Love, Greed & Fear: What’s at the Core of Your Product?

Design isn’t just pixels and beauty; it’s about producing emotional connections with consumers. The rise of design coincides with the mass adoption of smartphones and tablets. This isn’t a coincidence. These devices are heavily anthropomorphic. You hold them in your hands, close to your body. You touch, pinch, swipe and stroke to produced desired outcomes. They sit in your pockets, close to your groin. You worry about them getting tired (battery life). And they feel warm to the touch after long periods of use. You worry about them getting tired.

If design is about emotion maybe your product has an emotional DNA. That is to say, design can help expose or amplify the soul of your product. Sometimes to the point of taking a small squeak and turning it into a SHOUT. But one thing design can’t do is disguise or alter the core of your product. At what’s at that core? Some combination of three motivations: Love, Greed and Fear.

My thinking is that all products are born out of some combination of Love, Greed and Fear. Love is the most powerful – long lasting, ability to evolve over time, easy to root for. Greed may be important to have in a secondary seat. It allows you to see opportunity and aggressively pursue it. The drive to have everyone use your product. Fear is weakness. It’s lack of originality. Products dominated by fear will always be hollow, will always be tainted. Something will just feel off.

The products I feel closest to have Love, some have Love + Greed. I can’t think of a product born out fear that makes me happy, or has been successful over time.

Google is Love + Greed. Amazon is Love + Greed. Foursquare is Love which needs some more Greed. Instagram is Love.

Fast-followers which are Greed can survive. Fast-followers which are Fear + Greed will never resonate with consumers.

This is a philosophical and incomplete lens through which to think about products and their origins but it’s sticking with me.