As a self-confessed content junkie (with a PR background this used to be ‘news junkie’ but that’s so last century), one of the things I love about working at Brandigo is all the fascinating, inspiring and sometimes challenging articles, videos, podcasts (etc) that fly around the team all the time. In fact, one of the core values we share here is ‘student always’, constantly updating our knowledge and skills to be the best marketers we can be.


To that end, Mike, our China President has been leaving articles around the Shanghai office’s communal spaces and one from a recent edition of the Harvard Business Review really caught my eye.


It was written by Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, the global design firm that champions an approach to business management under the banner ‘design thinking’. The crux of the paradigm is that organizations can take advantage of the designer mindset to match customer needs to what is technologically possible and turn this into value and market opportunity.


What struck me as I read the HBR article was ‘well this shouldn’t be news to marketers.’ As we’ve talked about before the best brand strategy and marketing campaigns put the client/customer firmly in the hero role of their brand stories, very much the essence of design thinking.


If you look at the personality profile of a design thinker, the five core personality traits should also resonate with marketing professionals and form the foundations of any successful brand and marketing strategy:


  • Empathy – the ability to imagine the world from multiple perspectives, putting Yourself in the shoes of others.


  • Integrated thinking – not just seeing all aspects of a problem but seeing how the solution has multiple elements that work together for a common goal.


  • Optimism – speaks for itself really but from a design thinking viewpoint, it means believing that at least one potential new solution is better than any of the current ones.


  • Experimentalism – always trying new and creative ways of working.


  • Collaboration – all the best solutions come from an enthusiastic, interdisciplinary team.




Anyone who works in marketing should be going through the list above and mentally checking off each one. For any in-house marketing managers, the list provides a great set of challenges to pose to any agency you are thinking of working with.


  • Do they have the skills to understand your complex, diverse market and the customers/clients you are trying to reach?


  • Are they coming up with brand strategies and brand experiences that are multi-faceted, taking advantage of all relevant channels but still able to see the bigger picture and never losing sight of your wider business objectives?


  • Are they confident in the strategy and work they are presenting?


  • Do they regularly suggest new ideas, new tech or ways of doing things for you to consider?


  • And how well do they work with your existing partners or other teams within your business?


eConsultancy recently listed ten brands that have design thinking at their core (link), all of which have been hugely successful over the last decade or so in a wide range of industries and markets. What this says to me is that the right mindset and approach will always be successful and that design-led thinking can have a hugely positive impact on brand strategy development.


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