This year I've been working hard to listen better. Not only to our clients but also to my gut.

When I’m deep in the state of flow and busting out sweet designs I don’t think about listening. I just do.

But every now and then, I’m deeply stuck. Not the kind where I’m struggling with color palette or typography, but more of a metaphysical battle. Why am I even doing this?, I ask myself.

The answer is almost always connection. I want my design to connect your clients with their customers – and vice-versa.

So how do we, as designers, design for connection and relationships? How do you capture that in a brand refresh, a merch lineup or a simple landing page?

Simple. And I can't stress this enough:

Listening is EVERYTHING.

There’s a big difference between hearing and listening.

While the former is passive, the latter has an active, participatory magic to it.

Listening is picking up on nuances that make your design stand out. That lift your design from paper and into customers’ minds and hearts.

Listening results in microscopic shifts in the palette and giant increases in revenue.

Listening is the difference between a customer nodding in agreement and them being genuinely thrilled.

Wisdom from The Bear

If you haven’t seen The Bear, you stop everything and do that. Specifically, Season 2, Episode 7.

I can’t stop thinking about that episode where Richie stages at a fancy restaurant based on Alinea.

There’s a moment that beautifully reflects the impact of listening:

In a setting that thrives on the quality of experience like a Michelin star restaurant, listening to your customers – both implicitly and explicitly – is critical. And Richie picks up on it right away:

Let us remember what Vasudeva, the ferryman, said to Siddhartha along the banks of the Ganges.
He said, 'Listen better.’

This scene resonated with me on so many levels. Not just because of its depth, but because of its ubiquity. Across cultures, across disciplines, across industries.

In design, like in that restaurant, the customer experience is magnified when we listen better.

How Emerald listens

Over the years here at Emerald Design, we've found the more we listen, the better we design.

That's the beauty of active listening. It leads to intuitive (not far-fetched) design.

Listening lies at the heart of our success at Emerald Design. It's not just about doing the job. It's about doing it in a way that leaves an indelible mark on our clients and their customers.

Making people feel not just heard, but understood. And to be honest, in the competitive design world, it's these moments of connection that make all the difference.

Here are my final two cents: If you're on a quest for design perfection, remember it's not just about trendy UI buttons or Pantone’s color of the year. It's about the people behind those designs – their stories, dreams and thoughts.

We'll keep tuning in, listening and weaving those stories into our designs. If you want to get started on your next logo, product design or website, reach out to us.