Bubblefish Design Thinking and Doing

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We have always placed a lot of emphasis on the value of strategy in branding. 

What then is the role of design in our working - given we maintain that we’re not a design agency and yet produce a range of design deliverables? This blog aims to explain how and what we do.

Design can sometimes be seen as the doing, strategy as the thinking. If you think about it in such linear terms, then strategy logically comes before design. Does this push design lower down the ladder? Is it not as important as strategy then? Conversely, is the “doing” (design) more important than the “thinking” (strategy) because for many clients, design is the only tangible element that they can relate to easily?

Design thinking and thinking design

What a lot of people don’t realise is that design plays an active role during all the stages of our brand development process, including strategy, by way of something called design thinking. What’s more, one need not be a designer to be able to apply it - it’s simply a different way of approaching a problem. Imagine you had to unravel a knotted ball of string. Your first instinct would be to pull at the two loose ends. Oftentimes, instead of undoing, pulling actually tightens the knots and causes the string to be even more tangled. What you need to do is examine the ball closely from every direction and observe how the string weaves around.

Design thinking looks at a problem from a number of different angles to produce a superior outcome by getting to the heart of the issue.

In our business, this might mean looking at a perceived problem (“I don’t have a logo”) and through the process of asking a series of questions, and reframing the issue (“You need the vision and values of your business to be succinctly communicated to your target audience”). The use of design thinking can be the difference between a predictable response (“let’s get a logo out”) and a potentially unconventional one that is far more effective.

Different kind of Design(ers)

While we don’t call ourselves a design company, we’re still in the company of designers. In fact, Bubblefish’s own humble beginnings are deeply rooted in design. Designers make up a key part of our team. But we don’t create designs in isolation. Design thinking helps us to approach our work differently and is valued by many clients.

In our experience, the people and businesses who recognise that design and strategy are interdependent seem to better achieve their objectives and in ways they’d never considered before.

Learning to think differently

If design thinking is new to you, don’t be anxious. It’s something we’ve also learned to do better with each new project, as we’ve worked with a range of clients.

In this blog, we have tried to demonstrate that design requires a lot of thinking, not just doing and thinking too requires a design based approach. Design is thus both a leader and a follower. It belongs wherever there is a need to tackle a problem and you can be sure there are lots of curious problems in the branding business that we’d love to help you address.

Note: Design thinking isn’t a new concept that we’ve come up with. If you want to know more about it, we recommend starting with something like this. It’s a powerful tool in our design kit.

By Bernadette Bucalon, Designer Problem Solver, Bubblefish

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