The 3 secrets of brand research

The discovery phase is critical when crafting a winning brand. DesignStudio reveals how to get it right.

DesignStudio

DesignStudio are comprehensive and creative when it comes to brand research

When it comes to sourcing new clients, the team at DesignStudio rely on the rulebreaking creativity that has set them apart from other agencies. Here the creative directors guide you through the key steps involved in making a successful brand.

01. Talk face-to-face from the start

Be prepared to travel to meet your clients – even before you've won the contract. "From the very first meeting, we try not just to have conference calls, or even Skype video calls," says DesignStudio CEO Paul Stafford.
 For its work with Airbnb, Stafford flew to San Francisco to meet co-founder Joe Gebbia in person.

"A lot of agencies wouldn't have met Airbnb face-to-face at the pitch stage," says Stafford. "But I think what won the pitch for us is what we heard at the drinks afterwards about the dream Joe had for the company. Our pitch hinted at that vision."

02. Don't be the expert

"Our job in the research stage is to be a sponge: to soak up as much information as possible. That means not trying to be the experts," says DesignStudio executive creative director James Hurst. "Ask really dumb questions. It's through that honesty that people really open up."

DesignStudio Airbnb

Meeting Airbnb in person helped DesignStudio perfect their pitch

Don't confine your research to the top of the organisation, either: DesignStudio immerses itself in its clients' culture from the bottom up. For its work with on-demand delivery service Shyp, DesignStudio staff "literally [became] Shyp couriers, experiencing every stage of the operation".

03. Be creative when presenting results

Don't just think laterally when collecting data: apply the same philosophy to the way you present that data to the client. "I don't think we've ever played it back as a series of pie charts and quotes," says Paul Stafford. "We always try to communicate the insight in the most interesting way possible. With Airbnb, we made a really beautiful book that took in all of the key insights and played them back to Airbnb visually."

Unconventional – but not as unconventional as DesignStudio's presentation to overseas money-transfer service Azimo. "We played [the research] back as a dance," laughs Stafford. "It
 was crazy, but it was perfect for them."

This article was originally published in Computer Arts magazine issue 254. Buy it here.

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