Do you know where the term “brainstorm” came from? Most people wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the approach was pioneered on Madison Avenue in the late 1930s by one of the original mad men, Alex Osborn, the O in BBDO. In 1942 Osborn wrote and published his first book on creative thinking, How To Think Up, and in that book he first used the term brainstorming to identify a process of bringing people together to generate ideas.
Our clients are some of the largest global consumer products and services providers in the world, collectively spending billions of dollars (and euros, renminbi, yen) to actively monitor consumers’ behaviors, attitudes and relationships with their products, competitors’ products, and aspects of their lives that might yield valuable insights.
Uncovering insights that have potential as product improvements or as new products is just the first step; the next is articulating those insights back to consumers in a way that connects them to the concept in meaningful and relevant ways.
The paradox: Teams are charged with innovation, but rely on established processes and research partners to help them in their mission.
These teams know what they’ll get, because they’ve worked together time and again. And, since they’re charting unknown territory, to them it makes sense to have familiar partners to work with. And that’s the rub – it can be very difficult to find breakthroughs when you go about things the same way as always.
So what? That’s the first question I ask when potential clients come to us with a new product or service idea. Typically, I’ll ask it more delicately, but my point is, can you clearly articulate what’s in it for the customer? Very often, entrepreneurs or inventors talk about the technology behind an idea, or all the attributes and features it has. The challenge is reframing that—think about it from the end user’s point of view, and go beyond saying what your product or device does, but what it does for me. What are the unique benefits your idea can offer potential users, and is that something you can uniquely own?