Design and Human Connection
How experiential design can help re-build an authentic sense of community.
As humans, we’re social beings and connecting with others is what makes us tick, it’s what makes us thrive.
Covid-19 turned life as we knew it turned upside down. Beyond the health risks and economic uncertainty, our innate social natures were quickly compromised. We were thrown into the unknown and our usual social activities all but ended overnight. Suddenly all interaction – beyond the people we lived with – happened over Zoom, FaceTime, or social media. Talking to people was now a scheduled call, over a screen. Chance encounters and spontaneity became obsolete.
And while we all grappled with this alien way of living, brands also faced the challenge of connecting with their audience during a time when in-person interaction was no longer possible and there was a fight for attention in a noisy digital space.
Increasingly, consumers are looking for more than just a transactional relationship with brands. They want something meaningful. According to Salesforce’s 2018 State of the Connected Customer report, “84 percent of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.”
Authentic human connection, in other words, is paramount. And for brands to truly resonate with their audience, focusing on this sense of connection is more important than ever.
Creating meaningful brand experiences during lockdowns
Most people – and brands – turned online to connect during the pandemic. And understandably so. The technology was there, and it was a safe space when so many other options were out of reach. But it’s no secret that we’ve also all experienced Zoom fatigue over the past 18 months. The quizzes of the beginning of the pandemic have petered out, as have the virtual Friday night drinks. And most of us have feigned a bad WiFi connection so we can switch our camera off during a meeting at least once.
Some are moving into the audio space to counteract that over stimulation of video. According to WGSN, the number of podcast listeners in the US alone will increase 16% year-over-year to more than 106m listeners. And just think of the rise of Clubhouse in 2020 – the audio-based social network in a space usually dominated by visual platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
Creating meaningful brand experiences post-lockdown
But in a world where we can get almost everything we need online, what’s clear is how important in-person connection still is.
Catching up with the people we know and love. Making new acquaintances. Stepping out of our usual social circles and hearing a different point of view. It’s what keeps the world going.
So how can we bring people together in these post-lockdown periods? Get togethers are suddenly more poignant. They’re more considered, somehow, as though every small interaction with someone beyond your closest circle means something, in a way it perhaps didn’t before. Experiences are now for rebuilding those relationships – and for supporting your local community, local businesses, local areas, and local people.
At Studio Messa, we’ve done that with Chandon. The Chandon at Home series we developed with the brand involved influencers in different cities across Australia inviting guests into their home to enjoy a lunch and get a taste of the new Chandon branding and positioning. It was about reconnecting, enjoying one another’s company and allowing more authentic connections. It was intimate and casual, rather than overbearing. An ‘easing in’ to socialising in person again.
The bottom line: using authentic event design will build brand loyalty.
As so many of us have spent time away from our friends and families during this time, positive memories will become more important as we ease out of the pandemic. For brands, this means a chance for them to create experiential events that are meaningful and intimate, giving their audience something positive to hold onto and building a platform for trust in return.