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BW Businessworld

Emotional Design – The Difference Between Brands And Communities

Emotional design can seep into every level, be it a logo or the offline and online packaging, of any brand. As human beings, we respond to humor, love, pain and a plethora of emotions.

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Good design has two layers: aesthetics and functionality. However, great design happens to have an additional facet to it, empathy. The emotional element of designing is rarely thought about, be it on the part of marketeers or designers. Creating catchy looking collateral and content for brands thrives on a single, detestable word – VIRAL. Unfortunately, this ugly V word is often mistaken to be a tool that builds rooted connections with its users when it’s actually far from it.

With expanding channels that allow brands to connect with their user base, brand owners and marketeers currently face a challenge they had never envisioned. In order to ensure brand visibility and find a place in the target audience’s mind, they need to constantly create and push out fresh content aggressively in order to stay relevant. Be it videos or posters, brochures, infographics, reels or G.I.F’s, nothing seems ever enough! The brand owners straddle a thin line where on one hand, they need to have a social media presence that reflects what their brand stands. On the other hand, however, they don’t want to create brand saturation either. From the brand owner’s perspective, the question of how much brand content is enough brand content, is a tough nut to crack. As for the user, most of brand content often feels like stale leftovers. Having been recycled and reheated many a times, for the user, most of these brand content simply seems like a rehash of the latest viral trend – oh no, not this again!

User Experience designer, Aaron Walter, in his book ‘Designing for Emotion’, talks about how emotional experiences imprint on our long-term memories. Designs have the capability of creating experiences where the user feels like their interaction with the brand is grounded in shared human interest as opposed to the mechanical feeling of interacting with machines. Don Norman, the author of ‘Emotional Design,’ breaks down his approach to creative design into three stages: building the appearance of a design, perfecting the way it works and lastly amplifying the long-term impact. It is in these core basics where most brands fail. Brand owners, marketeers and design agencies these days are so busy creating as much content as quickly as possible that they forget how unsustainable this whole vicious cycle gets. If anything, we need to evaluate and evolve the manner in which we measure the impact of digital branding, stepping away from number of views and clicks. Being able to create designs that allow users to be introspective, become aware of unhealthy social patterns, uplift moods or create a call for action for social causes, are the kind of meaningful experiences that helps a product or a services crossover from being a brand to becoming a part and parcel of the community.

Emotional design can seep into every level, be it a logo or the offline and online packaging, of any brand. As human beings, we respond to humor, love, pain and a plethora of emotions. Hence, a design can reach its fullest potential by being, not merely functional but also emotionally stimulating. The #likeagirl campaign by Always won an Emmy, a Cannes Grand Prix award, and the Grand Clio award not because it wowed the panel with its CPC value. 2017’s App of the Year Calm, is a product that cracked emotional design to the T. Designing with emotion reinstates the awareness in the user that the brand is genuinely invested in their growth as opposed to treating them as mere numerical targets. By daring to go beyond numbers and projections, these well-designed campaigns have added substance to their brand identity.

Simply put, as a brand, you have to look at the concept of success in long term perspective. By rising above immediate buzz, it becomes critically important that each element of your brand, be it your website, an advertisement or an entire ad campaign is a building block to your brand’s identity as well as longevity. To build meaningful relationships and interactive communities through a brand, what one needs is not design that is VIRAL, but design that is actually HUMAN.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Varsha Rao

Creative Directors, Project 1.6.

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Preeti Mahajan

Creative Directors, Project 1.6.

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