Brainstorming / ˈbrānstôrmiNG
Updated: Apr 16, 2021
group discussion to produce ideas or solve problems.
Who doesn’t love coming together to pitch crazy out-there ideas, laugh, get creative, and end up with a solution everyone likes? From window displays to client projects, we brainstorm a lot. Individually we’re great – but together we’re amazing, and our brainstorming sessions showcase that perfectly.
There are many reasons brainstorming helps any project. It acts as a great creative outlet, allowing everyone to come to the table with ideas ranging from amazing to terrible. Fun fact – the bulk of our great ideas came from those terrible ones. It’s amazing what you can do when you all come together and build on a single idea. The Art of Brainstorming (for us) has no restrictions or limits. Anything, and I mean anything, goes.
We have several techniques that we use, depending on the project, but no matter what we do, we talk about it first. What are the deliverables? What exactly is the ask? How much creative freedom do we have? Are there brand standards to keep in mind? We walk through the project with as much or as little detail as we have prior to actually brainstorming, usually from the comfort of what I like to refer to as the chill corner.
This allows us to hone in on what’s important so we aren’t just randomly finding trash we can’t use. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still trash, but it’s targeted trash and that’s really what matters here. There will be no cold brainstorming at JSDesigns!
The Pinterest Approach
OK I realize it may be considered an “old” platform, but we think it’s great. We each spend half an hour or so scouring the internet for examples of what’s floating in our minds, an idea more broadly known as brain-netting. Generally we take this route when we’re looking to come together on a design style for a large publication or video. Then we all gather ‘round the conference table and look at what was found together, speaking to what we liked most when we pinned it, taking notes, and narrowing down options. I really like this method because I get to sit at the end of the table closest to the monitor, which then forces me to put up my feet in the other empty chair (you know, so I can see and stuff).
The Post-It Protocol
Sometimes it’s just an idea. No drawings, no real details – just an idea. Whether it’s a random thought, a potential headline or something we just want to nod to in the design, we write down our ideas on post it notes before gathering around the, you guessed it, conference room table. Sometimes, if we’re feeling extra special or if I forgot to go to the office supply store, it’s just ripped up scratch paper. Either way, the point is to have a single idea we can move into different sections of the conference table or white board. (Think Crawford Slip Writing meets Collaborative Brainwriting.)
With the help of some random nearby objects, we’ll separate the table into the “yes”, “no” and “maybe” sections. One by one we announce our ideas, immediately shut down all of mine (I have a special internal hashtag for this), and separate them by groups, putting the real gems in the yes pile. The yes pile then magically turns into a good 3-6 concepts. Or we talk about each of them in great detail until we have baseline sketches and specific directions assigned.
That Whacky Whiteboard
Let’s say you have a project with multiple pieces or variables, like an overarching marketing outreach initiative, or just need to do a brain dump. Enter trusty whiteboard. Not to brag, but we have a pretty big one. Here’s where we head when we need to work through a method I (and the rest of the world) like to call mind mapping, or even just make detailed lists. An example, going back to the marketing outreach scenario, you’d start with the big pieces: print marketing, advertising, online, social, etc. and branch off those getting in to more and more detail, outlining the target audience and the how. Plus you get to show off your excellent handwriting skills.
As evidenced by our many methods, there is no one way to brainstorm and we’re always changing it up to what works best for us. Sometimes we don’t even have a lot of ideas to bring to the table – but even the smallest idea can spark something when we’re around each other. The biggest takeaway is to always make it a conversation, never feel like you can’t share an idea, and keep brainstorming together!