The Makeshop Experience: Getting Creative in a Crunch
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The Makeshop Experience: Getting Creative in a Crunch

June 15, 2017

Collin Arnold

3 key design principles to keep in mind when solving branding problems in a crunch.

Just as Apple revolutionized customer service with one-on-one in-store appointments, could a Genius Bar approach be an effective way to solving branding solve problems? I recently had a chance to find out during Makeshop, a venture described by its founders as “a glimpse into the future of work, creative services and cities” that “maximizes human connection & creative freedom.”

Here’s how it worked: five creatives in New York City were selected to participate and gathered at a workspace in Tribeca to consult individually with brands and startups on any design, strategy or branding challenges they’re facing. I received short briefs the night before the event, then consulted for six one-on-one sessions, each lasting 30–60 minutes.

Working with such tight time constraints can be a high-pressure task, but by utilizing a few key principles of design thinking, I was able to encourage the brands to think quickly and more broadly about their challenges to uncover a wide range of exciting potential solutions.

Whatever challenge you’re facing, here are 3 key principles from the design thinking process that can be utilized to add some structure to the rapid-fire ideation process and increase potential for success.

Empathy is Key

When tackling any brand challenge, the first question you should always ask is “Who are you talking to?” followed by “What are their needs?” It’s vital to shift your focus to the mindset of your audience, which can include your employees and partner agencies, and ensure that you’re putting their needs first. This will act as the lens or filter for which you view your challenge and any ideas and any solutions.

Be bold and explore a range of concepts

Ideate quickly and don’t be afraid to be ‘wrong’ or outlandish. This is often where the most interesting ideas come from. You’re not looking for the ‘right’ answer, but for a range of potential solutions to solve your challenge. Throw out the guardrails, and have fun! You’ll quickly discover when you allow yourself to play, your ideas get more innovative and more interesting. Once you’ve covered a lot of ground you’ll easily be able to identify the most breakthrough solutions.

Synthesize, test and refine

Once you’ve developed a range of solutions, it’s time to hone in on the ideas that are both the most innovative and the most feasible. Evaluate your ideas against your company’s goals and objectives to see which are worth moving forward with. There may be elements of one idea that work best in another so keep an open mind and be ready to test and refine the ideas as you go to most efficiently push your objectives forward.

The short consulting sessions at Makeshop weren’t long enough to produce tangible results, but they were enough to spark ideas and directions that led to innovative solutions. It served as a great reminder of the value that taking even 30 minutes to ideate and allow yourself to play, experiment and think in a non-linear fashion can bring to any project. I have applied design thinking principles to the work I’ve done with brands such as Pfizer and Society6, and it has proven to be a successful way of solving branding problems time and time again. Without the focus on the “right” answer, you can certainly dream up many potential answers, and utilizing design thinking is the key to help fuel that process.

Want to learn more about the power of design thinking? Download our comprehensive guide to Design Research here

Collin Arnold

Brand & Design Strategist

As Brand & Design Strategist, Collin translates insights gained from research into “big idea" concepts that clearly define and visualize future potential for...

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