Lunchtime Lecturette - Marc Gobé: Emotional Design

by New Idiom


Marc Gobé is  President of Desgrippes Gobe, a branding and design firm.  He spoke at the Institute of Design on Tuesday, October 2nd.

“Anything that can make a nice T-shirt is a great idea.”

Or maybe that’s just the best way to reach cynical hipsters. People, even hipsters, relate to brands emotionally. And yet the way businesses approach their brands is often with rational logic. That was when soap was just soap. These days, soap (and everything else) is attempting to create an experience that is worth $4 a bar. But only by being authentic to what it appears to be will people connect with the experience it creates.

That means that a brand’s meaning is really created by people. Coke, for instance, means different things in the United States than it does in Asia or in South America. This emphasizes the importance of clarity in the imagery a brand uses and its affect on strategy. Take, for instance, the story Marc shared about IBM’s partnerships with small retailers. Both IBM and the retailers felt that a father-son analogy was appropriate. Through imagery, they discovered that IBM’s interpretation was that of a father supporting his son, while the retailers in fact imagined the father kneeling to talk eye-to-eye with the son. Discussions around these different meanings helped both parties collaborate in establishing a strategy.

Which reminds me of what my personal take on what a brand should be: an authentic view of yourself.