Marketing should not be an area where we hold our breaths and follow the beaten path only. The phrase thinking outside the box could seem a little too extreme and indefinite though. What if we could easily be innovative while not jumping into the unknown without a parachute? A couple of guidelines, a frame of logical steps are just enough to give us that extra support while designing amazing strategies.
Design thinking is nothing new, friends. It has been used not only by designers - as its name would indicate - but by artists, scientists, and businessmen have been implementing its steps to help develop their greatest innovations, whether it's a product or a new strategy. Now, what is it exactly?
Design thinking is a set of human-centered techniques to understand the user, challenge assumptions and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies. It can be an amazing tool in case our problem doesn't seem to have an obvious solution at first sight, or in situations when the issue itself is complicated or ill-defined and it's hard to see the whole picture.
Let's just cut to the chase: how do we do it?
There are five buzzwords you'll need: a process of 5 phases you can take to solve an issue with design thinking methods. Empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test. Let's start 'in medias res' and comprehend the practical use of design thinking through a project our Creative Digital Agency lead redefining Ballantine's image for a specific market.
Repositioning the brand - Ballantine's Stay True campaign
1. Empathise means getting to know our target audience, it helps us observe and shape or product or service in a way that it matches their needs. In the case of Ballantine's this was a crucial element, as the issue itself was that their target audience misunderstood the brand message, causing their brand image to be viewed as a cheap spirit brand, which was never their intention. We needed to change our potential consumer's perception, but to do that, we had to get to know them better, their thoughts and needs not only in regards to our brand, but our competitors as well to get a holistic picture about the root of the problem. Our Creative director and branding specialists conducted a qualitative research on both focus groups alongside with one-on-one interviews to get inside the consumers' head and empathise with them.
2. Define stands for the portrayal of your target group's needs and insights. All the input we received from the previous step goes into the defining stage. In case of Ballantine's, our team learnt that there is no premium feel they associate with the brand, and they were determined to change that in the local market. Stay True and There is no wrong way were the main messages HQ defined, so that was our starting point.
3. Ideation is the process of challenging past assumptions, implications, it's the step where you create freely during brainstorming sessions. With Ballantine's we needed a way to successfully deliver the brand's point of staying true to oneself, while speaking the target group's language in communication style and concept. We also brainstormed about what type of content creators would work great for the campaign: bold and authentic with a strong personality, artist from the music/entertainment industry or social media influencers with a frank communication style on their channels.
4. When you have a pool of ideas you can start prototyping, which means creating actual solutions by grouping and evaluating our ideas born during the ideation stage. We started working on media planning, creating concepts for campaigns including spots, posts and other visual creatives, and drafting a list of influencers who would be the best fit for our campaign based on the requirements. The winner prototype turned out to be a complex video shooting where a main campaign video was created showing what makes the participating creators true to themselves and what is their way of living life and doing things - because with Ballantine's there is no wrong way. Many photos and video footage was shot, and many of them ultimately discarded by conducting short qualitative researches again. Until we found the winning prototype.
5. The testing phase means show time! The actual solutions we choose is launched but our job is far from being done! This phase is the most relevant one in terms of gathering customer feedback, redesigning our strategy accordingly and optimizing all the details and, even returning to other phases mentioned above if necessary. For Ballantine's we track the performance of both the brand's and content creators' channels, contents and conversions to be able to adjust the campaign settings along the way for the maximum results possible.
It is important to note that though you may be able to follow these steps in this specific order, you don't necessarily have to make it a linear process. Think of it as a set of tools you can utilize for boosting innovation in your business!