Psycho-Aesthetics: An Integrated Approach to Innovation and Design
Confronting two of the major challenges in the design process—creating rich, actionable consumer insight and fostering more effective collaboration—led to the development of Psycho-Aesthetics. This framework makes it possible to systematically understand the emotional reactions of consumers to products, services, and experiences.
Just like the consumer marketplace, new tools and concepts have to connect with the stakeholders they are designed for...Capturing data and intuition in one place is a goal that remains elusive in most firms. Spreadsheets get updated far more often than assumptions about consumer behavior. Through our work with large corporations and entrepreneurial firms, we saw how business decisions about branding, channels, and pricing could weaken the impact of new concepts. The need for aligning strategy and design became obvious. Strategy without design is just good research. Design without strategy is just a good idea.
The case studies we share here span the range from start-ups to long-established, well-known firms. They are meant as an illustration of how to use emotional insight to guide the design process and to show the framework in practice across a wide range of industries. However, a single great design will not create lasting business success. Nor are we making the case that design can save a dying category or overcome inadequate funding, lack of corporate support, or flawed business models. Many good designs are quickly dismissed, and the best ones are quickly copied. Companies therefore need to innovate constantly to stay on top, and a predictable process for doing so can dramatically increase the odds of success. We know that the design process can be made more collaborative (for all stakeholders), efficient, and consistent with the right tools. And when design and strategy work well together, it can create new categories, transform industries, and drive financial results.
Psycho-Aesthetics is compelling because it creates efficiency in a complex undertaking—understanding the consumer. Technology has enabled the collection of large amounts of trend data. The problem is, all this data and measurement can create analysis paralysis in which companies cannot turn information into actionable insights. Measuring everything doesn't create insight any more than eating everything creates health. This methodology enables executives and designers to zero in on the data that matters because it gives them a means to create a compelling consumer experiences.