Transform your Ideas from Good to Great

Creative thinking and problem-solving with SCAMPER

You had a few good ideas at the start of your brainstorm session. The problem now is how to make them great.

This situation calls for SCAMPER.

The SCAMPER technique is one of the easiest and direct methods for creative thinking and problem-solving through a number of techniques or question types; (S) substitute, (C) combine, (A) adapt, (M) modify, (P) put to another use, (E) eliminate and (R) reverse. These types can be used to explore problems from seven perspectives. This holistic technique of study helps to reach the best decision which fuels innovation and creativity.
-A guide to the SCAMPER Technique for creative thinking

How does SCAMPER work?

SCAMPER lets you poke and play with an idea to improve it or come up with more creative ideas. To simplify, SCAMPER is asking 7 different types of what if’s.

S ubstitute

What if I replace this with _______?

C ombine

What if I combine this with _______?


What if I applied this on_______?


What if I modify/distort this _______?
Shape, size, colour, texture

Put to another use

What if I use this as a/an_______?


What if I remove this?


What if I reorder this? What if I reverse the order?

Here’s an illustration of how SCAMPER is applied in a consumer market sense. Let’s take a break–KitKat.

Plenary- The Kit Kat — image source

Substitute chocolate flavour with milk
Combine fruit /peanut flavour
Adapt inside an ice cream
Modify and make it bigger
Put to another use to make a drink
Eliminate and keep to a single bar
Rearrange, cut to pieces for bite-size delights.

SCAMPER technique is not limited to developing or improving a product. You can use it freely on any branch of design, be it graphic or digital.

Now that you know how it works, here’s the fun part. Let me demonstrate how to apply SCAMPER in crafting some ads using some of Singapore’s iconic symbols.

Durex — A protected place

Use substitution to replace the civilian with cells.

Durex ad — image source

Singapore Police — Unite 2017

Use combine to add the iconic “stop theft is a crime” standee with DC heroes.

Singapore Police Force — image source

Dyson — Keeping your air clean

Use eliminate to make the Singapore Flyer look like a bladeless fan.

UBER Pool — Share the ride, split the cost

Use modify to create a taller SBS Transit bus.

Armour All Carwash — We help the nation sparkle with pride

Use adapt to place the Merlion in a carwash context.

Scott — Ultra-soft Jumbo Chope

Use “Put to another use” and replaced the tissue packet with tissue rolls.

Health Promotion Board — Danger Keep Out!

Use adapt to show the danger sign in a “healthy lifestyle” context.

Health Promotion Ad — image source

With SCAMPER you can say goodbye to twiddling thumbs on your next brainstorm session.

You’re welcome.

If you enjoyed reading this how-to article, please hit 💚 to share and recommend it so others can find it!