Here at Office Twelve we hear our clients use the phrase ‘experiential design’ quite often, a broad term to say the least. But what does it actually mean? Great experiential design is something that evokes an emotional connection to amplify richer brand engagement, it straddles the gap between the product offering and the brand promise. Here are some admirable examples that utilise different mechanisms to engage with their target audiences.

Coca-Cola and Netflix’s Stranger Things launched a one day only pop-up arcade in Shoreditch back in July. The experience was designed to celebrate the launch of the third series, set in 1985 the year that Coco-Cola introduced the New Coke recipe.

The space took the shape of the show’s arcade, plus The Upside Down from the globally loved science fiction series. Filled with 80’s games including the Dragon’s Lair, also featured in the show. Guests could win prizes via a live gaming leader board, endless Instagram moments and taste Coco-Cola’s sugar free drinks. And for those with the most knowledge of the show got to experience the secret Upside Down, hidden within the space.

Nice work! Why? Because cleverly Coco-Cola is playing on nostalgia, Stranger Things only supports this as we all know that’s what the show does best. Both Coke and ST lovers are fully immersed into the experience creating emotional connections more quickly by absorbing people into the nostalgic experience. Providing that impossible to experience anywhere else feeling, apart from the then and there.

Swiss bag maker FREITAG has opened a Micro Factory in Zurich’s District 4, Sweat-Yourself-Workshop. Freitag’s famous TARP bags are undoubtedly the focus, specifically the F718 BUH, the recycled, super individual shopping bag that is exclusive to the very elegantly designed Sweat-Yourself-Shop. A space that allows customers to create their very own, one of a kind model.

Fully recycled lorry tarp, car seat belts and discarded bicycle inner tubes make up the materials palette to create these unique bags. People can interact with the tools and machinery to design and make their own version of the classic.

Not only is this an interactive and engaging experience of the brand, it’s also designed to educate the customers in sustainable manufacturing. This experiential design receives top marks from us because it is not just your standard customisation location, this experience ties in with the brands ethos.

This isn’t about just choosing colours, this is about physically being part of the production process, creating something completely unique and personal, something that they will forever remember, the sweat that went into the making of the bag they have on their shoulder.

If this experience was carried out online there is a very slim chance, you would remember the process, never mind committing to the purchase at the end. However, by creating something that is physically engaging, that allows you to touch, feel, see, smell before you even get into the production phases. That will stick, stay, be recalled, fostering a greater brand affinity.

Experiential design at its finest and somewhere outside of the brand world. Boomtown had its first festival way back into 2009, skip forwards to this year and it enjoyed over 66k visitors. Bands, musicians, performers and actors become part of the experience, mingling with the crowds bringing multisensory and sometimes challenging moments which are all designed to add to the ambience.

Each year there is a new story, characters and adventures to be discovered. Themed districts made from walkways and streets evolve from glimpses into the future to way back when scenes. At the turn of every corner, Boomtown has the ability to shift people’s senses as they navigate through the site.

Experiential design in full force. Boomtown delivers true escapism, through its design it creates a sense of wonderment, its taps into curiosity and the intuitive desire to get involved and escape from the real world. The success in the growth of Boomtown shows how effective it is to create emotive and meaningful connections with audiences through the power of experiential design.

Experiential design is nothing new, although some claim it to be. What we are beginning to see now is brands starting to embrace experiential design as part of their ethos that is transcending into retail spaces, pop-ups, events and campaigns. Brands are beginning to realise that experiences aren’t about putting things in people’s basket. Which let’s be frank, can be done practically anytime and anywhere.

Brands are becoming more aware of the importance of experiential design and its ability to go further and deeper to build real tangible and relevant connections that resonate with their customers. But more importantly, focus on allowing the person enjoying the experience to clearly understand the brands ethos on a deeper level, demonstrating product or service benefits that in turn will result in stronger brand loyalty. Social platforms are a great tool and allow such experiences to reach far beyond the initial user and reach huge global audiences. Brands need to understand that it’s not just about someone being able to recall from memory their brand logo, but the more important task of creating memories.

The reason we love these examples is because experiential design is about creating something unique that needs to be experienced first-hand, not through an Instagram post. The designs are about creating exclusive and fascinating emotionally connected experiences that are there to be enjoyed in the here and now.

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