“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

There’s a reason this quote by Maya Angelou resonates with so many of us: feelings define our emotional state, and emotion heightens our ability to retain information and drives us to act. When transmitted effectively, emotion can convince people to commit to relationships­­—ideally, with your product or service.

That’s why you must consider emotion when designing—and not just in one or two places. If it’s going to deliver, emotional design needs to permeate every aspect of your brand’s look and feel. It needs to exist in every image, word, layout, and color choice you make. If your design is meant to evoke a feeling of calm, you shouldn’t use bold fonts or all caps. Nor should you opt for harsh visuals or strong colors. The design you create should reflect the brand's personality, and its sensibility should infiltrate all of your communications. By creating a serene effect through your choice of words and the visuals you apply, you can transform a lifeless product into a vibrant emotional bond with your audience.

Keep it simple, but pack a positive punch.

The most effective way to achieve this type of response is to concentrate on evoking one emotion instead of several. If you focus on simplicity, your message will reach your audience more quickly and convincingly.

Say, for instance, you’d like a friend to accompany you to an event even though you know she has other plans for the same night. You could bombard her with several reasons to skip her event and go with you, adding that you’ll pay for her ticket, drive her there, and lend her an outfit to wear. But actually, the most effective approach would be to remind her of another fun time you had together at a similar type of event. As you relive the experience and laugh about the memories of that evening, your friend will begin to wonder why she hasn’t already said yes. Before you know it, bingo, she’s changing her plans and going with you instead.

Emotion in design works the same way. By crafting a message that’s clear, concise, appealing, memorable, and consistent, you’ll forge a bond with your audience and establish trust and value. You’ve kept it simple, but loaded it with emotional depth.

Emotional design puts your audience first, and the product or service second.

In the example, above, you needed your friend to do YOU a favor and choose your event over her other plans, but you achieved your goal by evoking in her feelings of joy and belonging, and making the request all about HER needs. Emotional design works the same way. It transmits empathy for your audience and demonstrates that you can make their lives easier, happier, calmer, or (fill in the blank with the adjective that’s most appropriate to your work). It tells them that what you have to sell is valuable to them and exists to place them first, over and above your own goals. When your audience feels that they are a part of your brand, that they “belong,” they will feel that they’ve had their needs met. Ultimately, THAT will be the reason they commit to a relationship with you.