Organic Vs Sugar-Spike Ideation. Which one are you?

How do you generate ideas for your brand?

You might call in your innovation agency to set up a workshop. You’ll probably spend a day blue-sky thinking. There will be whiteboards. There will be biscuits. If you’re really unlucky, there may also be icebreakers.

But by the end of the day, what have you got? Lots and lots and lots of ideas. Some with promise, many more without.

From quick-fix creativity comes lack of focus and lack of quality. We call this sugar-spike ideation. And considering how bad sugar is for the brain, we think there’s a better way to brand-innovate.

Time to go organic.

Quality, not quantity

For too many innovation agencies, the metric for a successful day generating ideas is quantity. If a client sees us generating lots of ideas, they’ll think they’re getting more bang for their buck.


Why spend time brainstorming hundreds of ideas at breakneck speed, when a handful of well-considered concepts will do the same job? Your mammoth list of ideas will eventually be whittled down by research, so skip the disappointment. Dig into your data before starting the innovation process, and focus on achieving four or five big ideas to solve your brand problem. Resight is a key skill in this respect.

Pick your players

Your accounting team aren’t known for their ideas, but spurred on by the chance to wear their home clothes to work, they’re coming to your workshop anyway.

We see this all the time. Clients and their agencies invite whoever is available to innovation meetings. Why not wait until key creative players are all ready to talk? Your brand is their priority; they should be able to make time for innovation. If the right people aren’t sat around the table, don’t waste your time. You’ll only have to innovate again (or live with the consequences of a poor set of ideas).

Expanding the creative process

Make no mistake: as stakeholders, your accounts team should play a part in the ideation process at a secondary level. Sugar-spike ideation crams all creativity into a limited timeframe. Organic ideation makes time to seek constant feedback from those inside and outside your brand.

Engaging with experts is a vital part of the process. When innovating for an alcohol brand, we’d suggest joining forces with a mixologist; when working for a retailer, a psychologist; for a line of foods, a nutritionist. You get the picture.

Balancing the books

Other innovation agencies do offer slower, more in-depth approaches to brand innovation. But they make clients pay for the added time and strategic insight this involves.

This shouldn’t be the case. Organic ideation doesn’t have to involve feet-dragging. A collaborative, organic process with iterative, agile methods offers maximum cost-effectiveness.

Quicker, better, cheaper!

So what does organic ideation look like?

For us, it’s a design-led approach. First, we generate key insights using a visual approach; we go out to market to gain customer perspective, then we build prototypes and host a pilot launch. Throughout, our aim is to identify and respond to opportunity areas.

Organic Ideation has the potential to achieve bigger and better outcomes more quickly than existing methods — utilising instinct, common sense and clear visual direction. The result is a rounded brand proposition brought rapidly to market.

So brands; let’s start taking time to reflect, reassess and engage in long-term, organic thinking for our businesses. No icebreakers necessary.

For a more involved approach to brand innovation, get in touch. And for more innovation insight, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.