Humanity in digital

Brands are waking up to the fact that customers want their experiences to be genuine and memorable rather than predictable and frictionless, and 2016 looks

set to be the year where user experience gives way to emotional experience.

How to make a baby

2016 will give birth to humanity in digital. It’s about adding human insights into creative ideas and being able to implement them in a digital world.

Emotional insights will influence creative output, UX will quickly be replaced by emotional experience (EX), digital transformation strategies will be driven by culture rather than tech and marketers with contemporary insights into human motives will lead the industry.

Get naked

If you want to meet your customers’ expectations in 2016, then the simplification of your business is going to be essential and digital transformation is at the top of most agendas.

The simplification of the world seems to be making it a shit load more complicated. We’re not sure if this is a symptom or a strategy – but it feels like it’s time to strip everything back a bit and reconnect with emotions.

The reality is that we’ve entered a new age. We’re no longer in the service economy but the experience economy and brands are realising that their customers want genuine and memorable emotional experiences.

Sometimes friction feels good… really, really good

UX is still a relatively new discipline, and has been built upon a few simple principles to make the experience frictionless. While this is certainly the best way to design a shopping cart it may not be the best way to approach all content.

For an experience to be memorable, we need to create a bit of cognitive strain and start thinking in terms of engaging EX over robotic UX. Predictable and frictionless experiences are unengaging and almost impossible to remember. Games without difficulty are boring and could never become addictive.

Good UX has been partly responsible for the suppression of real creativity in digital. We can build upon established UX disciplines and make the user think in a meaningful way – to wake them up rather than sending them to sleep.

Blow their brains out

Even though this is possibly the trickiest idea to accept, all neuroscientists agree that our perceptions and decisions are arrived at as a result of complex, non-conscious processes:

  • We are responding to stimulus that we are not consciously aware of.
  • We respond emotionally first and logically as an after-thought.
  • We cannot make a logical decision without involving our emotions.
  • We are not able to articulate our complex emotional processes – so asking people why they did things is just crazy.

Neuromarketing tools give us access to our non-conscious, emotional processing: we can measure perception, attention, distraction, emotional arousal and motivation in split-second real-time. This allows us to make better decisions, de-risk bold creative, make better predictions about audience response and fine-tune our work to create a better experience.

Neuromarketing offers extraordinary insight, but we need to remember that there is a difference between making something better and making something less rubbish. Making small ‘tweaks’ create a less negative experience; but that’s not the same as creating a better experience.

The magic happens when you blend the robust academic approach from neuromarketing with the cheeky rule-breaking rock’n’roll of great creative.

Do it with real people

Most digital agencies create ‘personas’; fictitious characters designed to make it easier to understand the user. Makes sense – but it can corrupt our thinking in two ways:

  1. We can begin to believe that the personas are the actual audience, and begin to eat the menu rather than the food.
  2. We can create logical messages based on our understanding of the persona, rather than engaging emotional messages based on empathising with the persona.

Creating personas is not a new thing in creative communication, but we need to remember why we do it – to empathise with the user, their opinions and, most importantly, their motives.

Our human motives are simple and there are a handful of great models for understanding intrinsic motivation (at Lab we have created a unique synthesis that we call monkey-lion-dog). Moving from the detail of the persona to the simplicity of the emotional motivation liberates the creative to generate more authentic, emotive content.

In a noisy world, having clarity about the simple emotional message and the experience you are creating is a powerful differentiator.

Neuromarketing 1.01

Beginning February 2016, Lab will be hosting a series of training courses that will make the most advanced ideas in Neuromarketing accessible and practical.

Led by world-renowned author Daryll Scott, director of human technology at Lab, the sessions are an opportunity for marketers to receive progressive training and future-focused insight to your marketing department.


Learn more about Neuromarketing from Lab and pre-register to claim your spot at Lab’s upcoming ‘Neuromarketing 101’ sessions at

Jonny Tooze, managing director, Lab

Tom Head, director, Lab

Daryll Scott, human technologist, Lab

Justin Thorne, head of strategy and performance marketing, Lab


Twitter: @LabDigitalUK

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.