Three Types of Meaningful Experiences

Meaningful Experiences can be categorized into 3 categories and they all require planning and design like a nice wedding
All three types of Meaningful Experiences take planning thoughtful planning and execution, like setting up a bar for a wedding full of drinkers.

Meaningful experiences can be broken down into 3 categories for better understanding.

I was honored to be contacted by print/digital magazine Flow Experiences, asking me what I would class as such.  Ooooo… challenging question.  I like it.  After much thought and rapid fire braindumping on my morning commute, I broke it down into three general types – Emotional, Community Building, and Eye Opening. You can read about how this can help your organization in my previous blog post about Meaningful Experience.

  1. Emotional –   In regards to business, this is an experience where someone walks away unable to stop talking about what happened. They have connected with the experience you provided on a very emotional level.  Let’s hope you did this in a good way, unless that’s what you want or you’re into uphill battles. According to research, “88–96% of emotional experiences are shared and discussed to some degree.” They are unable to stop sharing, and in some cases creating a viral response.  When it’s good it should feel magical for the experiencer.  Everything lines up.  It’s not magic, it just feel like it.  It’s actually a well executed plan and action culled from research and prototyping.  Like a when a good catering company at a wedding gives excellent service, you don’t realize they are there.  You just walk away like, “OMG!! That wz purrfect! Txt me back!”  The drinks refilled themselves, the parents were pampered.  The bride and groom pampered.  All worries evaporated for one that one evening.  Everything is handled.  Smoothly.
  2. Community Building – Another type of Meaningful Experience is Community Building. This touches deeper chords in people. It helps create a sense of worth and belonging in the experiencer.  It can be a moral booster or the tension of facing a tough issue, like a cause to rally around.  Imagine attending a neighborhood’s annual carnival?  The music, the parade of local celebs throwing out candy to kids.  The beer is flowing.  You buddies with the guy sitting in the Dunk Tank.  You feel apart of it.  Every year Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood puts on an annual 4th of July Rock n Roll Carnival and Parade and it is a rowser of a party.  For a number of years I volunteered at it.  Not just for the free beer, but to see friends, dance, and unleash ice cold water out of massive squirt-cannons onto unsuspecting loved ones – who then immediately practiced valuable teamworking skills as they chased me down to make me pay for it.  See?  Deeper truths.  That carnival was ours.  It brought us together as a community.
  3. Eye-Opening – The third bucket is a Meaningful Experience that makes you come to a realization.  When someone has that holy moment. This, too, can delve into deeper truths.  An eye-opening meaningful experience is a big deal.  It can be completely awesome or horribly traumatic.  Let’s just say it leaves an impression.  An example of this is that moment when someone realizes that your product is seriously helping them out and making a difference in their lives.  Or, hopefully not for you, dear reader, when they realize that the product or service is a sham and making their life miserable.  Banks, governments, and Insurance agencies have had that reputation and are putting in time, money, and talent to change that.  Why do you think companies like Disney and Coca-Cola are hiring designers to help build their culture?

Meaningful Experiences can be tricky to wrap your mind around.  You know it when you’re in it.  When you can realize and break down what sort of experience it is, you can then see the machinations that come together to create it. You can see the magic behind the magic.  Flow Experience breaks Meaningful Experiences down into Emotional, Relationship-Building, and Exciting, which makes sense.  You should ask them about it.  I’m looking forward to reading their explanations.  Having these different categories should make it easier for you to decide what sort of experience you want to go for as your company works to create brand loyalty, sales, and more importantly, positive change in the world.



Write to and tell me what type of experiences your company is creating.

Robert Grossman is a Designer currently located in Chicago, IL.

Now check out this video of Why?’s Strawberries, which was shot in the middle of the annual Northside 4th of July Parade.