Technical expertise is nothing without research and a solution-oriented design approach. A client that regards the designer just as the visual specialist may miss some of the core designissues - that are, in the end, business issues.
“Making things pretty” is the very last bit of the design work - and it is worthwhile only on a strong strategic foundation.
It also gives us a perspective that goes way beyond gut feeling or creative guessing. The cases in which the client says “I like orange, let’s use orange” become practically inexistent when applying this methodology.
I would say the BSW methodology is the foundation for the creative work results - alongside solid briefing, proper research, focused creative exploration, qualitative design implementation - and, to blend them all, good communication.
Because the workshop allows for a structured context to put on the table topics that may have not been adressed before, by the stakeholders alltogheter - and that may affect the branding. This is where its power stands. It is also a very strong reference for all the steps of the collaboration.****
* For startups, I alternatively go through a BSW-inspired format with the client, 1:1 - for this, it takes clarity to know when to simply note the client’s perspective, and when to advise on brand authenticity or target audience relevance.
** I previously interacted with the client and the brand
*** unique selling proposition
**** Afterwards, it has happened to me, several times, in the creative process, to tell to the client: “Remember that x insight in the BSW. This is the way we need to go, for the brand to be authentic to its values and/or relevant to its core audience” - and the reply of the respective client would come: “Yes, that is correct. That is the way to go.”
Research Instruments & Other Tools
Ok, so I definitely rely on the BSW. But it is just the scratch of the surface. We identify some aspects - and then, we analyse deeper what we see. Here are some of the research tools that I constatly use in my creative strategy process, and that you will often find mentioned in the case studies. This list is not at all exhaustive. (I may also use, if the case,
focus groups, A-B testing, expert interviews etc.)
an in-depth brief - questions included may depend on the brand’s life stage and the business needs -often followed by a collaborative status document.
the brand archetype - identifying the suitable archetype or the archetype mix out of the 12 existent types - each of them responds to a basic human desire.
moodboard - sets the basis for a common language of what we aim for, visually, for the upcoming brand communication - we can use pinterest, miro, whatever works.
competitors analysis - visual & textual identity, tone of voice, colors usage, audience niches.
the customer persona - or the client avatar. It is defined after answering around 20 questions.
stylescape - is a healthy shortcut for the specific look and feel of the branding/rebranding/visual work we want to achieve.
SWOT analysis - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, from a branding or product design standpoint.
rebranding analysis - is an incremental update needed, or a complete makeover? - if incremental is needed, then we have in mind a long-term strategy.
cultural appropriateness analysis - for global products, analysing when to use a common visual approach versus when to use localization.
textual identity building - (re)naming according to Watkins’ SMILE principles; slogan creation based on the factual or emotional USP identified.
color semiotics - analyzing the choice of colors considering the brand’s personality, the target audience, emotional symbolism & cultural relevance.
questionnaires - multiple choice, open answers, rating scale etc. I mostly use anonymous forms, to have unbiased responses.