What Creative Agencies Can Learn From Adopting a Design-Led Approach

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 | 8am

In marketing, much of the work we do revolves around selling the value of products and/or services. But what if we were more involved in actually creating value too – by taking a design-led approach when tackling the creative briefs?

Alex Bogusky, founding partner of CP+B, breaks it down: traditionally, it’s an agency’s job to take an existing product and figure out how to position – or lie – about it for audiences to buy so that it answers their looming problems.

But here’s where you can bring it to the next level: by taking cultural insights and moving them to the beginning of the process. What this does is it leverages on the cultural and consumer research you’ve done, resulting in a product that actually fulfils a need, as opposed to back rationalising or retro-fitting one in.

The result: content and communications “with a sense of permanence”, making the brand and the product one and the same.

Not convinced? Let’s look at how some brands and their partnering agencies have put this theory to practice.

Twist

CP+B and the Twist sponge

Twist, who makes non-toxic, biodegradable sponges, approached CP+B to work on developing a new range of products. To differentiate Twist’s sponges from its competitors, CP+B created a brand identity more akin to gardening, fashion, health and beauty – than the usual household association.

CP+B went on to further develop a range of new sponges for Twist, of which they were given royalty rights. By leveraging on design thinking as a strategy for innovation, CP+B was able to create products with better value for their client, was given the opportunity to work closely with a smaller brand, and open up an alternative revenue stream outside of their daily work.

Fuel

R/GA and Nike FuelBand

To realise their idea of creating a device that tracks daily activities, Nike approached R/GA to create a universal measurement of activity, called Fuel, and its entire user experience.

Taking a more user-centered approach, R/GA and Nike worked hand in hand to understand the target audience and their fitness motivations. This helped to drive insights, incorporating them into the design process – which led the evolution of the product from nothing more than a colourful Velcro bracelet inspired by sweatbands, to a product that was intuitive and offered a user-centric experience.

What Nike and R/GA had to show for it: an impressive 18% increase in profits, and winning over 60 awards.

The takeaway

As professionals of the creative world,  we should always strive to create true value for our clients – as opposed to merely creating a layer for the sole purpose of selling something. Incorporating a design-led approach ensures strong utility of the products, and a compelling campaign narrative that truly resonates with the audience.

And, as an agency lead, this could also mean placing emphasis on your design department. Why? Because they aren’t just the “make it pretty people’ at the end of a project. Their design eye combined with their approach to research will inspire your brainstorm sessions and, hopefully, take your campaign to a path that might not have been initially explored, but reap more value than the original intention of the brief itself.

How it relates to B2B

Be it B2C or B2B, the game is no different.

B2B Buyers

With most B2B buyers now completing most of their purchasing journey before even getting in touch with a vendor, it’s more important than ever that we really get to know who our end customers are. This means working closely with the Product and Sales teams of our clients to get better clarity and conducting more field research to really zone in on the customer’s pain points, and truly understand the underlying truth as to their reasons to, and for, purchase.

By doing so, we’d then be able to create campaigns that turn the heads that actually count.

Interested in chatting further? Drop me a note!

Posted by Nicole Tan, Strategic Planner, MOI Singapore

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