Tom Goldthorpe Recently a few of the Gravity Thinking troupe attended a breakfast meeting run by BIMA entitled Experience des...

Emotional advertising and a free croissant


Tom Goldthorpe

Recently a few of the Gravity Thinking troupe attended a breakfast meeting run by BIMA entitled Experience design – Keeping customers engaged.

We expected a panel discussion on best UX practice but  instead were treated to an interesting debate on Empathic advertising; which is the concept that those charged with directing the design and strategy behind a brand should strive to forge intimate and positive relationships when communicating with consumers.

They entitled it How designing to illicit an emotional response from customers can help build relationships that last beyond the initial spark

Or as James Downes, Director OF Pancentric, succinctly summarised;

People want an experience, not just possessions

When we look at a range of products of similar value it can be hard to determine which wins out, especially within tech.
Functionality and aesthetics are getting to be so similar that consumers are often swayed by cost reduction rather than unique proposition. They don’t call them “Sales” for nothing.

The panel argued  that Brand can, if executed correctly, be the key differentiator that translates into revenue growth. That tone of voice, intelligent design and brand values can engender emotional fulfilment within consumers buying decisions encouraging repeat purchase trends and brand loyalty. 

Giving a brand a personality that doesn’t feel too contrived is a tricky business though and as Andy Budd pointed out in his pithy  segment, it’s taken VW and Apple decades to get to where they are today.

But what on earth does this have to do with UX design?

As digital professionals we’re in the advantageous position where the executions of our ideas allow the user to interact with the brand, as well as to  digest the messaging. It is this that generates the richer connection.

Anna Kirah, another member of the panel, would have shuddered at the above use of the phrase User, arguing that there’s no hope in forging relationships with faceless users and that we’re designing and developing for people not a nameless entity existing  within the internet.
Fair cop, though some would say it boils down to semantics.

The thing about recruiting a panel of 5 experts to discuss an incredibly subjective and complex field within an hour is that they all tend to agree.
With 10 minutes to speak it’s a challenging task to get to the nitty gritty of where exactly the viewpoints differ.

It was frustrating too, that the audience tended to agree with the panels’ line.

So while the venue was nice and no one can complain about  a free croissant, was anything achieved?

Perhaps we need a reminder every now and then that we’re on the right track. That despite some rather clever algorithms, there’s more to advertising than just waiving a product under someone’s nose.

With access to metrics gleaned from big data it can be all too easy to review the numbers and make decisions based on averages. But people are much more complex than their aggregate. To remain relevant, it’s imperative that we remember we’re talking to people, not just a user base.
If we’re going to invite ourselves into peoples’ lives we might as well do it with a bit of style.

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