Brand Strategy Marketing Campaign Brand Design Boldfish

Design empathy & brand storytelling

Design empathy

When I studied graphic design at university we learned how our creative concepts needed to be refined with a focus on typography, grid based compositions, brand consistency to achieve a professional result for our future customers. While those skills still remain relevant today I have also gained an appreciation for the importance of empathy in design. Empathy in design is simply taking the time to find out more end user research and absorbing it into your thinking to guide your design decision-making processes. Beyond a typical SWOT analysis, an empathic design approach can help us understand how people behave, feel and tackle the problems in their lives with the use of our products and services. Once we have established these needs we can tailor and accommodate the users’ constraints, practices, problem solving approaches and contexts so we can compliment their capabilities for a better overall consumer experience and a more meaningful connection.

Brand storytelling

One problem solving approach to connect with your customers in a meaningful way is through the use of stories. Audiences gravitate toward content that has meaning and relevance and exceptional storytelling is one way to help create a memorable connection to your brand. Storytelling creates experiences that resonate with people. When we were young, our parents read us bedtime stories that were designed to engage us while also often teaching us fundamental morals. We use stories for these life lessons because they’re interesting, and memorable. In the same way, strategic storytelling is the perfect way to creating meaning and purpose so people can better understand, align and advocate your brand. A powerful story presented well visually is more impactful and more likely to be shared and circulated as opposed to a more clinical, features and benefits focused message.

Authentic stories

Good storytelling is not about inventing a story or even necessarily about your products / services. It’s about creating a narrative that helps connect more effectively. One approach is to be personal, compelling and factual by simply clarifying what your voice is, what you stand for and most importantly why it matters to the lives of the audience. Consider about how your brand was born and what inspired you to create the company in the first place. It’s about the very reason why your business exists so don’t be afraid to share stories about where you’ve come from (even failures on the way) and where you want to go to help consumers relate to your brand and be a part of the journey. Storytelling can also be a successful tool in recruitment of like-minded employees by clarifying corporate values, culture and personal experiences.

Design and creativity are key differentiators for businesses looking to pull away from competitors and deliver the best experiences for their customers. By being more empathetic to the end customers experience and through the use of alternative ways of connecting like storytelling we can align and present our brands values and offerings in more meaningful and effective ways.

Rohan Berzins
Creative Director – Boldfish


Rohan is the founder of the brand-led creative agency Boldfish ( specialising in brand strategy, campaigns and communications. He brings a wealth of experience having worked with a diverse range clients and industry sectors ranging from startups right through to global leaders for over 18 years.


[1] Interaction Design Foundation – Empathic Design: Is Empathy the UX Holy Grail?
[2] – Using storytelling to strengthen your brand
[3] Fabrikbrands – The art of brand storytelling: What’s your corporate story? Rebekah Carter