Where Design and Strategy Collide
Simply having a great product is no longer enough to win a customer. Today, firms also have to make customers feel good about the company, as well as themselves. When a company does this with its products and services, it has created the "predictable magic" that can revolutionize the way it establishes long-term customers. The "magic" the authors of Predictable Magic reference in their book's title stems from the power that businesses receive when they tap into the hearts and minds of consumers like great designers.
Very few business experts understand this interface between people and companies like Ravi Sawhney, the CEO and founder of the successful strategy, innovation and design firm RKS. He is famous among designers because he is responsible for developing the world's first touch-screen computer interfaces at Xerox. He is also the inventor of the Psycho-Aesthetics© design strategy that he and his co-author outline in Predictable Magic. This strategy, which can be used to design more value into companies and their offerings, provides a useful perspective on the ways consumers and companies interact.
Deepa Prahalad, the other author of Predictable Magic is the daughter of the late management consultant and author C.K. Prahalad. Like her father, she is also a respected management consultant with an impressive career in business strategy. Sawhney and Prahalad describe how firms can infuse their strategies with the emotional connectedness required to create the types of experiences that consumers embrace again and again.
The Psycho-Aesthetics Strategy
The Psycho-Aesthetics strategy is based on looking at business problems in a visual, design-oriented way. It involves connecting to people's emotions through design, services and experiences. It is not an easy approach to take to win customers, the authors write, but it is a deeply satisfying one for the companies that master it.
In the current market, empowered consumers show their lack of company loyalty by switching brands at the drop of a hat. Companies must learn more about the emotions that drive their consumers to use their products and services, the co-authors write. A satisfied customer is not enough. A consistently compelling emotional connection is what drives customers to return, Prahalad and Sawhney explain, and companies such as Apple, Southwest, Trader Joe's and Google have figured this out.
"It's not how you feel about the design," the authors write, "it's how it makes you feel about yourself." Consumers are not just looking to fulfill their needs, they explain. Instead, they want something more. When companies deliver an emotional payoff, they create raving fans and longtime customers. Emotions are necessary to complete the design process and they also help business leaders make better decisions when implementing their ideas. The authors write that companies can breathe new life into their products by empowering their clients with the innovative tools presented in Predictable Magic.
Throughout their book, Prahalad and Sawhney offer numerous ways to create deeper connections between a company and its consumers. They also offer dozens of examples that show how their ideas work in the real world. For example, a company called Minimed was able to successfully ramp up its business by creating a deeper emotional connection between its customers and its insulin pump. Originally, the pump they offered made customers feel like patients. Sales for their product hovered around $45 million. When the company redesigned its pump to look like a pager instead of a less-socially appealing piece of medical technology, patients responded to the change. Over the next three years, sales jumped to $171 million. When the company was sold to Medtronic, the price was $3 billion thanks to the emotional connection.
Predictable Magic is filled with surprising stories like this, and a complete process for repeating feats of customer connectedness. By showing company leaders how other firms have been able to profit and grow from the injection of a few essential elements of design thinking, Prahalad and Sawhney have created a clear and concise guide to a useful philosophy that puts consumers' emotional needs at the forefront of every decision.