Design for People: Behaviors and Muscles.


Design the invisible.

Most of what people consider design is a physical thing you can touch, feel and see. Most firms in the creative services industry focus on the visible (ads, digital interfaces, packages, products, buildings, campaigns, etc). Most of what makes an impact on our culture (organizational, societal, subgroups) comes in the form of designed behaviors.

McDonald's restaurants redesigned our culture by getting us to bus our own dishes. Starbucks gave us permission to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee in a fast service environment. SmartWool socks designed a package which allowed skiers to try on socks and experience the luxurious feeling of Merino wool on their feet. The wine industry is changing a behavior by moving from corks to twist-off tops (for the betterment of both the wine and environment).

Behaviors are designed through creating new patterns and locking those patterns into new habits. Habits take time to form, some say between 18-224 days, which flies in the face of an advertising / promotional approach to growing brands.

For instance, if your focus is getting your ideal shopper to change a behavior, a coupon would need to arrive at the exact time when they make a purchase each time for the entire 7+ months. If your ad campaign is precisely integrated, it would have to be present in consumer's lives each time in the cycle of purchase. Unfortunately, campaigns typically don't last long enough to change real behaviors. So, what is the answer?

Design for people means we spend time understanding behaviors, needs, passions and belief systems. Design for people means we take an interest (deep empathy) in our role in human lives. Design for people means we can identify behaviors to be designed in favor of your brand. Taking a design approach means the effort is embedded into the experience and will have a chance of lasting longer than a campaign. Just saying it, "campaign thinking" versus "design thinking" takes someone farther out than how long a "campaign" typically lasts.

Relationships take time to build and a design perspective respects that effort.

Reply if you would like to discuss.

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