The shift from Brand Thinking to Network Thinking

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Maggie Forbes, VP Design

Branded products clearly aim for sales. Online marketing is not enough so brands need new ways to attract consumers. Over the last decades there have been intensive efforts, both overt and covert, from brands to lure consumers in, therefore people today are skeptical and suspicious of promotion activities.

Consumers prefer to follow a brand that is not trying too hard, is not making demands but is connected to real people and real problems.

Even the more subtle forms of storytelling by brands on popular platforms, creating branded content, trying to match the message to the platform in order to go viral, is a short sighted solution. It is never a good idea to try and conceal the real reason for the content, which is the promotion of the brand to achieve sales. No matter how wonderful the story, it will never improve the quality of the product. Clothes or tea can never fulfil their brand promise because they are just clothes and tea.

Nowadays there is a trend to consume less, to be a more sustainable buyer with terms like ‘slow fashion’ or ‘conscientious purchase’. In reality, this also means less branding. But as branding is a form of communication it means it will evolve to embrace branded places like stores, store owners, putting a face to the person that made the effort to bring together the offerings for the consumer, a real person with a real story.
So brands will not try to compete through differentiation as traditionally has been the case. At the age of internet, where everything gets more and more connected, the key is connection, what brings everything together, and not what makes everything different. There is no more need for brands to try very hard to stand out. What is required is that they offer something that people really need, something really useful to them.

The result is consumers that will spend the same or more but on more quality products with a fair trade price rather than fast fashion items. For a brand, this automatically means a shift from a marketing focus to a product development focus and consequently the creation of more value, quality goods for all. The marketing hype and imagination will be replaced by the core functions of branding, the essence of the brand, how and where the product was made and what it really offers. Its design and durability, how it is really better than what already exists. The goal is neither over marketing nor over branding; the goal is fewer, better quality products and consumers will respond.


Why Design Thinking is necessary

Home / Archives for March 2018

Maggie Forbes, VP Design

Many businesses today base their problem solving activities on analytics rather than including creative activities. Very often, problem solving happens in closed business environments where ‘satisficing’ takes place, meaning feeling the need to agree with the majority. In this case, logical models prevail over creativity and ingenuity by company leaders themselves.
Even though not intended, the side effect is that ideas that could benefit customers and generate long-term value often fall apart or are neglected.

Without an understanding of customer needs, most companies cease to be competitive in the marketplace.

Now that Design Thinking has matured and been used by many Fortune 500 companies with great results it becomes obvious: By meeting customer needs through creative problem solving, technological possibilities, and consumer-based strategies, it’s possible for any company in any industry to excel.

The logic is the following:

Design Thinking is a Problem Solving Methodology:

Designers start from the bottom up to follow a mission or a goal, creating solutions based on constant learning and iteration.
To turn a design into a mature solution, designers, like artists, need time to build, test, evaluate solutions until they deliver their final results.
The results don’t come from question to analysis to answer, rather through experimenting fast with various highly efficient concepts, looking at holistic solutions.
This framework does not focus on a narrow, immediate result, instead it contributes to organic growth across the organisation and industry.

Design Thinking results in Innovation:

In businesses, lack of change over time can either work or lead to less tolerance of risk.
However, businesses always need to differentiate from each other and to do that they need to operate on different principles. The purpose of Design Thinking is to create these unique, novel ideas on which organisations can operate. To create real value and competitive advantage, these ideas need to be highly effective through trying out possibilities, and continuing to refine execution until optimized.

Design Thinking is a Leadership Skill:

A leader usually needs to be creative in his thinking, absorb information fast and be persistent to new results especially after failure.
In this age, with the new product development mindset based on research, new tactics need to be applied rather than discipline and standardisation.
In this way, board decisions are based on market insights and data rather than posturing as design thinking deconstructs business problems and builds new, in depth, creative solutions.

Interdisciplinary Design Teams:

Design Thinking is not only for designers but for every specialist who wants to design solutions to their problems. An organisation can benefit more from teams thinking through the mindset of individuals from various backgrounds and disciplines that can be trained to contribute in a free flow thinking and judgment-less environment in order to produce creative problem solving scenarios.

Encourage Design Thinking mentality:

Design is a mindset. It requires focusing on the possibilities that are generated after discovering insights from people data. Infusing that problem solving approach into teams can shift the solutions towards creativity.
Organisations today strive for innovation, therefore a company culture that embraces design thinking can create more competitive products and services in today’s fast moving business world.