Story of Joy

Most car ads are lame, so it came as a surprise when I found myself connecting with the new BMW ad.

It’s about cars being more than just machines which get us from A to B, because lets face it, cars have been doing that successfully for decades. And the same is true of most mature products…they just do their thing, whether that’s making toast, or processing emails, or cutting grass.

What really distinguishes a product is how it makes us feel. Every day I interact with hundreds of different products. If one of those products makes me feel good then that’s a pretty big deal, because over the course of a year that’s a serious amount of satisfaction.

So what does that mean for a designer? It means making things which are cool and characterful, where every detail has been conceived with the customer in mind. Just look at the big success stories of the last decade:

  • Amazon has a legendary reputation for customer service. They used to make their desks out of old doors, because spending money on swish furniture wasn’t going to improve the customer’s experience.
  • Zappos, the American shoe retailer, would surprise customers by sending their packages next-day delivery, even when the customer hadn’t requested it.
  • Apple ships products which are ready to use straight out of the box: a rare thing in the PC industry.

They all put customer satisfaction at the core of their business. And as human beings we’re hardwired to search out pleasurable experiences. If a product or service makes me feel great, why would I go elsewhere?