The agile approach to collateral design

“In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.” 

So said the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab in 2015. And if you want to be a faster fish, a more agile approach to design, from concept to execution could be at least part of the answer.


It may seem counter-intuitive, but we’ve seen very few creative agencies adopt a ‘design thinking’ approach to brand or marketing collateral design. The traditional waterfall process of ‘concept > design > develop’ may have seen agencies through the Mad Men era. But when clients want to rapidly deploy new products to market, especially through a broad range of intermediary and online channels, it takes a constant feedback loop of design, develop, test, iterate to get those ideas across.


That’s what Design Intelligence ­– what we call our process for creating a benefits-driven suite of sales tools – does. The agile methodology of UX teams puts customer needs first and uses new methodologies to execute and prototype rapidly. Given how quickly businesses need to launch new products in today’s markets, why not do the same with sales tool design? It does take a different mindset. Rather than taking one ‘big concept’ through 24 rounds of internal review, begin by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and thinking about each step of the process from their perspective. Focus on very simple user experiences – and then quickly test and respond to user or customer feedback.


Here’s an example. Australia’s largest life insurer, TAL, wanted help launching a new solution for its advisers – and fast. We quickly created sales and training tools that cut through the insurance landscape to visualise benefits. It brought the offer to life – and within six months of launch TAL increased adviser uptake and conversion from 10% to 50%.


For insurance, as for many other businesses that depend on broker channels, we’re seeing that the rules of the game have changed. New fintech competitors are poised to disrupt, and consumers want things made clearer and more flexible – immediately. There’s no time to wait for the big idea lightbulb.


According to McKinsey, the winners will be those who get the customer journey right, and understand simple, benefit-focused product design with a streamlined cost base. That’s the essence of design thinking, and how we interpret design intelligence.


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