Design Thinking for Marketing Part 3: The Creative Process

Design Thinking for Marketing Part 3: The Creative Process

Being creative – this is the part that marketers get excited about! However, people who aren’t naturally creative may be nervous about what design thinking terms ‘ideation’.
 
So what is ideation (apart from a word that sounds like it was created to reassure people who are daunted by being creative!)?
 
Within design thinking, ideation means coming up with ideas in a brainstorming-like environment. Any idea is a good idea during this process. In fact, the more ‘out-there’ and imaginative the ideas, the better. If you want to find a new use for butter, it could definitely be used to soften squeaky shoes, power a rocket to the moon or as an alternative to hair AND cooking oil for the so-cool-I’m-retro hipsters. Don’t worry about what couldn’t, wouldn’t or hasn’t worked. Use the energy of new ideas, no matter how outrageous or implausible, to fuel more new ideas. 
 
If you’re working in a group, this can be a great process to do out loud, in teams, with a set time limit. If you’re working on your own, I find mind mapping or using different coloured pens has a stimulating effect and can help your brain think more creatively. 
 
So how does this relate to marketing?
 
With a good ideation session, I like to bring together groups or individuals that don’t usually work together. Different ways of thinking, diverse perspectives and unique experiences all add to the creative buzz. A typical session might be structured as follows: 
  1. Creative thinking icebreaker – gets everyone warmed up and the creative juices flowing
  2. Discussing the problem to be solved – is it a new product, new campaign, new messaging? Why is everyone in the room? How will we measure success? (see previous blog about ‘Framing the Problem’ if you haven’t identified this yet!)
  3. Starting the brainstorming process together – I like to do this together as a larger group and then split the results from this session down and get smaller groups to run through a 3 question process with each idea:
    What is this idea? – elaborating where necessary
    How could we make this idea work? – focusing ONLY on the positives at this stage (no matter how impractical the idea)
    What would the outcomes be of this idea working?
  4. Each group then presents back to the larger team. By this stage, it can be obvious that some ideas don’t have traction (painting your logo on the moon might be a fabulous branding idea but isn’t going to happen any time soon!). Hold a vote on which ideas everyone wants to continue with and shortlist these.
  5. In different groups, go through a different process. For each idea, answer the question, to make this idea happen:
    what would need to be in place (resources, skills, support)
    what would we need to know (research, research, research)
  6. At the end of the session, you should have a shortlist of ideas and the next steps to determine the optimal solution.  
 
Ideation or creative thinking or ol’ fashioned brainstorming – no matter what you call it, it’s a fundamental part of the marketing process. 
 
Atomic Tangerine has a track record of running successful, fulfilling and high-energy ideation sessions. Get in touch if you’d like to harness the creativity in your teams!
 
Sybil Williams
Founder and Growth Catalyst