What is the deciding factor behind a successful campaign, an eye-catching packaging, or a stunning motion picture? Guess the first answer popping up in our mind would be “creativity”. After all, an agency is all about creating, with such radical, disruptive, imaginative souls as its backbone. However, the reality is quite different from popular belief.

There are countless fabulous ideas untapped, not because their values are not recognized, but the lack of viability when it comes to execution. The one who excels in idea-generating isn’t necessarily good at execution, and the idea itself may sound appealing yet impractical. Accordingly, a worth-a-shot idea shouldn’t be an impulsive personal one, it should come with business justification and persuasiveness. Yet still the big question is: “What makes an idea convincing?”

Insight is the key

We are not trying to convince you to be more “practical”. Despite being a business, an agency at its core is less about money and more about connecting on the receiving end. Not only is it a diplomat helping brands befriend customers, but it sails customers’ demands to the treasure island they’re looking for in the vast market ocean. Therefore, creativity should be kindled by talent but inspired by the community’s needs.

In other words, the marketers, designers, copywriters— that all function as an agency, must be able to put themselves in others’ shoes. Embracing a human-centered approach is how we can convert ideas into valuable and workable solutions. A designer can craft a company’s values into visuals at their own will, but there’s much more to consider than just looking from an artistic standpoint.

In a traditional approach, the branding materials were products of an objective-lacking process—they only reached customers after being revised and finalized by the high-ups in an agency. By re-structuring this procedure, agencies now empathize on a deeper level with potential customers and even co-create with them. But how does this actually happen? Where do agencies obtain the insight? After all, they are businesses; constantly acting on feelings or always trusting imagination just means more assumption, not efficiency.

Design Thinking: Switch your mind into a human-centricity mode

design thinking map
Illustration by Nghi Huynh, xolve branding

We have found the overall process resonating with the design thinking model, which includes 5 purposefully iterative phases and aims to quickly evaluate numerous possible solutions to reach an ideal one. The model is about building a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for; generating bunches of ideas; creating plenty of prototypes; sharing what you’ve made, and eventually putting your innovative new solution out in the world.

Although not all agencies follow these steps, they share a relatively similar working pattern. Human-centered designs combined with data and analytics backup can help branding purveyors deliver on their goals.

Not only does it work well for agencies, but the design thinking process enables marketers to better work in a more inclusive manner through their perfection journey. Adopting design thinking helps creative individuals sync their workflow with that of an agency, and even intersect with the industry’s future.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the value of ideas is contextual. It doesn’t depend on us who devise them, but the audience who will experience the products in the shape of ideas coming to life. At some point we could have lost focus on what matters most, people, so human-centered approaches are here just in time to correct the trajectory. For those who are going to work or are currently working in agencies, practicing design thinking will enrich your problem-solving mindset and eventually deliver value that exceeds expectations.