Diagnosis: the underexposed step of collaboration.

Ewoud Faber
Sep 10, 2019 · 3 min read

A while ago we did a Discovery session at a holiday park. In recent years we have been able to renew and change a lot of holiday parks in terms of strategy, design and technology. A piece of cake, you might think. Repeat elements that have proven to be effective in the past. Optimize a few things and that’s it. The truth is that it often goes wrong there. Sure, the experience is useful, but you won’t make a difference by copying the past. That’s why we have to make a new diagnosis before we prescribe anything during every new project. Just like a doctor.

Diagnosis instead of pitching.
In the creative field, it’s considered normal that solutions are prescribed without a real diagnosis. The pitch is a common tool that ensures that solutions are offered to clients, without the much needed diagnosis. This is the exact reason why we don’t pitch. Ever. What we do instead of the pitch? We have a real conversation with you.

Often there already is a list with requirements. And usually the problem is self-diagnosed by the client. A lot of times the solution has been devised as well. What a luxury! But even if you might have the right ideas, let’s research it first and find out for sure. It often happens that self-diagnosis and those solutions are not the most optimal ones. This is mostly because self-diagnosis is almost impossible to do. Would you go to the doctor with stomach pain and tell where and in what way you want to be operated? Or even crazier, what if the doctor blindly agrees with this? Sounds insane, right? But this is still a common thing in the creative world. Unfortunately.

An advantage of working with us as “outsiders”, is that we can look at your business challenge from a different perspective. A characteristic of our creativity is the ability to view this challenge in a different way. We thereby see solutions that others usually don’t see. But for this process we need time and space to make de right diagnosis. We owe it to ourselves and you to adhere to this basic principle and never agree to work on creative solutions to a problem that we have not yet fully investigated. This is the only way we can make a real impact and guarantee meaningful outcomes.

Looking back.
Of course, we’ve had collaborations with clients that went less than expected. But let’s be honest, who hasn’t? When looking back at those projects, the problem was more often than not a lack of understanding the real underlying problem. We relied too much on the client’s self-diagnosis or their own solutions. We did what we were told, instead of taking the lead. As a result, we acted more as a partner or order taker, instead of the expert. We had an exchangeable function.But we learned from those experiences. It’s all very clear to us now. We always diagnose before prescribing a solution. We’re fully committed to this. We have four clear steps for a good collaboration:

1: Make a diagnosis
2: Give advice
3: Apply the advice
4: Adapt and improve the advice

How we go through these steps is different for every project, but we never skip a step. We’ve noticed that when we deviate from our process, the problems are right around the corner. By not deviating from our process, we retain control over the outcomes of the project and we only in that we can give guarantees on a satisfying end result for all parties. A result that can really make the difference.

Maibru, a brand strategy design studio.
We create ideas, services and products that bring people and brands closer to each other.



Maibru is a brand strategy design studio located in Amsterdam. We use brand strategy, branding and design to bring brands to life and connect them with people.

Ewoud Faber

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Maibru is a brand strategy design studio located in Amsterdam. We use brand strategy, branding and design to bring brands to life and connect them with people.