A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

Brand #ExperienceDesign As Seen Through #Heuristics

Thinking on the part of the other to solve a problem or satisfy a need. Something, you would think, that resides in the realm of common sense. But as brands or marketers, do we really view this is as optimal?

My friend and respected colleague, Chris Adorna, left me with a wonderfully illustrated framework for experience design. When we consider things such as attribution, by simply  focusing on the person before promoting the brand, and by placing a value set on core cognitive traits, we can then extract, create or recreate experiences that are not only meaningful, but scalable, because they can adapt to behaviors and cultivate them. They become heuristic.

BTW, this is the Wikipedia definition of heuristic:

(pronounced /hjʊˈrɪstɨk, from the Greek "Εὑρίσκω" for "find" or "discover") is an adjective for experience-based techniques that help in problem solving, learning and discovery. A heuristic method is used to rapidly come to a solution that is hoped to be close to the best possible answer, or 'optimal solution'. Heuristics are "rules of thumb”, educated guesses, intuitive judgments or simply common sense. A heuristic is a general way of solving a problem.

Brand #ExperienceDesign As Seen Through #Heuristics
Let’s use the experience of buying a product as an example. Expressing the intent to purchase is not a common sense parallel (perhaps it used to be, but it isn’t anymore, arguably due to messaging overload). In other words, our ‘gut’ can only tell us so much about the decision we must make to purchase and why we’ve made that decision. Social interaction can help alleviate part of that challenge (enlisting the opinions or our peers), but ultimately, the platform we engage with has the fundamental purpose of making that purchase intent or decision entirely clear to us, and in a way where the experience we have on behalf of the brand makes that purchase intent or decision seamless.

You’ll notice that the framework is directly applied to interactive development, but in truth, this can be applied to any experience that we wish to develop. More importantly, when we also consider the catalyzing element - such as a platform, web utility or app – and its subsequent outputs, we then realize that the offline experiences we engender or recreate can be truly heuristic.

Also notice the visceral or actionable elements at play here: product management, industrial design, information technology, information sciences, cognitive psychology, anthropology... All things that lend to applied value creation. Without them, creating a website or a brochure or a display ad is just that: a two-dimensional object, an ad-like asset, we are often forced to reject or disregard.

Another key element to note: heuristics are regenerative. This is why things like usability, pattern analysis and archetyping are so vital – they shape the platform or utility we create as something that is truly dynamic, and truly organic, in nature. A website, for instance, is an asset that a brand should update or redesign (within reason of course) every single day. Why? Quite simply, because our consumptive patterns, attitudes and preferences change every single day.

Brand #ExperienceDesign As Seen Through #Heuristics

This is not to suggest in any way that we should do away with messaging. Quite the contrary. But what we should really take a hard look at is the taxonomy of touch-points that comprise a brand experience, establish the delineations between brand and product affinities, and build a careful and thoughtful rhetoric around what those things mean to each and every individual. In this sense, every conversation that is generated, and every interaction that is had, can tie back to, or reinforce, the messaging in a way that is transformative. Most importantly, the experience must solve a problem for me, or enhance my life in some profound way, and engage me in a story or a narrative that is ongoing. Then, every campaign I am offered can deliver on the potential of something bigger... Which is what the brand aims to represent.

This is the reality of 21st century branding. This is also what the state of the world demands from us.

Is it rocket science? Not really. But it is an exact science. And the kind of care and dedication that goes into our own self-preservation and advancement must be applied to the objects, tools and utilities we create as brands... All of which support thinking on the part of the other.

[image credits: Chris Adorna]