The YO&O team, 4 women, sitting around a table design thinking

How design thinking can be your key to brand growth

If there is one thing that we think is undervalued within most businesses, it’s the presence of design thinking. Now, just to be clear we’re not talking about overall aesthetics, we’re talking about the design thinking that enables a strategic process to happen.

Right now, we’re talking about the 6 key areas that should be mandatory within any business strategy and ideation session. Let’s have at it.

1 – Research

Seems straightforward forward right? You’d be surprised at how many people go in on an idea with their perspective on how things should be. There is a key difference between us thinking we have a great idea and others thinking it’s a great idea. If people aren’t interested, it’s not going to work. Here lies the importance of research. Getting an understanding of the market, demographics, product and service offerings, usability, etc. provides insight on whether an idea is feasible, or in most cases, marketable. This isn’t only about building business strategies, it’s also about internal systems and buy-in. In order for something to work, you need to find the problems and solve them

2 – Observation

Some of the best ideas have come from people listening to what people want and need. Observing the wider perspective gains clarity and insight into important things you may have missed. It could even be something as simple as a language change that would appeal to your target audience. You’ve heard people complain about how they may love a product… BUT. That ‘but’ is an opportunity, sometimes the best ideas and creations come from existing things that have been improved. Why invent the wheel when you can enhance it instead?

3 – Problem Solving

It’s all good to create something, but if you aren’t solving a problem, you’re setting up for failure. Every product, service, system, and process needs to become a solution to an existing problem. This follows from the research and observation points, what are people needing, how are you solving the problem, and who is it for? 

4 – Empathy

No doubt you’re hearing this word thrown around more and more these days, and for good reason. The more you understand how emotions to impact decisions, the more you will realise the importance of empathy. The key to real connection is emotion, making people feel. If you are putting that front and center in the decision-making process, you will start to make a real impact. We’re seeing this with workplace culture and empathy-led businesses. Feelings play a key part in how humans behave, the more we design and shape strategies around that, the more successful something will be.  

An important aspect of empathy can be thinking from an accessibility and inclusivity standpoint. When you understand that not everyone is created equal and you take into consideration the way you create or plan something, it can make a world of difference in the final outcome.

5 – User Experience

The user experience is crucial in whether something will be successful or not. You could create the best product or service going around, but unless the user has a really good experience, it will fall flat. There is a reason why peer-to-peer reviews are important for business owners, and brands. They are outcomes of an experience that someone has had with your product or service. A bad user experience can create a ripple effect, so it’s important to listen and observe in order to improve.

Using Apple as an example, Steve Jobs used design thinking to change the way we used technology. He saw the problems with than computers and enhanced the way we as consumers experienced them, leading him to literally take over the consumer electronics industry and become the world’s most valuable brand. He knew that he wanted to create something seamless and easy, and that is one of the key reasons Apple is where it is today.  

6 – Testing

Even if you think you’ve ticked all the boxes, it’s important that you test the market or the people that will be using and/or buying from you. They may find a key fault or offer an idea that could drastically change the outcome. It could be as simple as the language or colours being used, right through to the way someone opens or interacts with what you’re offering. All feedback is good feedback as it enables you with a choice on whether to ignore or include. 

Design thinking isn’t a skill that is required from someone who is creative, it’s simply a way of thinking that leads with empathy. Finding all of the possibilities, solving the problems, reading the room, and providing something that is needed and wanted. In fact, sometimes it’s you providing something that people don’t even know they need. It’s up to you to do the big picture thinking that will enable success.

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