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Luis Infante, Creative Director
April 30, 2020



The rise of experiential design over the last decade has sent ripples across the marketing landscape. We have just begun to scratch the surface of what it is and what it can achieve. In many cases, good experiential design can be more effective than traditional media. That's because audiences nowadays don’t want to be talked at – they want to be engaged with. If traditional advertising is a megaphone, think of experiential design as an open forum. 

At its core, experiential design is a simple idea: a moment where a brand can connect with its audience in a personal and meaningful way. As design experts, we work to design that moment to be as impactful and memorable as possible. The principles we follow are fairly simple too, though sometimes hard to achieve: make it unique, make it engaging and make it shareable. As Jason White, Executive Creative Director at Leviathan, puts it: “Experiential design is the most effective way to intrigue audiences, because people flock to new experiences in unexpected places.” Big and loud doesn’t cut it anymore.  If it’s not remarkable, it’s invisible.

Fast forward to today. Brands are still trying to connect and engage with customers in unique ways, and give them experiences worth talking about. But how does experiential design come to life in a world of self isolation and social distancing?

Content vs. Experience

Lately, we’ve seen endless brands, celebrities and social media users inundate our feeds with clever and click-worthy content. While most of these are awesome, they don't always fulfill the sense of community or engagement created in physical experiences. In fact, some of the best examples of experiential design are coming from people who are trying to create connections within their neighborhoods.

Take, for example, the idea of Takeout Brigades. Groups of friends choose a locally owned restaurant to support through takeout, place their orders and then all meet in the restaurant's parking lot. This seemingly simple idea has all the makings of a great piece of experiential design. Unique, very engaging, and highly shareable. 

Brands should take note of these kinds of ideas, and help facilitate our much needed human connections. For instance, a big box retailer brand could use their empty parking lots and create drive-in movie experiences. People gathering together in the safety of their cars, brand ambassadors delivering food from food trucks, etc. This would give the brand a captive audience to engage with and entertain for hours as well as create legitimate goodwill and connection within that community.

From low tech to high tech, one platform that is ripe for brand experiences is the world of Virtual Reality. Millions of people around the world are already connected through VR headsets and using them for full-immersion experiences. From going to movie theaters together to flying star ships with their friends Star-Trek-style to attending live show recordings, they're able to use an avatar that can go anywhere and interact with anyone – all without the risk of getting infected. So far, few brands have taken the leap to this platform, but this may change in the next six months. Imagine a brand sending out a mail invitation to a VR event, where the invitation itself is a pop-out Google Cardboard headset. All consumers would need to do is insert their phone, tune in and engage in an immersive live brand experience with their friends. 

So how do brands adjust their experiential design principles to fit a post-COVID-19 world? All we really need to do is proceed with empathy and tweak the priorities to meet what people need. What we value as people is changing, and we should change, too. Where before we valued bespoke adventures, now we reminisce on common experiences we took for granted. Here is how we are adjusting our principles for good experiential design to fit a post-COVID-19 world:

  1.  Make it unique and valuable

    Think about what people are missing most and try to find ways to achieve it. Hint: it's not always going to be another funny internet video, or another livestream (these are great, but people are seeing them in spades). It is the sense of community and being with one another that we’re craving. That's why we honk and cheer every night, or why drive-by birthday celebrations and teddy bear hunts are sweeping the nation.

    Thought starter: Could a brand like Netflix or Disney partner with a VR company and create legitimate movie theater experiences? Imagine giant virtual theaters filled with people from all over the world, watching and reacting to the same movie together.
  2. Make it as interactive as possible

    It’s hard to have a personal engagement nowadays, but adding interaction makes the sense of community and belonging that much stronger. It’s why people are waiting an hour in Starbucks drive-throughs, to have that meaningful positive interaction with their baristas. Interactive Zoom classes and livestream concerts are great, but imagine an activation that makes you leave your home and drive somewhere to take part in something bigger.

    Thought starter: If sports teams will be playing in empty stadiums this summer, why not create a “tailgate” brand activation outside, where people can cheer, make noise, be on kiss-cam, play mobile phone trivia, etc. – all from inside their cars?
  3. Make it about your audience, not the brand

    Audiences today often care more about what a brand stands for than what they sell. This is more true than ever in a post-COVID-19 world. Activations that spread goodwill will rise to the top and become memorable engagements for years to come. The likes and shares will follow.

    Thought starter: Imagine a hospitality brand sending out beautiful, high quality self-care kits complete with sanitation essentials, self-care products and other takeaway goodies to surprise and delight both customers and people in need.

It’s safe to say experiential design will look very different in a post-COVID-19 world. Time will tell if people will be itching to go back to packed lines and concert crowds, or if they will think twice before hitting their local farmers market. One thing this pandemic has highlighted is that the sense of community and sharing of experiences is paramount to the well being of all of us. People will always have the need to gather and engage. The field is open for brands to respond by creating experiences that are unique, safe, authentic and meaningful.

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In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for January 2024. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+ (sometimes 100,000+). After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Kicking Off The Year Welcome to another edition of Google Trends report. We collect the top queried phrases of the day for January and we try to make sense of them all for you. Last month began with an earthquake in Japan and the public release of unsealed court records from the Jeffrey Epstein case. Movie awards seem to be back as the Golden Globes made our keyword collection along with the Oscar nomination announcements. The 2024 presidential election season started with a caucus, a primary, and a candidate dropping out. Lastly, the NFL playoffs were the big sports topic and we followed all the phrases as the league followed its path to the Super Bowl. The First Few Days On the first of the year, there was an earthquake in Japan. A few days later, what is known as the Epstein list was released to the public. Japan earthquake - 1/1/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Epstein list - 1/3/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck western Japan and was officially named the Noto Peninsula Earthquake. The aforementioned Epstein list was actually dozens of documents from a 2015 court case filed by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre against his co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been convicted of child sex trafficking. The documents did have mentions of politicians and celebrities but have not led to any further legal action. MLK Day 2024 On the 15th, we observed Martin Luther King Day and people wanted to know more on the 14th. Martin Luther King - 1/14/2024 - 500,000+ queries As we queried Google to learn more, this holiday calls us to reflect, join hands in service, and celebrate Dr. King's lasting impact on the fight for civil rights. Awards and Coachella We saw a good list of keywords related to the Entertainment industry. First up, the Golden Globe Awards: Golden Globes 2024 - 1/6/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Golden Globe winners - 1/7/2024 - 500,000+ queries Jo Koy - 1/7/2024 - 500,000+ queries After a few years of low search interest, the award show’s search interest has increased: It’s not at pre-pandemic levels yet, but it has recovered from its 2022 nadir. The music festival Coachella released its lineup for this year’s festival. Coachella 2024 lineup - 1/16/2024 - 200,000+ queries The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will be held over two weekends in April. The Academy Awards also had an announcement this month and people wanted to know who and what got nominated. Oscar nominations 2024 - 1/23/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Greta Gerwig - 1/23/2024 - 200,000+ queries From the inclusion of Greta Gerwig to our list, it was clear people were searching for who didn’t get nominated too. Lastly, the one miniseries that was on the mind of Google searchers was Griselda. Griselda - 1/24/2024 - 200,000+ queries Griselda Blanco - 1/25/2024 - 500,000+ queries The drama miniseries premiered on Netflix on the 25th which coincided with these two keyword phrase queries. Palworld The game known as “Pokémon with guns" had an early access release on the 19th. Palworld - 1/19/2024 - 200,000+ queries Although this game was announced back in 2021, the first time its name made our list was last month. Queries were probably driven by the need to understand how this game could be accessed. The Latest In Tech News Besides Apple and Google, Samsung gets attention via search when they drop a new phone. Samsung - 1/17/2024 - 200,000+ queries The Galaxy S24 launch spurred people to learn more via search. Beyond phones, how about a digital implant in your brain? Neuralink - 1/29/2024 - 100,000+ queries News broke on the 29th of a successful surgery that implanted a Neuralink device on a living person's brain. We’ll keep reviewing the search queries to see if there is more news on this topic. Presidential Race The first elections for the 2024 U.S. Presidential race kicked off in January. Here is the round up of phrases related to the subject. Iowa caucus results - 1/15/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Ron DeSantis - 1/21/2024 - 500,000+ queries New Hampshire Primary - 1/22/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries After the Iowa caucus, Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign. The first primary in the nation was held on the 23rd but the queries started to increase the day before. College Football Championship Alabama vs Michigan - 1/1/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Washington vs Texas - 1/1/2024 - 500,000+ queries Michigan vs Washington - 1/8/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries After the college football season was over, a renowned coach announced his retirement. Nick Saban retiring - 1/10/2024 - 500,000+ queries Nick Saban wasn’t the only football coach to make our list. Let’s talk through the NFL list and then get to all the coaching changes. NFL Playoffs As it happens every year, the NFL playoffs made a huge Splash in terms of Google's daily trends reports for the month of January 2024. Below is the list of the NFL-related keywords that had 500,000 queries or more: NFL playoff picture - 1/6/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Steelers - 1/6/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Packers - 1/7/2024 - 500,000+ queries Eagles - 1/8/2024 - 500,000+ queries Chiefs - 1/12/2024 - 5,000,000+ queries Chiefs vs Dolphins - 1/12/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Kansas City Chiefs - 1/12/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Packers vs Cowboys - 1/13/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries NFL playoff schedule - 1/13/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Cowboys - 1/14/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Rams vs Lions - 1/14/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Eagles - 1/15/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Bills vs Steelers - 1/15/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Jason Kelce retire - 1/16/2024 - 500,000+ queries 49ers - 1/20/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Lions - 1/20/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Ravens vs Texans - 1/20/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries Chiefs - 1/21/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Raven vs Chiefs - 1/27/2024 - 5,000,000+ queries Lions vs 49ers - 1/27/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Chiefs vs Ravens - 1/27/2024 - 1,000,000+ queries 49ers - 1/28/2024 - 2,000,000+ queries Super Bowl - 1/28/2024 - 500,000+ queries Travis Kelce - 1/28/2024 - 500,000+ queries Even though most of these phrases were about games that set up the final two teams who will play in the Super Bowl, the queries related to the championship game appear only once both Conference Championship games are completed. Keep that in mind if you are prepping a Big Game promotion or campaign. Coach Changes After the end of the regular season, they were a bunch of different NFL head coaching news. Here is the list of coaches’ names that made our January 2024 collection. Pete Carroll - 1/10/2024 - 500,000+ queries Bill Belichick - 1/11/2024 - 500,000+ queries Jerod Mayo - 1/11/2024 - 500,000+ queries Jim Harbaugh - 1/24/2024 - 500,000+ queries May all of these changes bring better performances next season. Oh Yeah, Other Sports Even though the NFL drove the most search interest, there were other sports that made our list. Real Madrid vs Barcelona - 1/13/2024 - 500,000+ queries Royal Rumble 2024 - 1/26/2024 - 500,000+ queries Doc Rivers - 1/23/2024 - 500,000+ queries The other football had one entry, professional wrestle had one of their annual tournaments, and another coach change - this time, Doc Rivers taking the Milwaukee Bucks job - were all notable queries from last month. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services.

Unveiling the Future: 5 Trends on Social Team Watchlist in 2024 Explore the 2024 forecast for social media trends spanning various platforms, industries, and digital creators, which is on our social team’s watchlist. Over the upcoming months, we anticipate the ascent of text-only platforms and the decline of prominent social media channels, opening doors for alternative platforms. As brands and consumers shift their focus from X (previously known as Twitter), platforms such as Threads, The Spill, or Bluesky are gaining momentum, attracting niche audiences. “Text-only platforms will make a comeback in the upcoming months because of platforms like Threads and X. I think users are excited to see new platforms like The Spill and Bluesky and what they can offer.” -Rashida Hull, Senior Engagement Strategist “I predict that X will shut down and Threads will step in to fill the void, introducing updates reminiscent of X and seamlessly taking over the platform.” - Destiny Velazquez, Engagement Strategist The emphasis on video content will persist in 2024 because it enhances engagement. Regardless of whether it's short-form or long-form videos, consumers remain immersed in the art of storytelling. As a result, Instagram and other platforms will maintain their focus on prioritizing video content. “Instagram is set to prioritize the appearance of Stories on the feed by implementing changes.” -Ainsley Robertson, Senior Engagement Strategist We're entering a creator economy that will offer cost-effective benefits and top-notch content. The creator economy is expected to grow even more in the upcoming year, so investing in creators who genuinely represent your brand and believe in the products is essential. “The Creator Economy isn’t going anywhere and will likely continue to grow. Utilizing content creators in social content will be table stakes and expected. Brands will be more critical than ever to be partners and not supervisors for creators, which helps build longevity. Creators and brands will prioritize long-term partnerships because of their cost-effective benefits and best-in-class content.” -Molly Miloscia, Director, Social Media The influence of dupe culture is on the rise and is expected to expand further in 2024. Nevertheless, the distinguishing factor between authentic brands and dupe companies lies in the presence of community managers. These individuals play a crucial role in fostering connections with the audience and humanizing the brand. The significance of community management and nurturing customer relationships will be essential in 2024. “Community Management and Customer Responses will now become an essential part of the content mix as brands look to take customer care out of the direct messages and into the spotlight; we’ll see more and more brands aim for virality in providing the ultimate customer service for their followers.” -Molly Miloscia, Director, Social Media Gen Z finds pleasure in viewing extended content on platforms like TikTok, Reels, and YouTube. They are particularly drawn to creators who utilize these platforms to delve into narratives such as true crime stories, overlooked history, or unconventional professions like morticians. Gen Z will push forward long-form content in niche subcultures. “I think with YouTube being such a popular platform with Gen Z, we’ll see longer-form content creators thriving in niche subcultures: law tube, true crime, beauty, etc. A couple of examples are Bailey Sarian (Murder, Mystery and Makeup), Emily Baker (Law Tube), and The Lawyer You Know (Law Tube also recently featured in Max’s documentary about Gweneth Paltrow—illustrating the voice these YouTubers have in mainstream media!” -Laura Bluett, Associate Director, Social Media Strategy

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for December 2023. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+ (sometimes 100,000+). After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Bringing a Close to 2023 All good things must come to an end and so do our Google Trends posts for the year of 2023. We collected some interesting keywords from last month from most days. There was one day in December where Google’s Daily Trends interface seemed to stop working so we’ll examine what day it was and what happened. We gathered keywords that gave us insights into what people were watching on their screens. Of course, holidays were a big subject last month. The world of Gaming had a couple of topics that drove people to search and we had a good accumulation of sports-related keywords from all 4 major sports. Let’s get to it. What Happened on December 8? Typically, we see 20 phrases reported for each day in Google’s Daily Trends. On the 8th, we only saw one. Just one. Ryan O'Neal - 12/8/2023 - 200,000+ queries Actor Ryan O’Neal passed away on the 8th and his name was the only keyword reported by Google on that day. We only collect the top 3 phrases for any day so we only had to do a third of the work for the 8th. We have seen Google’s reporting interface glitch before. It’s worth noting that we were unable to get the full understanding of queries from the day last month. Festive Holidays From Last Month They say the holidays are what make December great. Let’s see what holidays were searched for last month. Winter solstice 2023 - 12/20/2023 - 500,000+ queries New Year's Day - 12/31/2023 - 5,000,000+ queries It’s interesting that the first day of Winter was a popular search keyword. We are not sure if the day is celebrated or if people wanted to know what exact day the season would start. When it came to tracking Santa, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) had updated its tracker for 2023. NORAD Santa Tracker - 12/23/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Looking back at the last 5 years, the update did not increase the query volume more than the tracker had in 2019. The volume was still high enough to make our report for December 2023. The Season’s Must-Sees We enjoy looking through the names of the shows and movies that people search for the most. Here’s the list of what people wanted to watch in December 2023. Dancing With the Stars - 12/5/2023 - 100,000+ queries Leave the World Behind - 12/9/2023 - 500,000+ queries Reacher Season 2 - 12/14/2023 - 200,000+ queries Leonard Bernstein - 12/20/2023 - 200,000+ queries Rebel Moon - 12/21/2023 - 200,000+ queries A Christmas story - 12/24/2023 - 200,000+ queries The Color Purple - 12/25/2023 - 200,000+ queries Dancing With The Stars Season 32 held its grand finale on the 5th. The film Leave The World Behind was released on Netflix and the second season of Reacher was released on Amazon Prime Video on the 15th. The film Maestro was released on Netflix on the 20th, which led people to search for Leonard Bernstein. On the 22nd, Netflix released Rebel Moon after a limited theatrical release. A Christmas Story film marathon was shown on TNT starting on Christmas Eve and the musical version of The Color Purple was released on December 25th. A Couple of Gaming Keywords When a big game trailer drops, you know people want to see more. GTA 6 trailer - 12/4/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Game Awards 2023 - 12/7/2023 - 200,000+ queries The sixth installment of the Grand Theft Auto game franchise is coming in 2025 and a trailer for the game was released last month. Also, the Game Awards were held in December 2023 and it’s the first time we have seen the awards show name make the Daily Top 3. Looking at the last 5 years, the award show drove more search volume in 2022, but in 2023 it made our prestigious report. Are You Feeling Lucky Again? The Powerball jackpot must have been big last month because we saw queries related to the drawing towards the end of December. Powerball numbers - 12/26/2023 - 200,000+ queries Powerball numbers - 12/30/2023 - 200,000+ queries Usually we start to see these queries when the jackpot has reached $1 billion. With a jackpot only in the hundred of millions of dollars, we think people were hoping to win some big money to pay back their holiday spending. MLB Hot Stove Major League Baseball made our list as players signed with new teams. Juan Soto - 12/6/2023 - 200,000+ queries Shohei Ohtani - 12/9/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Juan Soto joined the New York Yankees and Shoheo Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Ohtani contract was the size of the Powerball jackpot. NBA Player Names The names of a few NBA players made our list. Some for good reasons and some for not so good reasons. Draymond Green - 12/12/2023 - 500,000+ queries Giannis Antetokounmpo - 12/13/2023 - 200,000+ queries Ja Morant - 12/19/2023 - 200,000+ queries Draymond Green got suspended from the NBA after an altercation last month. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a franchise-record 64 points on the 13th, and Ja Morant returned to play his first game after his suspension on the 19th. He even hit the game winning shot. Early and Late December College Football It was a tale of two halves. We saw some interest in games and rankings at the beginning of the month. Alabama vs Georgia - 12/1/2023 - 2,000,000+ queries Oregon vs Washington - 12/1/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Florida State Football - 12/2/2023 - 2,000,000+ queries CFP Rankings - 12/2/2023 - 200,000+ queries Then, at the end of month, people wanted to know about the Bowl games. Georgia football - 12/29/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Ohio State football - 12/29/2023 - 500,000+ queries Penn State football - 12/29/2023 - 200,000+ queries We should see some College Football queries at the beginning of next month as the Championship game was held on January 8th. The Most Popular League As the regular season started to wind down, the queries for the NFL picked up. Here’s the rundown of keywords related to the National Football League. 49ers - 12/3/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Packers - 12/3/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Trevor Lawrence - 12/4/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Cowboys - 12/10/2023 - 2,000,000+ queries Raiders - 12/14/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Detroit Lions - 12/16/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Bills - 12/23/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries 49ers - 12/25/2023 - 2,000,000+ queries Chiefs - 12/25/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Browns - 12/28/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries Cowboys - 12/30/2023 - 2,000,000+ queries Chiefs - 12/31/2023 - 1,000,000+ queries As the month came to an end, the playoff picture was set. We can’t wait to see how the queries unfold in January. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services.