Steve has been involved in new product development for over 30 years. His design, research and leadership experience has focused primarily on housewares and consumer electronics products, diagnostic and surgical instruments as well as industrial equipment. As the President of Big Bang, he has been instrumental in the definition of NPD strategies, end-user research, moderation of Idea Farming events and the alignment of designers and engineers with client challenges. Steve received his BS of Industrial Design from Michigan State University and spent 5 years with General Electric Plastics (SABIC). He has served as guest lecturer and design juror at Georgia Institute of Technology, Auburn University, Michigan State University and Rochester Institute of Technology. Steve is a past President and board member of the Georgia chapter of the Product Development & Management Association (PDMA), a current member of IDSA and board member of TEDxPeachtree.
Experiential Brand Language — The Missing Connection
Have you ever picked up a river stone and held it? There’s something about the shape, smoothness, and warmth/coolness of the rock that feels good in your hand. These characteristics create a cause and effect relationship. An experience is created and the effect is a calming emotional connection.
This phenomenon is present in all products and services. Attributes that users aren’t conscious of can often define their experience of a product. Our senses ignite in the very first moments of interaction, and if designed thoughtfully, can generate a powerful experience and lasting emotional connection.
We created the term Experiential Brand Language, or XBL, to describe the array of interaction points that are branding opportunities. An XBL can include anything in the categories of sensory, engagement, and interactive. The range of these categories is a testament to the number of opportunities, or touch points, available to reinforce a brand. The goal is to create a positive emotional connection by crafting an experience that both connects to the product’s brand promise and engages a user.
A brand experience exists whether it’s been deliberate or not. It’s an unsettling realization that the product experience can be arbitrary, but this is very common. If it isn’t clearly and thoughtfully defined and communicated, anyone in the development cycle can define or effect it, without understanding the brand or the intended experience.
Using the XBL Pyramid as a guide, the process moves from the user to a company perspective and includes archaeological audits of a brand, product assets, development of XBL guidelines, and maintenance of the XBL beyond initial product or service release. The XBL is relevant to businesses no matter their size, from startups to fortune 500s. The approach is adaptive and scalable. It can evolve, build, or connect a brand depending on its size.
Don’t leave user experience to chance. Every user touch point is an opportunity to establish a positive connection. Experiences create connections. Connections engage, inspire and build customer loyalty. Customer loyalty builds successful brands.