Bringing awe to awesome – transformative experiences

Oct 8 / 3 min read / Orange

TRANSFORMATION. PERSONAL CHANGE. EPIPHANY. Think about the most profound moments in your life, and they most likely have one vital element: awe. And it's active in the most powerful event experiences.


By David Hayward, Former Relationship Director, I Want Orange.

Awe is an overwhelming, powerful feeling which has growing evidence to suggest that it’s benefits are immense and life-changing. We can harness it to achieve benefits for organisations including productivity, happiness and loyalty.

How can awe create positive change?

In New Scientist magazine’s article “Awesome awe: The emotion that gives us superpowers”, writer Jo Marchant delves into the phenomenon studied by experts such as Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt.

“They described awe as the feeling we get when confronted with something vast, that transcends our frame of reference and that we struggle to understand. It’s an emotion that combines amazement with an edge of fear.”

Some of the insights in the article suggest that experiencing awe enables people to:

  • act more generously and ethically
  • experience a boost in their immune system
  • persist longer on problem-solving
  • feel happier and more productive for weeks
  • makes them feel more connected to each other and part of a group.

How can awe shift perceptions? 

Last Saturday (30 September), Dr Natalie Batalha, astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center was asked by RNZ’s Kim Hill if that “staring out at billions upon billions of stars is conducive to self effacement”. Dr Batalha’s answer seemed to illustrate awe and it’s benefits:

“It is definitely humbling, yes. It takes yourself outside of yourself and makes you realise that there is a greater purpose or more meaning…… your own internal empathy grows. Your sense of otherness diminishes. It also affects the way you view humanity. You realise how interdependent we all are.”

How can awe help your business connect to your people?

The counterintuitive aspect of awe is that experiencing it is an internal experience and yet it simultaneously makes people feel much more connected to each other and bonded to a group (this could also be your brand or organisation).

Brand experiences and people engagement are the quickest way to create deep emotional connections with customers and staff. This heightened emotional state creates the perfect conditions for people to have transformation experiences – with direct and “halo” benefits for you and your organisation.

What are the ways to enable awe?

In the most successful event experiences, activating awe in participants is a key element. But there are more than one road to awe – here are some of the ways we’ve seen it at work:

1. A Natural Beauty

McLaren Epic New Zealand Tour, Queenstown. (c) I Want Orange 2017.

Awe is almost universally activated in work centred on experiencing the raw power of Aotearoa’s incredible scenery.

In terms of our own work, it was our privilege to show spectacular New Zealand over seven days for the McLaren Epic New Zealand Tour to Thirty-two drivers (plus partners, friends and families) of $45 million worth of McLaren supercars.

McLaren Epic New Zealand Tour, Auckland. (c) I Want Orange 2017.

From the starting line on Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf, through to the vast beauty of Lake Taupo, the windy coast of Wellington, to places like Lake Tekapo and Queenstown, guests experienced moving interactions with our best scenery, food and drink – guests deepened bonds, connections and memories with each other and with McLaren.

2. Creativity + Technology 

TVNZ New Season Launch 2017. (c) I Want Orange 2017.

Although the vastness of nature can be a key driver, awe can be created by overwhelming creativity, especially amplified by technology to create an immersive, singular experience.

Last week, (27th of September) we collaborated with TVNZ to connect to their customers into our tenth TVNZ New Season Launch to create a spectacular integrated audio-visual entertainment showcase that dazzled viewers and enabled a pure, intense event experience – engaging intellectually and emotionally with the highly intelligent audience of buyers and staff. We’ve had extraordinary feedback.

Transform your people with awe 

Do your brand experience right. With the help of I want orange, you’ll be able to connect with your audience, create moments of awe and transform your customers into lifelong fans. Get in touch with us today to find out more about what we can do for your brand.


“Awesome awe: The emotion that gives us superpowers”, Jo Merchant, New Scientist Magazine issue 3136, published 29 July 2017

“RNZ Saturday Morning With Kim Hill”, Kim Hill with Dr. Natalie Batalha

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