Joyful Design 07


By injecting meaning and context to experiences, we trigger an emotional response that can either be happiness, compassion, surprise or amazement. Those emotional responses can in turn trigger a joyful experience. In the following we will explore design considering compassion/empathy to trigger a joyful experience.

There are two sides to consider, when speaking about compassion in design—this blogpost will outline the first one:

1) Design that shows compassion—which leads to a joyful experience because we feel understood by the Brand/Product/Design

2) Design that evokes compassion—and in a further (optional step) enables us to support a good cause, which can lead to an even more joyful experience.

Nowadays customers exactly want to be informed about brands values and goals—they want brands to feel their challenges, to feel friendly and trustworthy. And foremost, they want to feel a connection—being on a same wavelength, having the same mindest and ethical values—almost like a friendship.

Show Compassion

From a consumer point of view brands should be genuine and transparent. Transparency is a way to connect with the consumer on an emotional level and lead the consumer to believe that the brand understands their struggles, maybe even shares them—this creates compassion and connection, presenting a brand as “just like you.” [1]

By considering empathy in design strategy, a well-grounded base for creating joyful design experience can be established. Smartly used, empathy can create a strong connection to the customer, which turns brands into so called “love brands” and furthermore enables a joyful (brand) experience.

Brands, at their best, tap into who we are. We stick with a brand because we feel it fits us or fits our lifestyle

“If you think about your favorite ads or piece of content you couldn’t wait to share, a big part why it’s a favorite is, because there is some insight in there, some nuance that is so true, so funny or so relevant to who you are and where you are in that moment of time.”—Dana Neujahr.

Compassion in marketing is a crucial component in the creation of consumer personas and in establishing a deep connection to people on an emotional level.

Example: Pinterest [2]

Online searches for anxiety quotes on Pinterest increased 8x year-over-year and searches for how to support someone with depression have doubled. In consideration of those statistics Pinterest made some effort to ensure the well-being of users by developing in-app coping exercises with support from emotional health experts at Brainstorm at the Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation, Vibrant Emotional Health, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

The exercises provide interactive ideas for improving wellbeing with the help of tools that help to relax and exercise. As an example, a search for “stress relief” may populate options ranging from journaling, drawing or painting nature scenes, or making a playlist.” Fast-forward to today, 10 new exercises have been added targeted specifically towards people at risk of self-harm or injury.

“Everything we do is in service of helping people feel more inspired ….These experts continue to help us better understand different emotional states, including the unique needs of people who search for self-harm. If we can help even one person feel more optimistic, we know that’s time well spent,”—Co-Founder and Chief Creative and Design Officer Evan Sharp

Example: Hallmark “Just Because” Mini Greetings [3]

Showing appreciation and practicing empathy should not only be considered for major subjectives but also for little things in life—a message which has been considered by Hallmarks Mini Greetings Series “Just Because”. The Concept is the simple belief that every day we as humans encounter moments that are equally deserving celebration and recognition. A tiny, but smart gesture that sparks a moment of joy.

“We did some insightful work that let us understand that in today’s society, especially with all the divisive, challenging things around us, people are craving things that are positive and good…While the line is about putting more good in the world, it does not shy away from the dark times,”— Hallmark Cards CMO Lindsey Roy.

The backstory of this particular initiative hits home for Roy who was involved in a tragic boating accident that left her with an amputated left leg in addition to other severe injuries. The results were overwhelmingly positive, incentivizing current loyal customers to buy more cards, attracting new customers and spurring social media conversations.

“With so many ways to stay in touch, it’s amazing to see what a card can do to go above and beyond to show someone how you feel or to tell them you’re thinking of them.”—Hallmark Cards CMO Lindsey Roy

Hallmark ran a 20-week ‘Free Card Friday’ promotion allowing people to get a ‘Just Because’ card for free. This empathetic business cycle is an important one. “By tapping into a deep understanding of what matters to consumers, Hallmark found heightened success and business profitability, in turn, allowing the company to build more opportunities to serve their purpose of helping people find ways to care for their loved ones.”—Erica Perry.

By putting empathy first, Pinterest and Hallmark perfectly illustrate how to build a connection to people and how to use empathy as an approach to establish memorable, joyful experiences on a personal level.


[1] Forbes. 4 Things You Need To Know About Empathy To Build A Successful Brand. (Sep 23, 2018,04:09pm EDT) URL:

[2] Perry, Erica: Socialmediaweek. 4 Brands and Platforms Applying the Economics of Empathy. (January 17th, 2020) URL:

[3] ebda.