What is heart-led innovation?

Design is now a table stake in business (see, for example, a recent interview with Ivy Ross, Vice President, Design and User Experience for Hardware Products at Google). We can no longer solve problems through utility alone. We have to give our products and experiences an emotional appeal. It is something that is intangible and difficult to do, but it is what people value, which in turn will drive customer purchases and retention.

We believe heart-led design is at the core of creating engaging products that curate rich experiences rather than drive action alone. Much like we must add personality to our information, rather than simply amassing data (The Business Romantic), to make it readable and useful to consumers, we must add focus, intention, and thought to product design and user experiences. At Purple, we call that process heart-led innovation.

What is heart-led design? It is a multi-factor approach in which connection and the human experience drive invention; function is balanced with delight and purpose; and purity of intention guides design. The fundamental principles include:

  1. Having a pure, focused value proposition. Designers must choose a core value proposition and make all decisions around that. Cutting out everything else avoids feature creep and allows you to deliver a clear message to your consumers.
  2. Your materials, just like all other aspects of your design, should reflect your value proposition. Basically, you must dress the part, as you only get one chance at a first impression. Companies should put extra effort into choosing the right materials that bring out their brand value and tie back to the core value proposition. Consumers are smart and will pay for quality.
  3. Products are stories that consumers buy into and become a part of. As an innovator, you must know who you are and what brand values you want to project or communicate through both your product and the user experience you offer. Product choices should add to your overall story, not distract from it.
  4. Exploration and discovery throughout the experience makes it exciting and fun. Consumers should always want to come back to the product and reengage with the experience. Each time should be delightful and new - you never know what you may find.
  5. Always keep in mind your customers’ experience of the feature you are designing. Relationships are about compromise and the one between users and product designers is no different. Your vision for your product may not fit exactly with how your end-customers ultimately engage with the product so flexibility and a willingness to change directions are crucial.

This design philosophy is key to creating successful and engaging products by creating long term value for customers, but it requires commitment from company leadership. Heart-led innovation is more than just an approach to design; it is an ethos that also drives business models, partner selection, team structure, and internal systems. In that way, sentiment and purpose imbue every aspect of a product’s life cycle from inception to commercialization. The result are truly beautiful products that capture consumers’ imaginations and hearts, that intuitively lead them forward, and become an essential part of their daily rituals.

~ The Purple Team