tool that captures leads through events, as some traditional strategic plans will tell you. Thus, this principle ensures that every aspect of the brand experience is immersive, personal, and emotionally fulfilling. Those are key elements of experiential marketing during any touchpoint within the business, which creates lasting memories and relationships that shape long-term advocacy behaviors and brand loyalty.

While sometimes this principle involves events, it falls under a broader strategy for us that extends beyond planned events and can operate independently. We use the core elements of experiential marketing — two-way communication, unique individual outcomes, brand associations + growing relationships, and time — as areas of focus throughout the entire end-to-end stakeholder journey experience, not just one area.

Brand Loyalty

SBS – What strategies do you employ to build and sustain brand loyalty?

Teju – Before developing strategies, we ensure everyone understands what loyalty is and why it happens. That is the first step in developing our experiential principles, which nurture brand loyalty.

Emotions play a critical role in shaping loyalty, and various factors like personal identity, shared values, and trust shape that emotional connection. The intent is always to align with their stakeholders’ core emotional needs, not capitalize on them. We need to align with them by identifying those needs and understanding which emotions will most likely align with their loyalty as we build the strategy of maintaining a relationship.

We sustain brand loyalty by strategically investing time and resources into understanding their stakeholder sentiments in conjunction with standard B2B metrics, such as net promoter score and churn. We focus on one primary type of sentiment — emotion detection through a machine-learning approach — to dissect and define stakeholder return on experience and loyalty, which aids us in sustaining brand loyalty for our stakeholders.

Measuring Success

SBS – How do you measure the success of your experiential brand experiences?

Teju – We use a combination of tools, data, and analytics to measure the success of our brand experiences that align with our measurable goals, both tangible and intangible. This achieves return on experience (ROX) in addition to return on investment (ROI). Some of the tools include stakeholder listening, data collection, and sentiment analysis.

Challenges and Solutions

SBS – What are some common challenges businesses face in experiential marketing, and how do you address them?

Teju – Lack of funding allocated to experiential marketing and its use is a common challenge. This is partly because experiential marketing is viewed as an add-on approach to an existing strategy rather than a strategy to build around. The industry identifies experiential marketing as just that — a marketing tactic, such as live events and activations. To us, it’s more of a strategic concept or principle stretching throughout a brand’s experience.

This can be addressed by reframing the language used and understanding that what makes these experiential marketing events powerful and profitable are the principles that experiential stands on. If an entire brand experience is based on the same principles used within those events, it would be powerful and profitable.

Industry Variations

SBS – How does your approach vary across different industries such as sports, entertainment, or non-profits?

Teju – The most unique aspect of our approach to brand experiences is that it isn’t specific to a particular industry or business type. Because we use an approach that fosters human beings and the parts of us that make us human beings (emotions + feelings), we’re able to use our approach and impact businesses across industries as our experience principles remain the same.

There are industries such as sports and entertainment and non-profit organizations where human emotion-led relationships are more recognizable than others. For example, if a stakeholder has a passion for supporting a youth academic non-profit because of their predisposed feelings toward the initiative, that increases impact and, at times, aids in larger growth for us. However, this is not due to a varying approach but in part to market sophistication. Our approach has increased both experience and profits for our stakeholders within 11 industries (and counting).

Small Business Advice

SBS – What advice would you give to small businesses looking to enhance their brand experience?

Teju – I’d advise the business to really understand how relational brand experience is when enhancing their strategy. They must step away from keeping the interactions transactional. Instead, they should harvest a brand experience that warrants a deeper focus on the actual connection between all their stakeholders through community and relationships – in addition to ensuring that their stakeholders have positive and consistent interactions and associations across all touchpoints, an industry definition of brand experience.

Innovation in Branding

SBS – What innovative techniques are you currently exploring or plan to explore in the field of experiential branding?

Teju – One of the main innovative techniques we’ve explored is expanding experiential marketing into experiential concepts. Per the industry, we have had immense success using experiential as a strategic concept vs. just a marketing tool. Again, the strategic pieces that make experiential marketing events and activations successful are strategic tools that would make the brand’s overall experience successful should the concept of experiential be applied through every interaction. A lot of this work has to consider the affective + behavioral sciences and their impacts on us as human beings as the source of our emotions, feelings, and decisions.

The plan is to continue to do the work and increase impact through Branperience and through increased speaking engagements and talks that display the research, data, and empathy that make this concept impactful.

Team Dynamics

SBS – How does your team of intuitive empaths contribute to the process of creating brand experiences?

Teju – Our approach with our stakeholders centers on them as people who own and/or operate a business, but they are humans first — and that language is important to keep clear. Although the world tries to convince us that business isn’t personal, it is. Your personal life habits bleed into how you handle business. For this, our team of empaths is able to sense and understand the emotions and energy of others, and it allows them to deeply connect with our stakeholders and offer support and understanding while making an impact within their brand experiences and, more importantly, in their lives.

Client Collaboration

SBS – How do you collaborate with clients to ensure their brand vision and goals are met?

Teju – Our relationships are based on partnerships with our stakeholders, not a dictatorship or monopoly just because we are the contracted experts. This is the biggest way we ensure their visions and goals are met. They are privy to the journey we are on internally while sustaining their experience from our vantage point throughout the process. At any time, they’re able to insert, ask, or ensure we’re continuing to capture and execute their vision and goals. That’s untraditional in typical agency/firm relationships. In addition, we have constant check-ins, data and research collection, clear and consistent communication, etc., which is reinforced through our principle — “your brand, their experience.”

Future Trends

SBS – What trends do you foresee in the field of brand experience and experiential marketing?

Teju – One of the main trends I foresee is stakeholders being increasingly drawn to brands with a strong sense of purpose and commitment to social responsibility again, similar to what we saw in 2020. Brands will be held accountable and forced to be proof of promise in order to garner sales and brand support to stay afloat and gain an edge over competitors. It will be required that what is being said and what is being done matches, internally and externally, and truly connects to stakeholders, both new and old. Predisposed emotional connections are important, and that’s exactly what brand experience and experiential marketing are all about.


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How Teju Aluko Redefines Brand Experience with Emotion