Physical Intelligence and Metaphorical Thinking

Jul 24 2014

Sensation: The new science of physical intelligence by Thalma Lobel connects a number of themes from the Inspector Insight and Doctor Disruption blogs. The focus of the book is on the practical implications of the theory of embodied cognition connecting this idea to ideas of metaphorical thinking and symbolism in the environment, themes explored in Brand esSense and in many previous articles (see Thinking about analogy, Metaphors in thinking, Metaphors in semiotics, Sensory metaphors and Creativity and metaphor). Sensation is the clearest explanation I have read of embodied thinking, linking the results of years of stand-alone research studies to an underlying theory of the relationship between human thinking, sensory perception and the interactions between humans and the environment.

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Principles of Design #58 – Signal-to-Noise Ratio

Jul 22 2014

Signal-to-noise ratio is the ratio of relevant to irrelevant information in a display, and one of the most important outcomes for a designer of any system, product or communication is to design the highest possible ratio of signal to noise. Communication is all about the creation, transmission and reception of information, and during each of these stages the signal is degraded and irrelevant information (noise) added. Such degradation reduces the amount of useful information with a lower amount of signal and a greater amount of noise (hence a lower signal-to-noise ratio). Good design always maximises signal and minimised noise.

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Design Methods #21 – User Journey Maps

Jul 18 2014

User journey maps are used to visualise the experiences of people when using a product or service, evaluating each individual interaction and identifying improvements that can be made at each moment. The map tells the ‘story’ of an individual’s actions, feelings, perceptions, considerations and behaviours including positive as well as negative moments, covering all such interactions over sometimes long periods of time. Such documentation of a series of events helps shift business focus from an operational (system) point of view to a the broader context of how individuals interact with the business in the real world.

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Review of Marketing to the Ageing Consumer

Jul 11 2014

While businesses and especially marketers and advertisers focus on ‘digital disruption’ and play with their new online toys, arguably they are still missing the biggest behavioural disruption of our age – the ageing of consumers. societies and spending power. Having just turned 50 myself, I continue to be amazed at the narrow focus of most marketing activities on those much younger than me. Perhaps it’s just that middle age advertising executives like to pretend that they are still teens?

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Design Methods #20 – Collage

Jul 11 2014

Collages are great inspiration in design and research, giving participants the opportunity to express their feelings, desires and thoughts in a visual (and therefore less conscious and more intuitive) way than traditional research approaches. Using imagery allows people to “project” on to a visual artefact giving insight into hidden motivations and emotional responses. Read more »

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Sweet talking emotions

Jul 01 2014

A recent paper by a team from Princeton University and the Free University of Berlin has shown that taste related words engage the emotional brain more strongly than equivalent literal words. They showed that the brain processes everyday metaphors differently from more literal language, with greater emotional engagement. For example, ‘she smiled at him sweetly” created more activation of the emotion centres of the brain than the expression “she smiled at him kindly”, even though they have equivalent meaning and were understood equally well.

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Sensory Branding as Behavioural Trigger

Jun 27 2014

I recently wrote a piece on how Vittel used package design to create a behavioural trigger, and today came across another example. Nescafe have relaunched their classic coffee with a great piece of sensory branding that is also a great behavioural trigger. The newly designed jar has a 3D-printed lid that can also be used as an alarm clock.

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Design Methods #19 – Triangulation

Jun 26 2014

Triangulation is the process whereby designers and researchers converge the answers from multiple methods to corroborate evidence from different perspectives. This combination of sources helps ensure the accuracy of findings and mitigates the weaknesses of any individual method or data source. For example, by comparing data across different collection methods or questions, helping to give increased confidence in the findings or challenge the approach(es). As well as potentially providing more robust conclusions, triangulation can also provide a richer depth of information from multiple sources. Read more »

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Creating Behavioural Triggers

Jun 01 2014

Great brands often create rituals and routines around product usage. Think of the name calling, writing names, grinding beans and steaming coffee to create the ambience of a coffee bar. Guinness has created a whole ritual around the serving of the brand through the correct temperature and timing as well as a four-leaf clover in the white head of the drink. Similary, Stella Artois launched a nine-step pouring ritual for their brand of beer: Read more »

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The Future of Sensory Branding

May 15 2014

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how things look. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how things work.”  – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was no fan of branding and marketing and is revered as a design hero. But the reality is that he was a supremely successful brand manager, because he was a great designer. In fact, I believe that branding is all about design, and no area of branding highlights this more than sensory branding.

Sensory branding is a relatively new concept, best known through Martin Lindstrom and his book Brand Sense. Although the discipline is so young, even in the last year concepts of cross-modal design and multi-sensory marketing have gained great traction, as the work of Charles Spence and others has shown. Read more »

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