Event Recap: Modern Experience Design Starts and Ends with Consumers

MIMA Event: Modern Experience Design was held March 21, 2018 at the Minneapolis Central Library.

“The value of brand interaction sits in the consumers’ world.”

In these 10 words, Adrian Ho, CEO and founding partner of Zeus Jones, essentially defined modern experience design today—and how brands need to adjust to be successful tomorrow. Adrian outlined how modern experience design sits at the nexus of two opposing transformations.

  1. Customer Journeys
  2. Brand Models

Understanding these transformations will allow brands to achieve the modern experiences of today, which are “self-contained, functional and emotional interactions that operate at multiple levels of scale.”

Transformation 1: Customer Journeys

Think of the straight line that traditionally has defined customer journeys, with awareness on the far left, purchase on the far right, and research and consideration in between. Now, put the ruler away and disregard the linear, sequential path altogether. In its place, Adrian says, is a modular, user-drive journey with multiple cross-channel engagement points.

Social media and 24-7 digital and mobile access have put users in the driver’s seat. The onus is on companies to understand that all the interactions a user has while bouncing around within a brand experience are valuable, even when a transaction doesn’t take place.

“Journey stages are stacking on top of each other,” Adrian says. “It’s interaction that’s completely self-contained.”

This evolution in customer journey brings challenges. In short, the journey has too many paths for a brand to account for while trying to engage. The solve? Adrian says to focus on emotional marker moments. These moments allow brands to over-deliver on emotions in a few places without having to design for every path.

Marker moments are important to remember during a time when social, mobile, digital and physical are converging, Adrian says. Think of Nike+ Running as an example. Whether visiting a brick-and-mortar store sifting through Swoosh-branded gear, using a Nike device to track your mileage during marathon training (with your Nike+ Run Club friends), or logging and sharing that mileage through your Nike+ app, one’s journey with Nike is unpredictable and multi-faceted.

It’s difficult to design an experience for every one of those brand touch-points. Even for Nike. And that’s the point. Don’t try. Pick your spots. Design for those spots. Engage and move consumers through the journey—following their lead.

Transformation 2: Brand Models

Like customer journeys, brand models are also facing disruption. Traditional brand models were built for traditional media. That reliance on one-way communication from brand to mass audience has changed and will continue to change. Brand models are evolving as a result.

Adrian says that traditionally, brand models were built on “Product Dominant Logic.” Here, brands are a form of value, and traditional brands were built upon a one-way communication of value from company to consumer. The logic is grounded in the fact that companies develop and manufacture a product and deliver it to a consumer in a linear fashion.

Then came the shift to “Service Dominant Logic.” Here, “brands are co-created in the marketplace—by the brand and the consumer,” Adrian says. Zeus Jones developed a modern brand model that was built around collaboration with groups of consumers and communities. Still, though, the interaction between consumers and brands has evolved even further.

Technology, social media, influencers, and 24-7 media coverage and content creation all shape a brand’s perceived value in a heartbeat. As a result, people can change the way they feel about a brand overnight. Enter “Customer Dominant Logic.”

Here, consumers’ past experiences, context and culture have a much larger impact on the value of a company’s activities. These seismic shifts means value today is created by consumers and given to brands, says Adrian.

With that in mind, Adrian outlines the elements of great modern experience design that brands can follow. Modern experiences must:

  • be self-contained but exist within a larger story
  • deliver on full scope of a customer journey
  • be tailored to the consumers’ experiences
  • fit the brand within the context of the customers’ interaction
  • situate the brand within a larger cultural context and set of ideas

In addition to the above elements, it’s important that brands never forget a simple reminder from Adrian that outlines how they should live and market themselves in a consumer-driven world:

Says Adrian: “Brands are defined by what they do, not what they say.”

Written by MIMA Marketing Committee volunteer Chris Matt

Join us for two events in April: Coffee and Case Studies, which features Weber Shandwick and Slalom, and our April event: Unlocking the Potential of Your Digital Marketing Investments, where Dale Nitschke, founder and CEO of Ovative/group, will talk to us about how marketers should be reframing their measurement mindset to think more about how their investments are impacting the business at large.

Gina Micek


Integrated marketing strategist, writer, storyteller and adventurer. I am a builder with skills in relationship building and telling compelling stories that drive connections.