Design & Emotion Blog

// Learn from the experts
I am sure you can relate to this

We all experience. Is is virtually impossible not to continuously experience the world around us. Emotions shape and affectively colour our experiences.

Emotions play a vital role throughout the span of our lives. Strictly speaking, the concept of emotion refers to a particular and specific affective phenomenon: a brief episode of coordinate brain, autonomic, and behavioural changes that facilitate a response to an external or internal event of significance.

In different stages of our lives we will experience particularly designed products and services that will resonate emotionally with us. These products and services will become part of our identity, we refer to them in stories about our lives or coming of age: they define who we were then, and who we have become now. My own personal identity timeline with emotional brands would most definitely include: Disney, LEGO, Spalding, Air Jordan, Honda, Apple and Volvo. These brands have managed to stick with me, but how can other brands achieve the same? – Through emotion-driven innovation.

Three trends that support emotion-driven innovation

The influence of the ‘emotional quality’ of consumer products on purchase decisions is growing. Companies are forced to make the difference on the basis of providing a full and meaningful experience for the consumer. Nowadays it is more difficult to distinguish products based on their technological advances or quality. In many markets, products are similar in respect to their technical characteristics, quality and price. Consumers however are looking for products, brands and services that give them a feeling of wellbeing, happiness or create a memorable or meaningful experience.

Brands like Apple, LEGO or Coca-Cola have a long history in their ability to communicate and resonate with consumers on a meaningful level. The clients of these companies are not just followers of the brand – they are true fans, along with all of the benefits of having clients that feel unconditional love for them.

It is therefore no surprise that more and more companies are challenging their designers and R&D department to (positively) manipulate the emotional impact of their designs. For them, it becomes vital to have a profound understanding of how products elicit emotions and how tools that evaluate the emotional impact of a certain design can be used.

Along with technological advances and the fast-paced consumption society, you can also see the shift from moving away from ownership of objects/ products towards a central focus on the experience of the product. In fact, the experience becomes the product. Good examples can be found in the changing environment of the music industry where owning cd’s is being traded for owning the experience of music.

I therefore see three trends that especially support emotion-driven innovation and design:

  1. 1. Companies realize that they can only reach new competitive advantages by going beyond quality, functionality and reliability. They will have to design experiences that are both pleasurable and meaningful.
  2. 2. Brands that are able to change followers into fans have proven to be hard to beat. The advantages that go along with having fans are humongous.
  3. 3. Experience takes a central role. The experience becomes the product.

Strategic considerations to design for emotion

Designing products with an emotional fit requires an integrated approach in which tools that measure the emotional impact of products go hand in hand with in-depth knowledge about the goals, attitudes, norms and values of consumers. Designing for an intended emotional impact includes an iterative but constructive approach in which the designer focuses on a consumer’s personal values and a product’s targeted ‘emotional impact’ to design specific interventions that support these.

With the Get Emocional! workshop we engage participants in a hands-on ‘design for emotion’ experience. By introducing a systematic approach to designing products that deliberately elicit predefined emotional responses, the workshop aims to facilitate a shift from an intuitive to a structured and manageable perspective on user emotion in conceptual design processes.

Based on personal experiences, participants first explore universal principles in how emotions are elicited, using structures drawn from recent emotion theory. In the second stage, participants employ their newly drawn insights in a design application.

The workshop includes bite size pieces of theory plus various practical exercises to let participants apply the theory and experience the process themselves.

The following strategic steps form the basic concepts to integrate emotions successfully: Understanding emotion, Measuring emotion and Designing for emotion.

Understanding emotion

This is about the conceptual models and theory that explain how people experience products and how emotions are evoked and impact our everyday lives.

Measuring emotion

How can we measure emotions and unveil the emotional impact of a product? In the workshop some of the latest tools that are developed in the academic and corporate field will be demonstrated and explained.

Design for emotion

Participants will use the presented theoretical framework as a starting point to learn how to design a product to evoke specific emotions.

Gain a unique competitive advantage

Influencing the behaviour and satisfaction of your customers has never been more effective. Even though it is not possible to design an experience in itself, measuring experiences and more specifically emotional experience will give you a head start. It enables you to design interventions that will create great experiences that are both authentic and meaningful.


SusaGroup is a strategic design consultancy with a particular focus on emotion as the key to create better, more enjoyable products and services and meaningful experiences in the end. SusaGroup combines scientific competences with market insights in the development and application of innovative, valid, and relevant tools to measure emotions. SusaGroup advises and trains several large corporations and FMCG’s in improving their products and services based on insights in the emotions of their customers. Clients included companies such as Unilever, Mars, Microsoft, BIC, Toyota and Philips.

// |

Leave a Comment