Have you ever had such a great experience with a business that you excitedly brought it up in casual conversation? Whether it was the efficient system used at a restaurant, unexpectedly kind customer service when you had a problem, a really great free gift with a purchase, or bespoke product packaging, something off to Marie Kondo for this perfect description). It’s likely that business intentionally designed that experience to delight and surprise you. And great design results in more satisfied customers.
Why are we surprised by "better than average"?
Have we been conditioned to accept experiences and products to be merely “meh”? I would sadly say — yes! Unfortunately, so many businesses weight their focus on numbers and profit over honest concern for the well-being and needs of their customers. It’s a short-sighted approach that gets them, at best, an unremarkable reputation. As a designer, I am especially sensitive to bad experiences. I get annoyed because I know that with a little effort, they could be improved. I’m left wondering — do they not care enough to invest in something better? Do they care about how I’m feeling right now?
Design is about people
And yes, I understand that running a profitable business is stressful. “Spark joy” doesn’t always top the list of priorities. But what if it did?
This quote by renowned industrial designer Dieter Rams sums up how design is, in essence, centered on a concern for other humans. It expects the honest desire to understand another’s experiences, origins, goals, likes and dislikes. When we experience it, good design can make us feel understood, appreciated, and loved. That ought to spark joy! My dream is that through thoughtful design, fantastic experiences are the norm. There has already been a huge trend toward better design. People will go out of their way for better products or experiences. Just note the proliferation of “influencers”. Businesses are realizing that what people say — in person or online — makes or breaks their reputation. Their brand.
Design thinking for brand building
By focusing on the people they serve, businesses can design a better brand: a great product, service, or experience that people will talk about. Planning a brand strategy via design thinking builds the framework for a consistently great experience.