Listen So Hard It Hurts—How to Use Design Thinking in Research

Jedidiah Gant - August 8, 2018

“Brands can’t push out content that is just created in a generic sense that doesn’t really have an end user or someone in mind. It might be amazing creatively, but at the end of the day that end product is going to be a video that’s created that’s essentially addressed ‘To Whom It May Concern.'”

Join Media Strategist Jedidiah Gant and Market Researcher Josh Carlton as they discuss how many of the core concepts of design thinking can and should be used in video marketing.

In this episode, Josh debunks the misconception that brand research is only available to large Fortune 500 companies, requiring extensive timelines and budgets. We address how brands of all sizes can better understand their target audience by using the principles of lean insights, ‘Just Enough Research,’ active listening, and The ‘Yes,And…’ Approach.

Key takeaways from the conversation:

  • Design thinking encourages organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for and leads to human-centered products, services, and internal processes.
  • At Myriad we think the human element is a central component in the design of buildings, branding assets, and mobile application interfaces. We think video as an art form is integral to the design thinking discussion.
  • Whether you’re working on creating a product or a marketing message, the reason why anyone would do market research is to change something about what they’re doing.
  • Market research feeds into the creative process by aiming to understand people, the role of a brand, the role of a company in people’s lives, and how to best reach them.
  • Listening is core to the design thinking process and is the starting point for any successful creative endeavor.
  • Empathy is extremely important to better connect with people when you’re launching a product or trying to reach your audience with your brand message.
  • Learning about how your product or service can make your users’ lives easier can be very valuable when crafting a message to reach them. Seeking this understanding at the very beginning of the process is going to increase your chances of success as you start to create and release things out into the world.
  • Brief conversations with a handful of prospects can make a big impact on the success of your product or marketing message.
  • Asking open-ended questions and being an active listener will make the outcomes of your market research much richer.
  • Using The ‘Yes, And…’ Approach is a valuable method for creating an environment of fostering empathy with the people you are interviewing.
  • Research can be inspired and influenced by a design thinking process. Lean insights is the intersection of empathy, the influence of design thinking, human-centered design, and prototyping quickly.
  • If you have a deeper understanding of the audience that you’re trying to reach, the experience you create with video will be much richer.
  • Under Armour successfully reset their women’s line by using mobile diaries to understand their female customers’ wants as female athletes.
  • Brands can use the design thinking mentality to understand the needs and desires of their target audience. Deep understanding of their end users will lead to creating a bigger impact with their brand messages.

Top quotes:

“Understanding that audience, and the client, and the people that they’re trying to reach, that is the core of market research. Without that understanding, a product launch, a message, any kind of creative idea, any video that’s put out into the world has a higher likelihood of failing.”

“Market research might have some perceptions around it of being people in lab coats, and decades ago that’s what it was. Luckily, the field has changed and evolved as times as changed. Now, you can really think about it and your listeners can think about it as simply getting out into the world, asking questions of your questions, asking questions of your prospects as part of a creative process.”

“Use the yes/and approach. If I was talking to you and I was trying to gain empathy for you and I kept cutting you off and saying, ‘Well, but, did you think about it this way?’ Or, ‘No, that’s not quite right. Did you think about this in this other way?’ That’s not really an empathy gaining interview. That’s more me trying to … I’m not sure what I’m trying to do in that environment, right? I guess I would be trying to be right. Which is not what you do when you’re searching for empathy.”

“Back in 2000, Jakob Nielsen sent … Some folks that are listening to this might remember this if they’re in the usability space. He essentially found that it takes five users to find about 90 percent plus of any usability problems…What I’m advocating for is why don’t we take that same approach and if you’re trying to reach out to a specific audience with some sort of video product that you’re creating, then why not go talk to five people?”

“The last thing, and it’s funny because this is typically the first thing that people do in today’s age, but I would advocate for this coming last is getting out into the digital world, and reading reviews, and reading what people are saying on social media, what people are saying on YouTube or Vimeo video comment sections… Lots of data, lots of snarkiness sometimes, and that’s just the way that those things are and so that’s why I would recommend using them last, as the conversations and the in person, seeing it and touching it, or being out in the world with people that are selling product or are around the product, that’s going to help you provide some context for what you’re seeing online and what you’re reading online. That’s the last thing that I would do is get out into the digital world and start looking.”

“For any video project that someone might have on their desk, I would say hit stop as soon as you can on that. Don’t let that be your first thing. I love that energy and the passion to go grab and go make things, but for just a second, if you think about the audience that you’re trying to reach and video that you’re going to create is going to be so much stronger when it goes out into the world if you have a better understanding and a deeper understanding of the audience that you’re trying to reach.”


Just Enough Research by Erika Hall

500 THz Market Research Firm

Creativity in Strategy // Account Planning Course @ UNC Chapel Hill

Misty Copeland for Under Armour – I Will What I Want

The “Yes, And…” Approach: Less Ego, More Openness, More Possibility​ ​


Recording Engineers: Hillary Scott & Melissa Douglas

Editor: Melissa Douglas

Producer: Hillary Scott



JED: To start off, I’d love to define design thinking for our audience who may not know much about this topic. IDEO who’s this design brand that has worked on graphics and branding for a lot of different brands and companies around the world, they defined design thinking as encouraging organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for and leads to human-centered products, services, and internal processes.

Another way to think about design thinking is creative strategies designers use during the process of designing. We at Myriad think that this human element is a central component in the design of buildings, branding assets, and mobile application interfaces. There’s one piece that’s been left out and video is that art form that we think is very integral in the design thinking discussion. Welcome, Josh. It’s great to have you here.

JOSH: Thank you for having me.

JED: Yeah, and so we’re talking a lot about design thinking and you are a market researcher? Is that how you describe yourself?

JOSH: Yes. Yeah, that’s how I describe myself. I have founded, about a year and a half ago, my own market research company, 500THz, and that stands for the frequency of orange colored light, for those who might be a little bit put off by that.

JED: Why did you choose orange? Why orange?

JOSH: Orange is the color of change. The reason why anyone would do market research is to change something about what they’re doing; whether that’s a product, or a message, or anything like that. Then, light is all about opportunity. Those two things come together with the name of my company. On the side, I also teach this topic at UNC Chapel Hill to the undergrads and grads and so that keeps me fresh and helps me understand really what’s going on. When people get out into the world, what are their experiences in the working world with research and strategy and what those things look like.

JED: How did you get into market research? What is a little bit more of your background?