Blame it on Apple

December 5, 2014

As a guest columnist in the Kansas City Business Journal, DI Chief Brand Officer, Brett Posten shares insight on experience design expectations of millennials. 

If I have to read another article praising Apple for it’s visionary, disruptive, legendary design, I may go nuts.  So instead, I’ve decided to write one, albeit a little skewed. For years Apple’s talent for redefining the world we live in has captured the attention of journalists, design bloggers, educators and even politicians. Because of Apple, we’re all now design experts (and critics.)

More than just products, it’s not a surprise to anyone when you say that Apple has also redesigned the retail experience.  In fact, this may be just as revolutionary as their product design. Today’s millennials are growing up with an “experience” standard that far exceeds anything from the past.

For organizations like sports teams, movie theaters and museums, Apple’s new standard of experience design has created a host of unforeseen challenges.

Millennials have new experience expectations. While it may appear counterintuitive, your customer is not comparing your experience to your competitor, they’re comparing it to every other experience where they spend their time and money.

Knowing that we face this very real challenge of how to reverse declining attendance and successfully compete with the incredible experiences outside their walls, let’s ask ourselves “now what?”

Brand and experience designers can’t operate in a vacuum. They shouldn’t just look at other stadiums when they have a stadium client, or other theaters for a theater client, or other universities for a college client – they need to look for inspiration in the brand experience of their client’s customers. One can’t approach working in the NFL by keeping up with the Joneses. Instead, they must look to retail experiences, tastes in fashion, music, concerts and technology. They must go to the mall, search out the most progressive and hip restaurants, hotels, festivals, and movements. They should investigate home design, product design and pay attention to how people want to spend their free time and limited disposable income. They should monitor how those customers interact with their friends, and where they find meaning in their lives.

Because most venues currently being designed and worked on won’t hit their stride for years, the future of brand experiences is where we live.

Translating the best practices of brand experience to physical environments is what makes brand and experience design so much fun and so incredibly challenging.

So, now that we’ve blamed Apple, is there any good news?  Yes.  When you ask the question, “What does the stadium of the future look like?” we do know one thing: it won’t look like the Apple store.  That’s been done before.  It’s time for what’s next.