By Tracey Hofmann

Some look at the term Design Thinking as an inspirational event. You have this lightning bolt moment that puts you on the path to branding nirvana. Or you start by brainstorming with multiple brains at work to “think outside the box.”

brainstormBut what does “outside the box” even mean and why are we thinking inside of one to begin with? These analogies are limited and leave us with additional questions. Let’s break down the box and recycle it because, while inspiration and brainstorming are important, there’s so much more to design thinking.

At the start of every campaign, we put on our best Sherlock Holmes cap to learn about your business. We absorb the information gathered. We scour over your business plan, annual reports, reviews, website, social media and relevant published information (secondary research). We gain insight into your product or service from questions we ask and surveys your employees and customers complete (primary research).

As with any good mystery, we look for the story beyond the facts and figures. Primary and secondary research findings are vital to acquire a panoramic view of your business but, to get to the heart of your story, Design Thinkers dive into the psychology that goes to the heart of your market. This is when brainstorming sessions come in. This is where we labor together to uncover the human need for your service or product, and to uncover the mystery of how your business presence makes people FEEL. Yes, it is very emotional.

BRAND plays a huge part in how your clients feel about you. What messages are you sending? Does your brand inspire confidence? Trust? Expertise? Is your product custom-made (Ka-ching, Ka-ching) or easy-on-the-wallet (a volume business)?

Do the words Quality, Fresh, Gourmet come to mind? What feeling do you want potential customers to have when they are faced with your BRAND? You unlock your potential when you tap into these human intangibles. By seeing your brand as the customer sees it, and empathizing with them, we unlock the secrets to help your business stand out from the competition.

LOGOS. Every company has one. If done well, it becomes the image that is burned into your customers’ memories. Even the colors of your logo say something about your business. How do red, white, and blue make you feel? Is your font trendy, traditional, modern? Does your logo tap into an emotional vibe?

TAGLINES are a valuable addition to your business name. A tagline allows you to say who you are in one phrase. It should position your company, simply and unforgettably. Once decided, it’s a promise that creates customer expectations you’re committed to meet. In other words, don’t say you’re the “happiest place on earth” if you can’t provide smiles all day long.

You’ve solved your branding mystery when you meet your end-users emotional needs. If two companies providing the same service with similar ratings and reviews are placed side-by-side, what makes one stand out above the other? Customers might say they “went with their gut” or they just “had a feel” for one company over the other. Maybe that “feel” is something they can’t quite place… but you’ll know it’s your BRAND.