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design thinking

Driving the AD pitch through consumer intelligence, guided by design thinking

The choice of entrusting one’s brand to an agency is often based on small details. Whether it is the launch of a new product or for repositioning and rebranding operations, it is important to demonstrate that you have fully grasped the brief by accompanying the final pitch with information that not only shows that you have a full understanding of the market but also of the target consumer, validated from the power of big data. A new way of approaching the creative-strategic process that precedes a competition, inserting consumer intelligence within design thinking.  
  The situation is: you are a fantastic communication agency, you bet everything on digital and your strong point is branding and storytelling. One day like any other, you get a brief from a client in your current portfolio or (better yet) a brand new prospect. The account and the strategists begin to heat up the engines, the creatives, the art directors and the copywriters begin to jot down ideas, to paste post-its on blackboards. It is a routine life situation that anyone who works in an agency or in a media agency knows well. What are the challenges facing a communications agency to obtain new contracts and expand the volume of its customer portfolio? In KPI6 we are perfectly aware of what it means to participate in a tender, present a pitch to a prospect and up-sell on current customers. All this being supported by great teamwork, made up of briefs, challenges, workarounds, brainstorming, meetings, many meetings, personal crises, artistic periods, anxieties, deadlines, and deliveries. The many ways to approach a tender brief can be very different, especially depending on the figures present in the agency, but certainly the most challenging and interactive being Design Thinking. Design Thinking is increasingly taking hold among business processes and beyond (just think of the university world) and is based on some principles that can be applied to all processes: empathy, understanding what the user wants and trying to please them. The strategy: understanding what is important for the business and the feasibility of making a specific choice, the ability to prototype around these two levels of relevance. Design Thinking is a practice that can be focused on any type of competition and communication brief, but we must also remember the importance behind certain objectives. Discovering the needs of the brand, specifically when you want to launch new products and redefine the positioning of a brand, is based on research and consequently on data analysis. What is the most precious data, between big data and small data in a Design Thinking project and which ones offer the most support, especially in the initial brainstorming and exploration phase? While small data is linked to specific user experiences, it is easily understandable and manageable by the designer. Big data, large in size and complexity, can only be analyzed with the support of powerful tools with the aim of searching for inferences, identifying trajectories, and creating user segments. KPI6 is positioned within everything: thanks to its consumer insights and the presence of figures such as data and research analysts, it is possible to approach a tender pitch with data-driven creativity, with contents and strategies validated in advance by data and based on the study of the market through unsolicited data. How can our technology, and in general the consumer intelligence information deriving from our technologies in the workflow, intersect for the production of a final pitch within a Design Thinking process?   We experienced it for the first time together with friends (as well as our customers) of Kettydo +. KPI6 continues to be alongside very important players among digital agencies. Among them, the collaboration with Kettydo +, an “engagement designer” with whom to conduct important business objectives together, is important and fruitful. Within our collaboration, we will go beyond the projects already carried out together, with the aim of creating observatories for industry, joint reporting, and important co-marketing activities, in order to be able to create a perfect mash-up between all our skills and make them converge with an excellent result. An important step within this renewed relationship was the involvement of KPI6 within the brainstorming and strategic process that precedes the tender document processing phase.  

The Brief

The occasion was to work on the brief of an important company, a leader in the tissue paper sector, which requires a new digital strategy for its brand, defining the digital brand identity for all online channels, creating a new content strategy. In line with the objectives, finally improving the customer experience on digital channels. All with specific objectives: from improving the usability of the site to target loyalty, to the acquisition of new leads and customers. Once the brief has been analyzed and commented together, this is where the challenge starts, kicking off the workshop and it starts: everyone abandons and puts aside their seniority and their job title, we are all equal, from C level to interns. What matters is only one’s ability to work together and one’s strategic creative instinct.

Reframed challenge

“What could we do to revive the brand?” “How could we create a new content strategy starting from company values?” These and many others are the questions to be answered within the design thinking process. Once the brief has been understood and his wishes have been metabolized, the most challenging phase begins. The entire multidisciplinary team, made up of strategists, content, campaigns and data analysts, begins to create questions formulated to stimulate the creation of ideas. Slowly all the points of the brief are rattled off (also digging back into the history of the brand) in order to start defining a strategic approach, always paying attention to the “warnings” or the dangers that can derive from various factors (such as the consumer or the competitive context). It is precisely within this phase that the digital market research of KPI6 is inserted, as the web and unsolicited data can answer many questions within the brief, granting you a broader view validated by the data strength:
  • exploratory research: it is essential to know how end consumers express themselves when they talk about a product, an industry, what register do they use? How can you resonate with their words? What problems do they have most often?
  • segment consumers: profile and deepen the data segments or explore new segments that emerged from the analysis of the unsolicited conversation and from the first phase of brainstorming. Without having the first-party data, knowing even the smallest segment becomes crucial in transferring the preparation and attention to detail to the customer.
  • validate hypotheses: every new moment, during the brainstorming and planning of activities, can bring out new questions. Further exploratory research will serve to dispel doubts and validate hypotheses, bringing consistency to the storytelling which will then be subject to evaluation by the client.

Empathy Map

Once you know (or hypothesize) the target audience, you begin to empathize with it, step into their shoes and try to look at the product as you look at it from the supermarket shelves and not from behind your desk. The whole team then becomes the consumer X. The main objective is to know and understand the user being surveyed, in order to formulate an empathic portrait to investigate what he says, what he thinks, what he feels and finally what he does.

Agency feeling e Vision

Outlined some macro action topics, it is time to translate all these “feelings” into concepts. We begin to define tone of voice, content strategy, channels and formats to be used, etc. The whole team has fully understood the brief and feels the ideas as their own, has actively participated in their development and is aware of their own tasks. A real full immersion from A to Z, from company knowledge to full understanding of the target’s product. There are no analysts, managers or accounts: only professionals who pool their know-how to share knowledge to achieve common goals. Luca Lanza, Strategic Design Director at Kettydo +, says: <<“Moving from the concept of an idea to that of a solution”. This is the phrase with which I usually introduce Design Thinking to clients, colleagues and partners who are approaching, in a more or less conscious way, this multifaceted “system of thought and action”. And it is precisely in the definition of “system of thought and action”, which I prefer over the more generic one of “methodology”, that lies the semiotic key to understanding how Design Thinking can pragmatically help those who use it correctly to overcome the boundary of the only good idea, which however brilliant or memorable it may be, is often the simplest abstract projection of an individual thought. Everyone can have ideas, more or less brilliant, but in an evolved scenario like the one in which we operate this is not enough, whether we are talking about strategic, experience design or creativity: it is increasingly crucial today to help this idea get started. by a precise objective, be it business, experiential, commercial or engagement, supported by starting data, evidence, and studies that make it as “relevant” as possible. It is then essential to offer this idea the possibility of being put to the test before reaching the market, subjecting it to a series of questions and challenges capable of crumbling it from its foundations, of questioning it,  of measuring it in its potential effectiveness, in its resistance and in its longevity. And once crumbled to give it the opportunity to be reborn, revised, rethought, and perhaps sometimes rebuilt in a radical way. And only then will this idea become a “solution”, or rather an “on steroids” idea, capable of successfully facing its future on the market. This process cannot take place in an operational silo, or inside the head of a single person, or of a small team. On pain of ineffectiveness and self-referentiality of the process itself. It must take place through an extensive comparison, involving the largest possible number of engaging points of view. This is, in other words, the “system of thought and action” of Design Thinking. Being able to inject this element not only in the operational processes with our customers, but even before in the internal creative design systems of Kettydo +, was for me the biggest challenge of the last 2 years, but also the greatest satisfaction. And being able to open this system to the circle of our KPI6 partners, actively involving them in our co-design flow, is the greatest confirmation of the goodness of this challenge. From here on, the future is all to be designed. Indeed, to be co-designed!>>