Google ‘empathetic design’ and you get 13,600,000 results. A great deal of those (well those in my extensive research of the first 2 pages) are about user centred design. When it comes to innovation and website creation this is a very powerful tool. Fully inhabit your current and future users reality and then create products and virtual environments that will best serve them.
What then of another type of ‘empathetic design’ or rather design empathy? There is a stage in the branding process BEFORE considering the wants and needs of your customers. If you see the role of your brand as a skilled communicator, you first need to understand the subject you are communicating.
Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep afterAnne Morrow Lindbergh
Your designer needs to inhabit your world. This doesn’t mean that they should raid your stationary cupboard or exhaust your tea supplies… they should put themselves in your shoes. They need to listen and listen some more to truely understand what it is like to be in your organisation… your hopes, your worries, your values.
“From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. from the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.”Unknown
We have a handy tool called Business Archetypes, it helps support the intuitive skill of design empathy. Simply put these are lenses that help to see the world as your business does. They help frame converstations and find the best approach to your branding project. They help designers and businesses really get to know each other and crucially help create great briefs to get your branding project off to the best possible start. They also have a selfie function! Allowing the lens to be turned on your business allowing you to step out of your world and see the things that those looking in might see.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”Epictetus