Random Acts of Cardness

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Or, How Pilot PMR Engineers for Delight

At Pilot we call our process Story Design. People seem to respond keenly to these two words cozied up against each other. But there’s rigour behind the beautiful juxtaposition. Story Design is guided by a handy measurement tool we created to gauge narrative resonance. Among the five criteria we look for, there’s one you might not expect: delight!

While UX designers are well versed in the idea of solving for delight, it can sometimes strike branding neophytes as curious. Delight? Isn’t that for making sure groove is indeed located in the heart? Of course. But surprise and delight are also essential to a great story. While not all stories are I See Dead People surprising, any brand or communications product wanting to gain attention needs to have a differentiating element of unexpected delight, a fresh reason to engage.

Cards for Humanity

Every year we try to dazzle with a meaningful Pilot New Year’s card, as it’s the one time of the year we print something fancy and mail it to all the clients and colleagues we hold dear. This year we made compliment cards, a deck of fifteen sweet nothings to share with friends, colleagues, and strangers alike. Over the past month we’ve received many fantastic responses, as our deck recipients dole out their kindnesses. And we think this glorious response is thanks to delight.

Giving the cards to friends and strangers sends a shiver up your spine. You watch as a person is surprised by the compliment. It’s a delightful salutatory ambush. The exchange creates goodwill on both sides. 

Shortcut to Praise

So often we mean to tell people when they do great work, but we don’t. The day gets in the way, and the moment passes. Our compliment cards are a handy shorthand. The words you need are at the ready. And if you place your compliment cards in a hard to miss spot, you’ll remember to dispense them as greatness demands. 

A friend and his son gave each other a challenge a few years ago. Each month they had to compliment at least one person they didn’t know. For my friend this has meant writing a note of ‘good show’ to everyone from the world’s best waiter to people he meets for only a few minutes on the street. The challenge has continued long after its origin year because both men find the assignment so delightfully rewarding. 

Of course, personalizing the compliment is key to engineering delight. The experience must be unique and authentic. I need to feel that the lady who complimented my turquoise patent-leather biking heels doesn’t toss off the same words to everyone who pedals past. 

Our cards are meant to be annotated and customized so the sentiments are as close to personal as one can get. Because there’s no such thing as mass-produced delight, Wonka Bars notwithstanding. With luck, our decks will help build up the complimenting muscle. By the way, have you been working out? You’re looking really strong lately.

Do you want to design for delight? Get in touch.

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