DISCOVER | DESIGN | DELIGHT
Our approach varies based on your unique needs.
However, we normally work through three common phases to help you achieve your goals, whether that’s developing a new brand, refreshing an old one, creating an Innovation Challenge, refining your social responsibility efforts or coming up with a new program to engage your customers or donors.
Here are the three phases we typically use to apply Design Thinking to any branding, marketing or strategic problem you throw our way.
Figure out the root issue (not just the symptoms) and mostly, uncover what your customers or donors care about most. Not just what they say, but what they actually feel, value and long for. This phase involves research into consumer and donor attitudes, emotions and behaviors. We specialize in applying an Appreciative Inquiry approach to our organizational research (e.g. focusing on what people love most about your organization rather than on problems). Similarly, when doing brand research, both qualitative (observational studies, in-depth interviews or focus groups) and quantitative (surveys and transactional studies), we focus on what inspires and resonates emotionally. Our quest is to discover the deep values and emotions that drive people and how to connect those with your brand, products and services.
A core tenant of Design Thinking is that design is more than how things look. It’s about problem-solving and finding breakthroughs to your thorniest challenges. Thus, this phase is about more than graphic design or aesthetics. Rather, it’s about how to define what makes you you. We say that your mission is what you do, but your brand is the distinctive way you live out that mission. To get to clarity, we start highly expansive, building on the data and analysis from the Discover phase. We then dream together. Explore the unlikely, the unusual and the under-appreciated. Imagine possibilities. Go big. Strive to make your brand identity aspirational, but never to stretch beyond what’s believable.
From there, we go small. We distill, seeking to uncover that singular defining concept that captures your big idea, the essence of who you are and what makes you unique. We shape that into a brand strategy that guides you but also inspires you. We go deep to into the complexities of your brand. And then we simplify and simplify some more so that your new brand isn’t just something people can use. It’s something they want to use. To tell your story better. And to connect with audiences in a whole new way.
You’ve done the research (Discover). You’ve figured out your plan (Design). Now it’s time to execute. There are more visual design elements here as well—corporate identity (logo, style guide, taglines, voice), website and other artifacts. Those are all part of implementing your brand through an iterative process of further designing, prototyping, testing, adjusting and constantly moving forward for a greater likelihood of long-term success. And delight. Both for your customers/donors, and for you and your team.
Especially your team. They are critical. You can’t build a great brand for external audiences without starting with internal ones. This is why throughout, we treat branding as a change management process that seeks to create long-term cultural transformation and alignment internally, in addition to nurturing happy customers and donors. Our goal is to leave everyone—you, your team, your customers, donors and beneficiaries feeling a deeply personal sense of confidence, excitement and most of all, delight.
Let's make something delightful together, shall we?