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Emotion By Design: Creative Leadership Lessons

Emotion By Design

EMOTION moves people and creates attachment. A brand that constructs powerful emotional bonds with its consumers generates a reaction that gives it a unique competitive advantage. It is emotion by design.

In Emotion by Design, former Nike global brand leader Greg Hoffman says that “art and marketing can fulfill the same ends, and should often try to fulfill the same ends.” Guiding that idea is the understanding that “art only moves people when they feel inspired or heard or driven to excellence.”

As brand marketers, our job is to show the world to our audience in novel, insightful, and at times provocative ways. We do this with our ability to see the insights and the truths that others miss, and reveal those insights and truths to our audience through the means of images, films, campaigns, architecture, and products. Whatever the medium, we share our brand’s values and purpose through insightful stories that move our audience, that elicit a specific emotion, and that build lasting bonds between consumer and brand.

It all begins with empathy. “Our ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else is what allows us to get to the deeper truths and begin fashioning a story around them.” And, of course, curiosity. “Curiosity is the catalyst for creativity. It’s what allows you to see opportunities and harness the inspiration to seize them.” It’s about getting outside yourself.

Reaching people in new and different ways requires some risk. Many leaders are uncomfortable with the creative risk-taking and rein it in before it even gets started. But to create that emotional bond with your consumers, you need to cultivate a culture of risk-taking. While this doesn’t mean throwing all caution to the wind, it does mean that you incentivize it. “Does an organization actively reward bold ideas? Does the leadership team make time to listen to those ideas? If an unconventional idea doesn’t work, are the creators encouraged to try again?” For Hoffman, that means not playing safe but playing to win. To lead from the front and let your competition react.

He notes that “Innovation breakthroughs are rarely created with caution.” And importantly, “We do not take risks because we want to try something new. We take risks because we want to create new modes of thought, of communication, of engagement. We take risks because the world never stops turning and the consumer’s expectations never stop expanding.”

What do consumers see when they see you? It is an ongoing story. “The best stories have one thing in common: They touch on the human imagination and elicit an emotional response.” In example after example, he gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the team at Nike did just that—communicated their story in a way that connected with different people in different contexts. Their “Find Your Greatness” campaign redefined what it meant to be great for each one of us, and it expanded their relatability.

Hoffman advises that we should not chase cool. “There are cool trends, but no one’s created an icon by following a trend. You create an icon by starting a trend. If you chase one, then you’re probably trying to be something you’re not—and consumers are experts on exposing inauthenticity.” Be who you are, and get cool to chase you.

One way to do this is to “play in the intersections.” Be curious. “Don’t stay in your lane. Merge into other currents that share your brand values. By crossing paths with the worlds of art, music, and beyond, you can invite new consumers into your brand and, in turn, have a greater impact on culture.”

If you’re looking for inspiration and greater impact, Emotion by Design will get you looking in the right direction and help you to spark your own revolution.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:54 PM
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