How do you create products that resonate with users emotionally? How do you get users to love the product and commit to the brand behind it through loyalty? We think Kevin Roberts’ Lovemarks Effect offers an interesting perspective. He believes Lovemarks is a perfect answer to the modern consumer revolution: the day and age when businesses can no longer “target” consumers but need to “attract” them instead.
The Attraction Economy propagates connecting to consumers authentically, through compelling emotional experiences encoded in Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy. Mystery says: surprise me. Sensuality says: stimulate me. Intimacy says: give me passion. As product designers, what interests us is if and how we can use principles underlying the Lovemarks Effect to build products that speak to people, entertain, satisfy, in heartwarming ways.
Biology of emotion
The human brain is wired in a curious fashion. Only one part of it is responsible for logic and rationale, while two-thirds is in charge of our feelings – and also decision-making.
“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action, while reason leads to conclusions.” Donald Calne, neurologist
For marketers, this has proved to be a fascinating discovery: an average consumer makes decisions emotionally in spite of seeking to perceive rationally. This means that people want to “feel” right about a product before consuming it; convincing them through benefits and features is a tall order in a world flooded with choices.
Predicament of non-emotive design
To become a Lovemark – to move beyond “brand” – businesses should start with High Respect, Kevin Roberts suggests, and on the Love/Respect axis, ideally aim for High Respect, High Love. We imagine that products should eye the same quadrant: earning respect from solid performance, and securing love from emotive appeal.
Most companies and their products, however, are stuck in the High Respect, Low Love zone. Their fervour is misplaced because they focus too much on offering functional benefits and too little on striking an emotional chord. Such non-emotive design dooms products to short uninspiring lifespans in which they never reach the status of Lovemarks.
Start With Why
To craft emotionally beautiful designs, a creator is ought to start with Why. Simon Sinek, in his famous TED talk, explains this theory urging to inspire through beliefs:
“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.” Simon Sinek, author
In design, starting with Why is especially relevant during the initial stage of ideation. Ask yourself, what motivates you as an inventor? Why is solving this problem, this need important to you? And crucially, why should users care? Are you solving a real pain point, a genuine want?
In product design, such self-exploration should manifest, first and foremost, in user experience that is memorable and intense: such that a product becomes intimate, owned; becomes a Lovemark.
“Mr Clean gives another example of the power of new questions. It was magic on floors but the brand didn’t radiate this. We invited in world-class designers. They didn’t ask how to make Mr Clean liquid work better or smell better. Instead they asked: ‘Can we find how to make cleaning more interesting?’ That was a great question.” Jim Stengel, former Global Marketing Officer, Procter & Gamble
Aesthetics is another natural consequence of the designer’s attempt at emotional connection. After all, great aesthetics can transform even the most mundane objects into possessions of pride, into factors of identity, into drivers of passion.
Power of language
But none of this will matter if communication does not deliver. The story that you have so carefully crafted around your product needs to be communicated skillfully, in terms that are present, meaningful to users. To ensure your language is up-to-date, you need to listen. Listen and partake in the changing environments, so that your design speaks – and speaks to people who matter.
“Whoever controls the language controls the debate. If you get the language right, if you can change the way the issue is framed, you can begin to woo people into thinking about things your way because language is so powerful.” Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company
Lovemarks regardless, design is emotional
Whether you subscribe to the Lovemarks Effect or not, its lessons stand: satisfying consumers today means attracting them – through reliable quality which paves way to Respect and inimitable trust which leads to Love. These lessons have an immediate effect on the way we design: to design successfully, we must design products that enthuse, that arouse emotions – and connecting to individuals authentically, with creative curiosity is the ultimate way to achieve just that.