Research and strategy were not taught in design school, at least while I was studying. But recognizing the emotional relationship between design and consumers is central to the product design process.
While working at Fossil, I recognized consumers buy clothing and accessories not only to accentuate their personality but also to create a unique personality. The brand is used to project who they want to be.
Strategy, not design, comes first. Strategy drives all of the choices made. Designing to your preference leads to your happiness. Designing to your audience leads to sales. In all things – from typography to tone of voice to imagery and icons – serve the relationship with the customer, not your bias.
After all, you never truly own the relationship. How your audience thinks, feels, and ultimately behaves is beyond your control. Successful products realize their customers’ aspirations and discover how to fulfill their customers’ dreams.