Digestion

Emotional Design and Neuroeconomics

Posted on: October 22, 2007

Roger Dooley of Neuromarketing blog asks “Why struggle to make ads more appealing when you could be making the product itself more appealing by tapping into the consumer’s true feelings and reactions?” This makes a lot of sense. Advertising has its place and purposes, but doesn’t it seem almost obvious that product design should be a key element in trying to connect with people?

Dooley’s blog focuses on the intersection between brain science and marketing. In today’s post he talks about neuroeconomics, and how this study of emotional response to brands/products could be an important tool for designers. Recent studies have found that areas in the brain stimulated by familiar products/brands are the same areas stimulated by comfort and contentment (see Wired.com’s “Designers See Dollar Signs In Your Emotions”)

Dooley says “There’s the potential for a great combination of art and science in the process of emotional design. Brain scans can in no way replace the creative aspect of a brilliant design, but using advanced techniques to measure customer response and emotional engagement have the potential to avoid non-starter designs and make good design even better.” It’s ironic (or is it) that design, what I thought was something one reacts to and creates, intuitively, is beginning to consider science (not usually an intuitive discipline) as a possible ‘partner’ in the creative process. This brings me to wonder about the specifics of neuroeconomic studies. Do they ask questions such as:

  • If we show subjects two vases, in the same color, material, and finish, but one being asymmetrical and the other symmetrical, which area of the brain will favorably light up?
  • When shown curves versus 90 degree angles, what results in positive response?
  • Is there more comfort towards primary colors combined with straight lines, or muted colors and curves?

Why are some first time product experiences special? Upon seeing or feeling something new (whether it’s an upgraded product or a new product altogether), why do we react with joy, surprise, happiness, or confusion? Why do some products give way to an intuitive experience and understanding, while others leave us far from impressed or engaged? It makes sense that design (good, smart design) should be a pathway to brand engagement. Experiencing a brand or ‘thing’ at its core is much more powerful than seeing how potential consumers might use it on tv or in a print ad. Again, not to discount the value of ‘advertising’. I guess I’m more of a champion of good ideas, and not all advertising is a good idea…

Just some random musings…

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1 Response to "Emotional Design and Neuroeconomics"

Dead on. Design evokes emotion on an intuitive level and creates an experience that can be so much more effective than advertising. Of course, I work for a design firm . . . 🙂

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