3 Design Principles That Inspire Action
How frog uses immersive storytelling to drive business value
The theory of immersive storytelling asserts that our creative enthusiasm sits at the intersection of familiarity and novelty in design. This paradoxical desire reduces the cognitive effort needed to move from recommendation to reality by laying down footprints that deepen the path toward our desired outcomes. At frog, we use this approach in our presentation technique to drive business value for our clients. Where organizations are faced with competing definitions of value and conflicting versions of success, design-led strategy provides a framework for thriving amidst the ambiguity. By guiding our clients through the creative chaos of discovery, they are able to interpret and act on the undiscovered. In this way, clients achieve a deeper emotional commitment to outcomes in a way that traditional consulting models fail to inspire.
To do this we don’t just talk about outcomes, we become them. We are tour guides showing clients around their future state through innovative presentation mediums and interactive environments. We excite and delight by using the three tenets of thoughtful design: empathy, clarity, and momentum.
Empathy promotes better decision making
As consultants, our purpose is to examine the world of our client’s customer. As designers, our job is to map that world in their language.
There are many ways in which clients can misread their customers. Sometimes it’s inside-out thinking, a cognitive bias or ingrained practices in the company culture. To address the white space, we pull them out of their habitat by turning them into the customer. Especially for those who aren’t designers or strategists by trade, this is a compelling mental shift that gives people permission to be creative for the day. Curating experiences to help clients see through this lens brings new substance and gravity to the dialogue, and more importantly, drives success at an enterprise level by building a better understanding of their customer’s needs for smarter investment decisions.
frog supported a physical manifestation of this idea while helping a client in the amusement park industry rewire their customer experience into an integrated sequence of physical and digital touchpoints. The development required a huge capital investment and getting the Board of Directors’ authorization would require a proposal that engendered excitement and belief in an innovative creation. In short: the pitch needed to feel real.
With frog’s help, our client built a grand prototype of the end-to-end user experience. Developed inside an airplane hangar, what was once a blank warehouse space became a very real set of customer experience vignettes built to scale. From consideration, to planning, to arriving and experiencing the magic of this new connected feature, the space provided a transformative life-size model that built enthusiasm, tore down skepticism, and served as a technical proof of concept. Seeing, touching and feeling the invention awakened an emotional connection in the Board. This resulted in their approval of a massive investment in a paradigm-shifting technology that now enables highly catered experiences and back-end optimizations.
Clarity enhances the visualization of future states
The myriad of strategic design challenges faced by forward-thinking organizations makes it difficult to know where to begin. One objective of frog’s environmental modeling is to alleviate the anxiety of this choice overload by presenting rich content in formats the audience can absorb and process more naturally. We think about how to leverage space in unique ways that supports real-time innovation and we consider clients as partners during joint creative input, rather than receivers of siloed creative output. Participative meetings bring our clients deeper into their customer’s mindset by turning the presentation space into a concept hub that facilitates empathy and elicits more “discovery behavior.”
When frog was approached by music technology startup TouchTunes to reimagine their digital jukebox, full-scale prototypes were costly, time-intensive and low fidelity. Computer models and 3D printing were optional alternatives but wouldn’t do the scale and proportions justice. During the design phase, frog wanted to get a feel for the product in its environment more rapidly than time would allow them to physically build the prototype, so they turned to virtual reality (VR). Used internally as a design tool, the team used the digital environment to consider subtle surface changes and the way they affected the look and feel of the product. When it came time to discuss developments with the client, frog used VR to showcase the product in its intended environment, an experience that the confines of physical reality wouldn’t have allowed. Not only did VR allow frogs to quickly adjust the scale and features of the product, the team was able to draw deeper insights from examining its surroundings. Our Interaction Designers modeled the VR capability in one fourth the time it would have taken them to build out a full-scale model, and it helped the team make realistic decisions about size and proportions of the physical product. While VR benefitted the iterative design through rapid prototyping it also served as an anchor to help our client believe in the future reality of their product.
Momentum builds a healthy sense of urgency
Once the consulting relationship ends, clients often hit a bottleneck if their team loses resources or lacks attention towards implementation. Companies must understand their implied long-term commitment. To help them recognize this imperative, we elevate their immersion into material potential futures. An exchange of analysis and recommendations framed as a customer experience builds enthusiasm and creates a sense of urgency to find buy-in upstream and across the business. This momentum to execute helps the organization capitalize on the insights and opportunities with a fresh user-centered frame of mind.
To build this future accountability into the engagement, frog worked with an enterprise team at a large financial services organization to facilitate and then hand over a series of design thinking workshops. Our client wanted to generate empathy and alignment among internal stakeholders while constructing their three-year roadmap, so frog designed the series to repurpose business objectives around the end-to-end customer journey and to guide co-creation of experience principles that resonated with each line of business. These learnings helped the client shape their roadmap around a more emotional strategy, and the workshop assets are being used across the organization for quarterly design workshops led by the client’s internal design team.
The advantage of our discipline is predicated on the natural human tendency towards immersive discovery. To build emotionally-driven outcomes and brand loyalty for our clients, we flex these same principles in our touchpoints with them. We change their mood by getting them up on their feet, we change their mind by demonstrating shared values, and we change their willingness to act by providing content-rich environments that safely explore uncharted territory.
Our rallying cry at frog has always been ‘form follows emotion.’ The incremental transformation of immersive storytelling allows us to accelerate that discovery on the path towards meaningful human experiences.
Siena is a Strategist at frog where she draws on her experience designing market expansion strategies and organizational data systems for international brands. Siena holds an MBA from Dartmouth College and a bachelor’s from Boston University in International Relations and Economics. She has lived and worked in over 10 countries.