Hello there! My name is Marco Gervasio and this is a collection of stories about how interaction design, digital marketing, visual design, and social media can come together to create powerful programs and platforms for a meaningful customer experience. Feel free to reach out to me:

marco@sequential.ca

Innovation Process: The Art of Creating Meaning

Our world is complex and in constant state of change. And there is no sign that things will slow down or get simpler any time soon. This rapid evolution phenomenon applies not only to industries and organizations but to people and social movements as well.

The way we conduct business nowadays is far different that decades ago: the competitive landscape is always boiling with rising and falling players, society’s values are challenged all the time, technology is spitting out an overwhelming amount of new commodities, and customers have become overly stimulated and possibly blasé.

How do we survive in this jungle of insanity anyways? Shouldn’t life be easier? But I digress…

Perhaps the madness began with the industrial revolution, a stepping-stone in our history that totally changed how we created and accessed products. The machine age helped make everything more accessible and businesses jumped on the opportunity. Suddenly, customers had access to so many goods and started piling them up. But people’s needs and goals have evolved over the past century.

100 years ago, customers sought products with great features, devices that would make their lives more confortable and efficient: “My Lord! I can get light in the house by pressing a switch!” Decades later, in mid-century, when access to products was easy and options were abundant, customers started looking for more superficial benefits such as image and identity: “Which brand will make me appear swell in front of my peeps?” But are we really different today? Yes and no.

Both feature and identity benefits are still important. We still want the impossible gadgetry and still desire to display designer labels proudly. But coming up with great product functionalities or developing a cool brand is almost the easy part now. Why? Because today, people expect even more.

Options in the marketplace are certainly not weak. We face so many amazing selections every time we go shopping. So what makes customers more demanding than ever? Well, tired of just seeking innovative goods or brand self-association, they aspire to something more relevant, significant, and momentous. In other words: something meaningful.

But what is meaning, you may ask.

Our now aware and awaken customers will basically pay more attention to things that can make an actual difference in their lives, on a more emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual level. Basically, whatever we create should tap into how people connect with what makes sense around them, what is right, what is truly important in life. When people connect with your brand, do they get a sense of:

- Togetherness & Contribution
- Harmony & Splendor
- Certainty & Transparency
- Encouragement & Improvement
- Illumination & Discovery
- Creativity & Achievement
- Freedom & Integrity
- Etc.

It all comes down to setting up an overall experience that will generate meaningful moments. Obviously, the goal is not to make so many meanings come to life all at once. That would be overwhelming and not possible anyways. What’s important is to make sure that some of these actually occur. That’s when customers feel like you are devoted to generating a significant impact in their lives.

Being in business nowadays means caring for people and not look at them as numbers or buyers. It’s about a true desire to make a difference every time we have the chance to engage with people. It is a pretty noble intention, when you look at it this way. But making it happen is not easy. And why should it be? Every great thing in life requires a genuine effort to create, and it all starts at the foundation of every organization: culture.

Successful companies understand that offering the best customer experience demands a high level of commitment. It must be part of the company’s beliefs and values. Every thought, action, and conduct must align towards that goal. If your culture is based on wanting to make a real difference in people’s life, not only will you set up the grounds for innovative ideas to emerge but you will also ensure that the end product will connect with customers in profound ways.

Perhaps this seems ambitious but it does not have to be complex. It just needs to be good and right. Here are a few examples of companies that had an impact on us and the meanings they tapped into:

INSTAGRAM – Creativity & Achievement
This little app is so simple yet it has achieved so much. It did not allow people to take pictures, it made people feel like artists. Sure, all the filters help make everything look prettier than reality, but the app still made people want to become more creative by putting extra effort towards finding the right subjects and framing them in novel ways. Ordinary people suddenly had a tool to let the artist within come out. And we all need to create in life. It is a fundamental part of our existence.

MOVEMBER – Togetherness & Contribution
We all know about the ‘stache movement now. What makes this event so brilliant is how simple things came together: body marking, tribe building, giving back. A simple hairy feature on the face (a very noticeable one) would make people ask questions, allowing the advocate to lure them in and make them either donate money or become part of the clan. By mixing fun, style (arguable for some, but creative nonetheless), and collectivity, it just made people want to be part of it all. Participants suddenly felt a true sense of belonging and accomplishment. Finding a way to make people feel like they are part of a movement, of something great and bigger than themselves is what made the difference between this fundraising campaign and all the other ones.

APPLE – Harmony & Splendour
Well, it would be easy to attribute many other meanings to this brand, but I thought I would highlight these two. The reason is, a couple decades ago Apple took the conscious decision to make every product beautiful and easy to use. The outcome was a series of powerful products that put people in constant wonder. They were slick and intuitive; they just made sense and were better than anything else. Not only did Apple push the innovation on a feature level, but they also integrated an overall experience. From purchasing, to opening the packing, to using the product, to getting technical support; every step was designed to make people feel great.

I recently came across a quote, in the middle of writing this post. I just thought it was a nice way to end this story:

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

 

Marco Gervasio

 

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