Full disclosure – I’m a brand research executive and skilled in what is sometimes called “empathetic listening.” This means I’m an inveterate people watcher, instinctively put myself in others’ shoes and strive to figure out what makes people tick.
I’ve been reading up on trends in UX and brand design recently and find that an empathetic approach is highly prized at agencies as various as IDEO, frog design, Landor, and BBDO. Empathy is considered an essential component in up-front evaluation of user needs and, as well, is often leveraged in creative strategy and execution. Consider P&G’s amazing new campaign for the 2012 Olympic sponsorship, “road to glory”, that recognizes the role played by moms in supporting their young athletes. In this work:
- Empathetic listening drives insights that fuel creative/design strategy
- Empathetic messaging is at the center of the executional elements celebrating the games’ unsung heroes…moms
To check out the campaign click here. And look below to see another amazing example of empathetic listening driving empathetic creative – part of a pro-bono campaign by BBDO for the Ad Council.
Moral of the story – empathy opens doors to human understanding and is an irresistible force that breaks down barriers and brings people together.
I have long thought that logos serve a dual function.
The Beacon – for newbies seeing a brand logo for the first time, it serves as a beacon…identifying the landmark and inviting passersby to investigate.
The Window– for experienced users, it serves as a window into the tapestry of ideas, thoughts and emotions that constitute the brand’s equity and, hopefully, appeal.
Here’s an example. Most Americans driving by a neon sign for Super Duper Weenie, if they see it, will think “hot dog joint” and perhaps stop in for a bite. This is the beacon effect. In contrast, for anyone living in Fairfield CT, home of Super Duper Weenie, this logo is already incredibly well known. It conjures up associations of fabulous hotdogs, incredible fries and an authentic welcome from owner Gary Zemola. This is the window effect.
If you want to see the early stirrings of logo power (as seen through the eyes of a 5 year old) check out the video below. And don’t neglect investing in consumer experiences that drive the power of your brand and your logo over time!
I’m not talking about Stevie Wonder here. I’m asking you to think about that very private, quiet, creative place in your mind where you go to imagine things – memories, mental geography, story lines, loved ones – the place you go to reflect on things when eyes are closed.
Imagine a new kind of brand communication – brand experience really – that speaks to this private part of your mind – bypassing verbal appeals and speaking directly to the non-verbal core of your imagination. Powerful stuff – a new language really – and some forward thinking brands are learning how to do it.
Consider the campaign for Legoland UK resorts – agency gurus installed tiny pigeon-sized Lego billboards around London and invited passers-by to tweet #legolandminibreaks with a photo if they spotted one. Alternatively, watch to video (attached) describing an experimental brand installation for Absolut India. These efforts bypass all the normal filters we consumers throw up, and speak directly to our inner vision – powerful stuff!