Make empathy your new creative superpower

Make empathy your new creative superpower

“Do not judge your neighbour until you walk 2 moons in his moccasins.” Proverb

Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person is another way to try and understand what consumers want and need, and to give consumers themselves a fresh perspective. The augmented and virtual reality trend can help target audiences to be more empathetic – so see life through the eyes of a refugee or be transported to Mecca – via the award-winning app from the New York Times or the National Geographic’s Face Swap campaign that uses Snapchat-like technology to demonstrate empathy with others.

Companies like Ford are working to inject empathy into their businesses to develop better products. The car manufacturer has developed an empathy belly so its male engineers better understand a pregnant woman’s needs and can design better vehicles

Empathy is central to the principles of design thinking – espoused by some of the world’s most innovative companies like IDEO. Tools like the empathy map below can help get under the skin of consumers and customers and find new angles on old problems. Use this method to get a better idea of what moves your target audience. The idea is to spend a little time in the target audience’s world using insights if you have them/assumptions if you don’t.

  • Draw yourself a grid with 4 quadrants (like doing a SWOT)
  • What do you want your target audience to say, do, think and feel as a result of your activity? Write each of these into one quadrant.
  • Populate it with information/insights that you have. Where are they now?
  • What are the pain points in relation to your target and the issue at hand?
  • What is there to gain? Where could your brand/product/service help out?

 As Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s masterly Thinking Fast and Slow told us we are ruled by emotional (system 1) rather than rational thinking (system 2). On an unconscious level we are going through a vast range of variables to make decisions – what does this make me feel? Does it make me feel good about who I am? Does it give off the right impression to others? Using tools that leverage empathy and the power of emotions can be useful ways to walk those two moons in someone else’s shoes.

This article first appeared here in December 2016.

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