14
Mar

Design, Strategy & Visual Thinking: Your How-To Guide To Thinking Differently

Image via thoughtleaderzone.com. Illustration by hikingartist.com.

Image via thoughtleaderzone.com. Illustration by hikingartist.com.

Design is not “gift wrapping,” but an integral part of any competitive business and strategic branding goal.  Those of us in the entertainment space are fortunate because we do not have to relentlessly “prove” the power of our creative departments nor do we usually have to fight for the right to be a part of the decision-making process.

However, in many industries, design talent is siloed into marketing departments. Here, far downstream from other decision makers, the visual and content creative teams only get meaningfully involved in brand work after management decides to launch or operationalize a particular initiative. This is the “design gift wrapping” approach. Thus, the power of innovative creative thinking isn’t really leveraged pointedly into business decisions, market research or strategic planning.

In this post, I want to talk generally about the competitive advantages of design; what is often referred to as design thinking. Whether you make decisions about marketing budgets in broadcast cable departments, generate content for digital campaigns, or lead initiatives about how to best spend creative resources, thinking about the strategic purpose of design benefits you, your career and the company.

One way to do this is to think of creative as a strategy role. What does this mean? We’re referring to when we look at consulting firms that help corporate clients integrate solutions into their company organization — whether it’s servicing their end clients or streamlining technology developments. It could be many things, but it’s simplest to think about their role as improving performance in targeted areas of the company.

The changing market landscape has meant many companies have been scrambling to make these changes, but without paying high consultant fees. In fact, in a recent Harvard Business Review piece, the consulting industry is going through disruptive times, forcing it to change how it helps companies make change.

Why not help your organization make change from within?

  • Do Your Research. Spend 30 minutes a day doing research about your company’s product, services and reputation. Look for social science research measuring sentiment and observing trends. Read what non-biased sources say about the space your company works in. Ask yourself what your company should be doing in 5 and 10 years.

  • Go To Emerging Markets. You may not be able to go to the outskirts of the globe and open up shop, but you and your team can take on an untested and unfamiliar initiative. You will gain experience and test your skills in ways you can’t imagine. The experience could dramatically shift your perspective about your work, projects, department and company.

  • Model. Design thinking emerges when doing things. Depending on your particular role, use your skillset, be it visual or writing, to push yourselves along. A good way to do this is to schedule short blocks of time with your team or others and begin talking about the newest trends or ideas that are already out there. Talk about what works and what doesn’t. In these conversations, you will find moments that will pique your interest, and take shape into a future project.

— Kate Canada Obregon, VP of Oishii Creative

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