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customer experience
Tim Wade
  • By Tim Wade
  • Oct 05 2015

Misery - the key to creating standout customer experience

Reflections on Banksy and business

Picture this. You’re the CEO of a tourist attraction and your marketing director is presenting his latest idea at a board meeting. “We want to create a family theme pack unsuitable for children, where we’ll convey misery as the leading emotion. I want the theme park to acknowledge inequality and impending catastrophe”. What would you do?

A) Laugh out loud but hope to God he’s just kidding.

B) Ask him if he needs a glass of water and quickly call security

C) Go with it.

This bizarre scenario isn’t too far away from the truth. This week saw one of the most fascinating UK customer experience stories come to a close in Weston Super Mare. The five-week installation ‘Dismaland’ by Banksy saw 200,000 visitors and brought in around £20m to the local economy. Banksy described the project as a “Family theme park unsuitable for children… that acknowledges inequality and impending catastrophe”. Who would have thought that a ‘bemusement park’ would be so engaging and popular?

In business we hear lots of talk about creating experiences that connect emotionally with our audience. Most organisations naturally focus on the positive areas of the emotional spectrum, let’s be honest, pitching ‘misery’ to the CEO, probably won’t do your career progression any favours. But if Banksy’s experiment teaches us anything, it’s that great experiences can be built around the full spectrum of emotions in the human experience. Working with leading brands, I’ve learnt that creating stand-out customer experiences is by definition, creating something different to everyone else.

Banksy took an intentional decision to showcase the subtle realities that are shaping the UK today and in doing so; created a highly successful business. How many of us would have been so bold, or would have had such strong beliefs to even attempt this? In art, as in business, risk-taking is as necessary as hard work in the battle to stand out and create unique customer experiences

It’s important for us in business to take notice of the Banksys of this world and sometimes to take the road less travelled. Creating an emotional connection is vital, but it’s ok to be bold and veer off the road of happiness and sentimentality on occasion. But you need to guard against being different for difference sake, that way smacks of marketing gimmicks. (Remember the cigarette brand called ‘Death’ anyone?)

Banksy’s bold venture was rooted in a bigger purpose - to draw attention to the problems in society. So too does your customer experience need to be rooted in your brand, only then can you truly deliver a branded customer experience.