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How do we create meaningful experiences?

Think about your favourite brand. Does it pop into your head right away?

It might not be obvious at first but as you come up with your top choice think about why it’s your favourite. This type of thought experiment may be banal but you gain a lot of insight about yourself based on the brands you like. One question you should ask is whether that brand has created extraordinary value in your life. Did it blow your socks off?

“The highest level of value you can attain is a meaningful experience.” — Darrel Rhea

At its core brands are all about experience but experience happens at different levels of value. This was Darrel Rhea‘s view at a recent RGD conference I attended. He believes that you can have five levels of experience with a brand.

Economic experiences live on a monetary level like when you get a really good deal on something. Functional experiences have more to do with utility like when a purchase was useful in helping you better understand something. Emotional value is derived from a visceral experience relating to deep inward feelings rather than intellect. A level above those is an identity experience where you acquire a level of status that signals who you are to your peers.

Rhea believes the highest level of value you can attain is a meaningful experience. Meaning is not about significance but about the stuff that inspires you. A brand that’s meaningful aligns with your outlook in life and in some cases might even define you.

Nathan Shedroff points out that all design is the process of making experiences and meaningful experiences are more powerful than price and performance. As designers our challenge is to elevate the brands we work with beyond novelty so they not only become adopted but have a deep resonance with those who use them.

Peter Horvath More posts by Peter Horvath