Real sprints #5. ING’s Brand Sprint

Fransje Melief is a UX/Service Designer within ING and participated in a design sprint as a member of the ING branding team Netherlands. Here, she talks about how it feels to be “working within the pressure cooker” of a design sprint and how the team achieved a great outcome.

The ING branding team was looking for a way to inspire ING employees with the ING Brand, so they would feel empowered to give a differentiating ING experience to the customer. Fransje:

“a common challenge for our (or any) branding department is that opportunities to get a design or product to a higher level are often missed, due to either time pressure or because people don’t know what the branding department does. Initially, we considered solving this problem by building an app to help onboarding (new) members on ING’s branding. We went through many options. In the end, we weren’t sure what kind of solution would work, or whether the app would be of any use at all. It seemed like the ‘problem’ was multi-faceted and fussy.
Our team formulated an ambitious long-term goal: ‘every time a project starts, the brand is the starting point.’ We defined the stakeholders and key players who had to do with this long-term goal and organized the sprint team. The first few days, we dived deep into the questions and challenges and focused on our long-term goal. This resulted in a low fidelity prototype of a physical, ‘Brand Experience Room’ on day 4 of the sprint. All our brand expressions can be experienced in this room: sound, music, the tone of voice, photography, visual identity, our illustration style, making the brand much more visible and tangible.
I think what made it work is that we had prepared this scenario in which people were taken through an experience from beginning to end. From ‘receiving an invite email’ to ‘walking through the physical room’. Our team became ‘actors’ in this room: “Ok, welcome to Brand Experience Room, here you can see…” The prototype wasn’t fancy or whatsoever, but it worked wonders. We received very valuable feedback and learned a lot from the ‘internal customers’ on day 5.
A big learning for the team was that the work wasn’t finished after the Design Sprint. During the Sprint we defined questions, expertise topics, and new projects. Fortunately, we had them all collected on our maps. We hired an external agency to take the concept to the next level, got more feedback and we are now looking into creating a new prototype of the brand experience room.
I am amazed by the results you can achieve with a team, within one week only. The time pressure really helps; you would never get the same results with meetings spread over time. Although intense, they count as my best weeks. In the beginning, nobody has an idea of direction or outcome. You will experience uncomfortable moments when you think, “I wonder if I come up with a good idea on the spot or how are we going to make this work?” But I have experienced that the process just works, and leads to a valuable outcome, no matter what. And you usually end up loving your team members!
At ING, we use Design sprints for big challenges, especially when we deal with many opinions but no clear solution. We usually get stakeholder buy-in by pointing out that without a Design Sprint, it could take months to find alignment and get to a solution. Bringing together a knowledgeable team to create and user-test a prototype in 5 days, is much more efficient than 10 tiring meetings spread over weeks without validating one single concept A sprint gives so much insight you would not have gotten otherwise and is simply a great way to innovate.”

The ING Brandroom Design Sprint team members were as follows: Ronald van Buuren, Anouk Hagenaars, Susanne Lourens, Fransje Melief, Gaby Rupert en Vera Schuurman-Pustjens

This is an excellent story about how Design Sprints are being used beyond Digital products to focus an organization around its brand and generate a genuinely original prototype. Design Sprints are being successfully used for Brand, Vision, Service, Process Design even Moon Shoots.

Do you have any insights from challenging and rewarding Design Sprints? Please, do share it with us, I am sure everyone would love to hear about it!

If you need some tips on how to develop run Design Sprints, Problem Framing Workshop or want to try a Brand Sprint? Just drop me a line to

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