Conversation with Brian Solis: Better Design Experiences Means Designing For Emotion

Content Marketing Team Lead

Zoha Tapia

Content Marketing Team Lead

Ahead of our May 17 webinar with Brian Solis, we talked with Brian about his book and design experience framework. Brian has been at the forefront of marketing for well over a decade and believes we need a new approach to marketing. We say we want to understand our customers, but what we mean is that we want customers to like us on our own terms.

That approach isn’t working well anymore and it’s time for a change. For Brian that means embracing X.

Communication is conveying emotion to another person

When we communicate we are sharing more than information with our audience; we’re sharing emotion too. That book on business strategy is about that feeling that you need to do something different. That ad for new jeans is about looking good and feeling good. That Scotch ad is about feeling wise, adult, and sage while sitting reading something deep and intellectual.

Those emotions fuel the experience we want people to have with our brands and companies. Until now, brands have been pushing emotions onto us. Now it’s time for companies to learn what we’re feeling and adapt.

The “about this book” section on Amazon for X: The Experience When Business Meets Design goes like this:

Welcome to a new era of business in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.Do you know how your customers experience your brand today?Do you know how they really feel?Do you know what they say when you’re not around?In an always-on world where everyone is connected to information and also one another, customer experience is your brand. And, without defining experiences, brands become victim to whatever people feel and share.In his new book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design bestselling author Brian Solis shares why great products are no longer good enough to win with customers and why creative marketing and delightful customer service too are not enough to succeed. In X, he shares why the future of business is experiential and how to create and cultivate meaningful experiences.This isn’t your ordinary business book. The idea of a book was re-imagined for a digital meets analog world to be a relevant and sensational experience. Its aesthetic was meant to evoke emotion while also giving new perspective and insights to help you win the hearts and minds of your customers. And, the design of this book, along with what fills its pages, was done using the principles shared within.Brian shares more than the importance of experience. You’ll learn how to design a desired, meaningful and uniform experience in every moment of truth in a fun way including: How our own experience gets in the way of designing for people not like us Why empathy and new perspective unlock creativity and innovation The importance of User Experience (UX) in real life and in executive thinking The humanity of Human-Centered Design in all you do The art of Hollywood storytelling from marketing to product design to packaging Apple’s holistic approach to experience architecture The value of different journey and experience mapping approaches The future of business lies in experience architecture and you are the architect. Business, meet design. X

What is X? Remember math class? X is what you solve for and in our case X is emotion. What we’re solving for is both what we’d like people to feel and understanding the emotions around the experience interacting with your brand.

In the first few chapters of his book, Brian builds a diagram starting with Consideration and Awareness on one side pointing to Purchasing and Experiences on the other. Together they form an X. What brings these parts together? Emotion. The completed diagram looks like this:

Surrounded by experience are the moments of truth (zero, first, second, and ultimate MOT) which are expressions and outcomes of each experience. This is the foundation and framework for communications based on tailoring experience for emotion.

Crafting medium-centric communications

Talking with Brian, it’s clear that even the forward-looking of us aren’t looking far enough ahead. Imaging a system where a Facebook Messenger Bot takes your order, the receipt is sent by email, shipping by SMS might be cool and delightful, but still the old way of thinking. Still pushing onto people something we expect they want. Instead…maybe it should be like this:

The new way might include Facebook knowing a close friend’s birthday is coming up and offer tailored gift suggestions. Facebook interprets closeness based on the graph it has between you two. Suggestions based on the friend’s likes and your buying habits (for example budget). Facebook might then offer to buy and ship them to you with simple taps. That’s predicting what you need before you realize you need it. B2B selling ties into emotional states too. Bah, you say. I sell B2B solutions, we don’t need emotions. Oh? You’re selling to robots or Vulcans? No, you’re still selling to people.

Regardless of B2C or B2B, we’re always selling to, and communicating with, people who have emotions. Looking at a new project management tool might have started because a project went off the rails and you don’t want to suffer through that again. Finding a vendor for a communications platform might because you were inspired and are excited to launch your idea. Understanding the emotional states and needs of customers helps you match your solution to their problem. Even if it’s simple as recognizing B2B buyers need to make a choice that won’t get them fired, gives you a starting point for messaging. “No one got fired for buying IBM, or building a website on WordPress.” helps give emotional assurance to proceeding with a project. Playing to emotions in your communications isn’t pandering, it’s understanding where people are coming from. This is not an easy thing to grasp or deal with. However the work Brian and others are doing are paving the way towards developing frameworks, like the ones outlined in X If you want to delve into this topic more, attend our May 17 webinar, listen to Brian, and pose your questions in the Q&A.

Jan 30th, 2022
5 min read
Content Marketing Team Lead

Zoha Tapia

Content Marketing Team Lead