Plan, Produce, PLAY Part 1: Discovery

The PLAY Creative process is the framework that lets us build ideas and bring campaigns to life. It’s efficient and effective, but that’s not even the best part.

What’s great about the PLAY process is that it can be used to craft creative solutions to just about any problem, regardless of your operations.

To kick off a six-part series outlining each step of our creative solution-seeking roadmap, we’ll begin with the Discovery. We believe you can’t solve a problem until you’ve examined it from every angle.

New Perspectives = New Ideas

You’ll be amazed what you can learn about yourself and the needs of a particular project just by sitting down and talking about the problems you’re facing. Opening the problem up to questions helps you uncover things you hadn’t previously considered. Everyone approaches problems from a different perspective, and sometimes, all it takes is looking at a problem a different way to find a creative solution.

New Ideas = New Solutions

Examining a problem from a new perspective isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, the more time you spend immersed in that problem, the harder it becomes to force yourself to reframe your viewpoint.

That’s why hearing the phrase “we never thought of it that way” is music to our ears in the discovery phase of a project. All it means is that a new perspective has been introduced to the conversation, but that’s exactly what you’re looking for. From there, fresh ideas will begin to snowball.

What a Successful Discovery Looks Like

Creative agencies like PLAY go through this exercise every day, which helps us fast-track fresh perspectives and get on a path to these creative solutions.

When TLCU Financial hosted the PLAY team for a discovery meeting about promoting the credit union’s 65th anniversary, we heard those seven magical words: “We never thought of it that way!”

We suggested framing TLCU’s age from the perspective of what life was like during their founding year (1953) rather than focusing on simply being 65 years old. The teller cards (pictured above) highlighted a few culturally historic moments that happened in 1953, which helped us paint a picture of life in TLCU’s founding year. This let us tout TLCU’s 65 years in business in a positive, nostalgic way.

The resulting campaign was a hit with TLCU’s board and members alike.

Proof of Concept

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” – Francis Bacon

The biggest mistake in trying to solve a problem is not taking the time to fully understand it first. The discovery phase of a project is about finding the right path to take before you even start brainstorming solutions.

Recently, we had the opportunity to help re-brand a national company (we’ll call them Company X) by co-opting an even larger national brand through a licensing agreement. Company X expected the inclusion of the large national brand to make their own brand look more prestigious and credible. Makes sense, right?

Not so fast.

Company X created a set of beautiful ads that showed off their great new partnership with the large national brand. We’ll call them Company Z. The team in charge of creating the ads was proud of their work and Company X’s C-suite was just as pleased. But when the ads went to focus groups, they performed poorly. Very poorly, in fact.

Why? As it turns out, Company X’s product was so similar to the product of the larger national brand that bringing the two together was confusing and off-putting. Company Z had so much brand equity that it actually overshadowed Company X altogether. By getting a fresh perspective on the project through the focus group, Company X realized that they had been walking the wrong path the entire time.

Unfortunately, Company X sunk a lot of resources into this project, which could have been avoided with a proper Discovery phase. It’s the first step in the process for this very reason. It’s crucial to ask the right questions and gain a full understanding of your problem before you try to solve it.

In the next installment of the PLAY process breakdown, we’ll cover the brainstorming phase, or how to start generating actual ideas after your Discovery is complete.