Brainstorming (ideation) 101 + 201

The agencies I work with like to brain-storm. Or have ideation sessions. Some work better than others.

Here’s some insights as to why.

Brainstorming 101 takes a “free-for-all” approach to the act of exploring options. It’s a great approach if the challenge is very open ended: “We won $10,000. What should we do with the money?”

Brainstorming 201 is more akin to identifying all of the ways that something can be done. Moving a one kilo box from point A to B for example. Then comparing and ranking the options against your objectives + conditions.

Regardless of which approach you use, here are a few tips that will help you achieve better session outcomes.

  • Don't start "storming" until all participants understand what your objectives, conditions and performance metrics are.
  • Is the agency process, strategy and logic sound?
  • Don't be a yes-(wo)man - even if you're the most Jr. person in the room. 
  • Be vigilant and employ active listening + critical thinking skills.
  • Have you had time to "think" about ________________ or are you blindly being asked to agree to something without having the time to think about the longer term implications - or the slippery slopes?
  • Are participants confusing enthusiasm for wisdom. Many agency practitioners don't know the difference and lose accounts as a result.
  • Is what we're doing + thinking really on brand?
  • Do those in meeting know the brand well enough to recognize if the brain-storm "fall-out" is on or off brand?
  • Will the recommended path(s) forward be good for the brand both short + long term?
  • Is this going to be an easy sale to the client? If not, it may well be off-brand, or you missed something (in your logic chain).
  • What's the best manner in which to present the creative ideas?
  • Which creative team member is the most appropriate creative idea ambassador relative to the client(s) that you're presenting to?
  • Are you "speaking in tongues" - or speaking plain English?
  • Are you speaking to yourselves, to the client, for the brand, to the general audience, or those who enable change for the better (relative to your brand)?



Inner sanctum


In our local dog park the city put a fence around these young trees that protects them from misuse + abuse by too many people and dogs, but lets all the good things in: light, air, rain, snow, birds and squirrels.

I took this picture in the afternoon, the day after a fresh snowfall. Every square meter of ground around the tree enclosure is trampled and tossed.

But with-in the enclosure all is calm.

I think we all need a retreat that allows the good stuff in but keeps the madness at bay on both professional + personal levels if we're to do our best. It’s why I’ve come to love working alone - from home.  



The strategic use of colour


This piece of Diablo sandpaper (made in Switzerland) is a WONDERFUL example of the strategic use of one colour to defend their brand position.

Diablo uses the colour red to distance the brand far away from all the other brown (wood) and grey (metal) sand-paper options out there (mostly from China).

The brand also uses the same red for all their cutting tools - making it easy for users to connect “the dots” and to help reinforce brand loyalty: it quickly sorts the world into two piles: a small one with the correct red Diablo parts in it, and a very large one with everything else in the world in it.

Simple + brilliant.



Robin Hood restaurants serve paying clients by day, homeless people by night


By Laura Brehaut, December 22, 2016

Four Robin Hood restaurants opened in Spain in 2016, devoted to serving dinner to the needy free of charge. By day, the four restaurants are quintessential Spanish bars, serving coffee and snacks to paying customers, but at night, homeless people can dine at tables set with tablecloths, cutlery and crockery, free of charge. Father Ángel García Rodríguez, president of non-governmental organization Messengers of Peace (which he founded 54 years ago), came up with the concept. The model addresses the fact that it’s difficult to “regain a sense of dignity and purpose” when eating in a soup kitchen. “To get served by a waiter wearing a nice uniform and to eat with proper cutlery, rather than a plastic fork, is what gives you back some dignity”. “The inspiration came from Pope Francis, who’s spoken again and again about the importance of giving people dignity, whether it’s through bread or through work. So we thought, why not open a restaurant with tablecloths and proper cutlery and waiters? People with nothing can come and eat here in the restaurant and get the same treatment as everyone else. It’s just common sense.”



Super Bowl commercial anticipation

America was abuzz (for weeks) with the anticipation of this year’s Super Bowl ads. On Sunday night America went wild because it was a fantastic football game with a great ½ time show, that was interspersed with some really good ads.

There’s a very important lesson here for those of you who take brand building seriously: 

people look forward to, enjoy and will refer other people to a good ad.

It’s that simple. 

Set your sights high and say no to bull-shit, politics and compromise.