Max Lenderman Talks Brand Purpose, The Future of Experiential Marketing, and Beyond

Experiential marketing is in a constant state of evolution, and few people have their finger on the pulse quite like Max Lenderman. With a myriad of experience building purpose-centric marketing campaigns that help companies create meaningful relationships with consumers,  Max  demonstrated the value of empathy in marketing campaigns, making brave decisions, and not merely keeping an  eye on the future of the industry, but helping to craft it. 

The crew at Inspira Marketing Group had the opportunity to chat with Max to gain his perspective on how brand experience is evolving. The result was a fascinating presentation and engaging conversation about brand purpose and the concept of creating a transformative brand experience. 

We’ve compiled seven key takeaways from Max’s presentation that will prove invaluable for anyone looking  to gain a more robust understanding about this ever-changing industry. Read on to learn more. 

#1: Understand the difference between classic brands and modern brands.

Max proposed that you think of it this way: classic brands have traditionally been  focused on promise, while modern brands are focused on purpose. Classic brands establish trust with the consumer through authority, while modern brands tackle this with transparency.  

Take two toothpaste brands, for instance. Colgate, for instance, has been around for decades and has made claims such as “80% of scientists recommend…” This, for instance, relies on authority. Meanwhile, David’s Natural Toothpaste, which was founded in 2011, relies on transparency about this product’s impact on the environment;  just take a look at their Instagram

#2: Experiential marketing has evolved into brand experience.

What comes to mind when you think of the phrase ‘experiential marketing?’ It’s highly likely that, if you were to compare definitions with a colleague, they wouldn’t be quite the same. This is because experiential marketing is continually changing, and thus, the definition changes with it.

Beyond experiential marketing and its traditional tactics, marketers are now referring to ‘brand experience.’ This, as Max mentioned, is far more encompassing than the traditional term ‘experiential marketing.’ It’s not enough to think about just the campaign anymore; you also must consider customer experience at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

#3: Making empathetic decisions can make a difference in reaching consumers.

While empathy is traditionally  regarded as an essential pillar of marketing, it can be argued that a larger focus on science, rationality, and objectivity have led to a lack of  empathy in marketing. Returning to empathy and gaining a more robust capacity to understand another person’s perspective or feelings can prove invaluable with developing meaningful campaigns.

Curiosity, it should be noted, also can drive empathy, so Max stressed the importance of carving out time to be curious. A curious, empathetic marketer will have a clearer understanding of what’s important to the consumer and what their needs are. This, in turn, can make creating a marketing campaign more effective. 

You can harness the power of exploratory ethnographic research to further develop empathy for the consumer. This can include open-ended individual conversations, customer journaling, observations, or several of these methodologies.

#4: Consider how purpose can be central to your brand experiences.

Consider the difference between purpose-driven marketing and cause marketing. While  cause marketing is reactionary and revolves around going against something, purpose-driven marketing is proactive and stands for something. 

For this reason, purpose-driven campaigns offer significant potential for creativity and allow a brand to develop owned equity and authenticity around its purpose.

#5: There are three different types of purpose; it’s wise to hone in on customer purpose.

The pandemic compelled consumers to re-examine their values and think deeply about the brands they choose to support. As a result, brands need to re-think their purpose beyond the product itself.  Understanding the three different types of purpose is critical. First, there’s the company’s purpose – its reason for being and where the company can have a unique and positive impact on society.

Next, there’s the brand purpose.  This seeks to describe what  the company’s role is in the lives of the customers. And lastly, there is the customer purpose. This is where marketers should be focusing to make a company indispensable to its customers. Max suggested that you note the intents, needs, questions, and even desired outcomes that could potentially lead a customer to engage with a company. When your customers achieve their purpose, then they are generating value for the company. 

#6: Your duty as a marketer is to challenge your beliefs to create fresh, meaningful experiences for consumers.

Let’s talk about bravery.  The best marketer is one that’s not afraid to challenge their beliefs and diverge from traditional thinking. Max explained that you should refrain from approaching  a campaign from your own point of view, or thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if…?” After all,  what’s ‘cool’ is highly subjective. Just because it’s ‘cool’ to a marketer doesn’t mean the customer will share the same sentiment.

This is where your empathy and curiosity come into play. Use data and insights to understand your consumer and take an empathic approach to create something that feels intrinsic to the brand AND answers the needs of the consumer. It’s not enough to do one or the other. Oftentimes, this will require releasing your own beliefs or biases. Let your empathy guide you to challenge those beliefs and create fresh, meaningful experiences that customers will love.

#7: Think about the post experience; this is where marketing experiences become transformative.

While purpose-driven marketing has plenty of merits, it is essential to begin thinking about the future before it arrives. Max mentioned how marketers should begin to consider the post-purpose marketing world. When you’re actively thinking about this, you’ll be able to work towards shaping it.

The next iteration of brand experience marketing, Max believes, is likely focused on transformation. Participation, while vital, will be taken a step further, and brands will be called to answer not only why they’re the right match for their customer, but what they can do for them. 

It’s an exciting  time to be working in this space, and the team at Inspira couldn’t be more eager to actively create the future of brand experience.. If you’ve enjoyed reading these key takeaways, be sure to check out Camus, where Max publishes thoughts on experiential marketing and beyond. 


Empathy Based Marketing, 2021 | Carsten L. Pedersen

Colgate’s ‘80% of dentists recommend’ claim under fire, 2007 | Osborne Clark 

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