What is Experiential Design?


Designing experiences is always a little hard to explain. After all, “experience” is a pretty broad term. The good news is most of us encounter experiential design every day. We’re going to break down the main components of experiential design, where you can find it, how it is used, and why you should think about using it for your brand.


WHAT is experiential design?

Environmental design is a combination of

  • Images

  • Words

  • Form

  • Physical space

  • Color

  • Technology


  • Create immersive environments

  • Connect people with places

  • Stimulate multiple senses

  • Work with overall UX goals

An experiential design team draws from many different disciplines, including graphic design, industrial design, 3D, and engineering.   


WHERE is it found?

Some of the most obvious examples of experiential design in use is in museum exhibits and galleries. These spaces are designed to create a specific experience for the visitor; providing information in an interactive way or evoking a particular feeling when viewing a collection of art.

A more everyday place to see experiential design is in branded environments like grocery stores, restaurants, stadiums, and universities. More recently, corporations are making an effort to brand offices and workspaces to help create a sense of belonging and shared goals for their employees.

Experiential marketing is an entire marketing strategy based on creating memorable places and events that capture the public interest, create personal connections, and encourage social media sharing.

The entertainment industry utilizes experiential design to create amazing concerts, festivals, and fan experiences. Events like The Color Run make the experience into the entertainment.  

HOW is it used?

This is the fun part! An experiential approach to design can be used to create all kinds of  memorable touchpoints for your customers.

Pop-up shops, trade shows, and other short term retail are great places to create intriguing experiences that draw people in.


A well executed floor or counter display can showcase product information, increase brand recognition, and make your product stand out among others.  

An experiential approach to packaging design means thinking about more than just graphics: materials, size, shape, and end user all influence the ultimate customer experience.

Experiential marketing campaigns have the power to create powerful word-of-mouth client bases. According to Event Track, 70% of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event.

Lastly, interior design, whether it’s a corporate office or a corner bar, is experiential.  These more permanent design choices establish a voice for the brand and a baseline for customer behavior within the space.

The experience of being in a retail location is critical to keeping and growing your customer base.  Color, graphics, and materials are all important, but an experiential approach also considers the overall mood and goals for the space; including lighting, sound, customer flow, information, and tech.

WHY should I use it?

Creating brand awareness is one of the most effective and commonly used applications of experiential design. Something as simple as a great spot to take a photo can generate organic content and draw in new customers looking create their own version of the photo.

Another thing - it’s personal. Customers are looking for personal connections to brands and positive experiences they can repeat.  One study found 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience. (Forrester, 2016.)

Perhaps the simplest way to say is it takes your brand and brings it into the real world, where customers interact with you,  engage with your brand story, and learn about the products or services you are offering. The ultimate goal is to convert the experience you’ve created into your customers’ own personal experience.

Wondering where to start? Drop us a line hello@awaekn.com