Emoting Brand Activation, part 2- Mind Over Matter

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Emoting Brand Activation

In part one of Emoting Brand Activation we looked at the power connection plays in our lives. This connection is heightened through experience, interaction and touch. In part 2 of our series we are diving deeper into the creation of a memory that drives anticipation. 


Joseph Campbell wrote, “What people seek is not the meaning of life but the experience of being alive.” Just what Is Interaction Design? Positioning people at the heart of an interactive experience always causes me to pause and wonder how they came to this crossroads of the experience. What is this emerging profession called interaction design anyway? And in what ways are people and the quality of their experiences made an intrinsic part of the design process? You would have to understand people before you could design for them. This is a prime reason that I think designers overthink the experience. They don’t understand that people like to explore on their own and not be lead around by the nose like a cow. The driving function that designers must keep at the top of the list of experiential requirements is what will delight the customer. Hooking the audience is easy and we can accomplish that with visual cues. Getting them to attach a memory to the experience is the quest for the Holy Grail. Remember I asked you to keep a memory of that new person you met and the conversation you might have had. Now add to that the fact that you both are visually impaired. How would you interact then? We are surrounded by visual noise all the time, so it is easy for us to overlook or treat our sense of sight as a lazy connection or be put off by what we are seeing. We have lost our curiosity within most brand experiences. BUT what if you added the sense of touch or scent as the primary connection portal, now what happens? Visual surprise can help users by compressing emotion into a split-second reaction; anticipation— surprise’s temporal opposite—can also shape emotional engagement. The sense of touch is our new anticipation. It allows the audience to experience something on a deeper 1:1 relation, rather than being herded like cattle which is what happens when we design with the sense of sight and hearing as our hook to enter the brand experience.


Everyone likes the feeling of anticipation; it evokes a chemical reaction that forces us to react, hopefully in a good way. In the world of gaming, anticipation is what game designers call an open system. Games designed with an open structure, like The Sims, allow users to wander and shape game play on their own terms. Open systems encourage people to use their imagination to create a personalized experience. Video games that use a closed system, like Super Mario Brothers, narrowly direct game play, forcing the user to move in a specific direction on a defined mission. The contrast between open and closed systems is what leads us so often to perceive that reading a book is better than seeing the movie. Books require our imagination to tell the story, but movies do all the imagining for us. Utilizing tactile or sensory enhancing textiles allows the participant to develop their own interpretation of what is behind the overall experience. Textiles allow this open system anticipation that encourages us to use our imagination to form an image of the brand experience. Creating anticipation has a much greater influence on people than simply laying out the details, as tantalizing uncertainty leaves the mind to play in a manner most relevant to the individual, not the space or experience. Something special awaits at the end of the anticipation moment, which creates a powerful yearning to end the mystery and see if the outcome meets the expectations. This explorative journey before the journey requires a designer to think about the subliminal touch points throughout the experience to influence the desired expectation which should be a lasting connection to the brand itself.

Allison Pocewicz

Allison Pocewicz

Allison has had a lifelong interest in multiple facets of design. Growing up between a sewing machine and a sketch pad, she went on to fine-tune her skills through studies in fine arts and fashion design. Upon entering the design/build industry, she continuously researches trends in various markets, including retail, hospitality, exhibitory/events, interiors and architecture in order to provide valuable educational and inspirational resources to clients.

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