Applying Design Thinking When Creating Video Marketing

Jedidiah Gant - July 16, 2018

Design Thinking, as defined by IDEO, “encourages organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for and leads to human-centered products, services, and internal processes.” This human element is a central component in the design of buildings, branding assets, and mobile application interfaces. But, video is one artform that has not be integral into the design thinking discussion.

You’re probably wondering, “Hey! You’re not a design firm, an architecture firm, or even a full-service agency. Why would a video agency consider design thinking and not cinematic theory and production logistics within their process?” The truth is, we use both, together, to craft how we approach clients, projects, and ultimately our artform.

As the internet has become the digital playground for marketers eager to reach their audience through content, video has become a key ingredient in a brand’s marketing strategy. A thoughtful and methodical approach to video content is more effective than quickly batching out multiple videos per week. Quality over quantity.

To do this, you can create video campaigns around three design-thinking focused elements: Creative Problem Solving, Relatable Storytelling, and Solution-Oriented Distribution.

Creative Problem-Solving Guides Process

Architect and design-deity, Charles Eames once said “Recognizing the need is the primary condition of design,” solidifying the idea that diagnosing a design problem is of the utmost importance. This diagnosis is at the heart of creative problem solving and essential to creating great video campaigns.

The video creation process mirrors a design process, beginning with strategic diagnostic, followed by creative ideation, and ending with the production of chosen ideas. Each part of the process relies heavily on creative problem solving to develop the most effective solutions to this initial need. We strive to have that kid-like wonderment, which is why Odyssey of the Mind, an international creative problem-solving program, describes this as “learn­ing the process of solving new problems using creativity and knowledge.”

Charles Eames Design Process Diagram – read more on the thoughts behind the diagram

Listening is crucial when diagnosing a problem. Without open ears and minds, we aren’t able to properly diagnose the gaps and needs that will be address to solve the project’s goals. It’s this open mind that allows space for great ideas to form.

Exploring ideas with creative confidence leads to bold marketing campaigns. Iterating on initial ideas develops more creative and effective video concepts. Evolving concepts allows influence of variable aspects of the stated problem, rather than a singular solution. Problem solving is the fabric of our culture and necessary for working together with clients. Design is a human-centric process and video is not exempt from its tenets.​

Storytelling as an Emotive Design Element

An essential part of creating effective videos that meet a client’s need is crafting a story that resonates with the target audience. Through brainstorming and ideation, our creative team is able to build on the creative brief and develop a collection of ideas that can achieve a brand’s marketing goals.

Connecting with your audience through story relies on a few classic mechanisms, namely emotion and narrative. Concepts developed in the ideation phase are kernels of ideas that, without further development, will not become resonate stories. Through narrative design, an emotional story can make a person feel connected and ultimately remember the story later.

It is important to get outside of the concept and find what moves an audience. It could be a character, a plot line, or atmosphere that resonates throughout the video. These elements are important in placing the viewer deeper into the narrative and ultimately believing and feeling the concept. For many, emotion triggers action. Emotion is powerful in this way, making viewers want to share the video with their network and ultimately expanding your message.

Hero’s Journey diagram from Ellen Lupton’s book ‘Design is Storytelling’

The Hero’s Journey (illustrated above) by Joseph Campbell provides a tried and true narrative arc format that we follow to validate our own ideas. This circular pattern has been a part of storytelling for centuries, from classic films such as The Star Wars Trilogy and Braveheart to the literature legacy created by Homer’s Odyssey. The ability to create empathy through a hero and his/her journey is an important part of engaging video. The more an audience identifies with the struggles of the hero and the journey, the more likely they are to believe in your message. Belief in your brand is a core part of achieving your marketing goals. Belief and trust are key to your brand’s success.

Visualizing a concept is essential in properly conveying the intricacies of ideas, which applies to most design fields; graphics, architecture, art. It also applies to video. Concept boards, pitch decks, animatics and storyboards all help develop a visual language to illustrate a narrative. We use each of these to communicate to clients. Visual communication can break down misconceptions and language barriers during the design process. With video this is key to a successful campaign.

Solution-Oriented Distribution Creates Measurable Progress

Design is as much about data as it is about aesthetics. Many designers form ideas from an information perspective with numbers driving their decisions. Buildings designed by architects who celebrate the engineering feats of their design create a design revolved around an analytical perspective. Numbers drive form. Or as Louis Sullivan said, “Form follows function.”

The same is the case for video. As beautiful as you want your video to be, it must get the intended results. Therefore, the consideration of analytics, trends on social media, and measurable milestones are important when developing a video campaign. That doesn’t mean analytics should drive the creative, it simply means they should inform the conversation from the beginning.

After a video is produced, a distribution strategy is important to amplify the visuals you have heavily invested in. In the age of social media analytics, success is measurable and being able to understand, read, and organize the information thrown at you from social analytics is crucial.

Design guru and professor Edward Tufte works feverishly on educating designers of all types in ways to interpret and display information. Many may see information organization as mostly a product of quantitative professions, but creative and qualitative projects like video need a similarly rigorous analysis. Much of the design process revolves around developing an idea, iterating that idea through testing, and pushing forward with the highest performing solution.

Video is no different. From testing potential campaign ideas and A/B testing video options on social platforms to creating ‘scalable social videos,’ measurable progress can be seen from video campaigns when both form and function are factored into the design of the process. Insight driven video design.

Integrating Design Thinking Generates Successful Video Campaigns

Videos haven’t always been considered to be part of the design panoply, but deep down, the process to produce video is as methodical and creative as graphic design, architecture, or automotive design. Hubspot states that “Design thinking is a methodology that drives innovation.” By definition, innovation is the process of using new ideas and methods to solve classic problems. The integration of creative problem solving from first engagement to video distribution gives you the ability to iterate, improve, and successfully measure the progress of your video campaign. Without following a few simple laws of design and process, videos are bound to fail.

We like success, though, and so should your brand.