Monday, February 13, 2012

Wander into the Wanderlust Hotel.

As part of our Designing extrovertic initiative (see my previous Designing the Service Business Model post), our ECD Tom Millar gave us a quick overview of the principles of good design. Most of this was new to me. (I have zippo artistic talent and as a kid was so bad at arts & crafts that my mother wouldn't even let me use scissors in front of my younger sister—so I appreciated the refresher!)

As we learned, one of the key elements of good design is purpose. Everything should have a reason for being there. But something having a purpose doesn’t have to be synonymous with it being utilitarian. The beauty of good design is that it can be creative while also being useful.

The collateral advertising for the Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore is a prime example of this. The pieces transcend their usual function to resonate more deeply with the core purpose of Wanderlust’s clientele. I was exposed to an example of their collateral work during a Designing extrovertic field trip to an exhibit at AIGA’s NYC branch entitled AIGA 365/Design Effectiveness.

The winning Wanderlust collateral, designed by Foreign Policy Design Group, really stood out. I was especially impressed with how they reinvented the "almost-useless conventional in-room directory," to quote their AIGA presentation. The designers discerned that the room directory could serve a higher purpose than merely correctly locating the hotel gym. Foreign Policy Design Group understood the personality traits of the prototypical Wanderlust guest and their desire for personal growth through exploration. The room directory is a direct reflection of this.

The type of guest who checks into the Wanderlust hotel is "curious and interested in discovering, engaging and immersing in new experiences." So the in-room directory was morphed into an itinerary, full of useful local information including "area maps, train and bus maps, local shops and restaurants as well as thoughtful blank pages for notes and sketches."

The reimagined in-room directory led to a redesigned check-in procedure. As the exhibit notes detail, the itinerary has "improved the check-in workflow, converting a laborious and dreaded check-in process into something fun, a talking point." This proves that one small design element can trigger a cascade of changes that lead to an improved overall brand experience. And the results? The hotel has been featured in core travel publications including Travel & Leisure, has appeared on almost 500 blogs, and its room occupancy rates have risen.

I wondered, could we create a similarly transformative effect by applying this principle to our clients’ patient materials? Can we reimagine a healthcare brand's collateral? What happens if the patient pamphlet becomes a pathway leading towards health, rather than merely a way to convey basic product information? Could infusing a higher-order purpose into a pamphlet set off a cascade of changes leading to better health? 

What do you think? 


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