NoFrames top five brainstorming techniques for effective idea generation

It’s four thirty. The office hums with impatience. The post-lunchtime urge to nap is both present and treacherous, and several bedraggled creative types sit slumped around a large blank page.  

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever had to brainstorm for a living, you’ll know that the elusive universal brainstorming technique (you know, the one that keeps your clients happy, gets you in under budget, and destroys your enemies)—doesn’t exist.

Take it from us, we’ve looked! And although we didn’t find it, we did manage to find the next best thing: our top five brainstorming techniques for effective idea generation. 

SIX HATS

You now have six imaginary hats. Each hat is a different colour and requires you to ask different questions about the problem at hand. Go through each hat in turn and approach your problem from a different perspective—take notes! 

White: Discuss your problem with an emphasis on facts and figures. What are the numbers telling you? 

– Hazelnut sales are down 20% from last year. 

Red: Rely on your intuition, focus on the feelings and emotions that arise when discussing the problem. 

– I’m to blame for the drop in numbers, I suck at targeting!  

– No, It’s just that less people are cooking at home, they’re ordering delivery. 

– This is a new reality dictated by the pandemic…

Yellow: What are your positive expectations for the project? What is it that holds positive significance in your idea? 

– Let’s come up with healthy nut based recipes and start promoting them on TikTok. Let’s print a cookbook and post it out with our hazelnuts. Our target market will be those interested in a healthy lifestyle—everything will be healthy, fabulous and green! 

Black: This requires critical thinking. You need to Identify all the risks and possible pitfalls in the implementation of your project.

– How is this going to work? Is there anything healthy about sugar, dough and deserts? With what money are we going to print these books? We’re almost bankrupt! 

Green: This hat is about creativity and imagination. Sit down and dedicate time to search for unexpected, creative and provocative solutions to  your problem. 

– A recipe from the 11th century is nuts with avocado and turkey on corn flour. We’ll find creative recipes to print on pfd, and then we include a QR code that links to instructional videos and extra content! 

Blue: The development of specific stages for the implementation of this goal. This is when we start to plan. What sort of timescale are you looking at? What’s the budget?

– We need to redesign, rename, search for influencers and begin seeding in social networks—let’s go!

 

What’s next? Depending on the task, you can try on hats in a convenient sequence. The technique can also be used with large teams. For example; divide the participants into six teams, record their ideas, then change the “hats” for the teams until all participants have expressed their opinion in each category.

LOTUS FLOWER

This technique helps you generate a solution for the main problem, by solving the auxiliary problems around it. Start with a main topic and expand upon it until you get to several different subtopics. You will need a 9 by 9 cell table – you can print or draw it. 

 

1. In the central cell, write the goal you want to achieve. For example, “Increase the number of active subscribers from one thousand to fifteen thousand”. 

2. In the eight petals around the center, enter the tools that would help achieve this goal. The following are suitable; UGC, influencer advertising, contests, targeting, content plan redesign, entry to other sites, collaborations, competitor analysis. 

3. Take each of these elements separately and come up with eight solutions to these issues.

To rework the content plan, you can try the following solutions: 

  • Re-analysis of target audience; 
  • TOV change; 
  • Updated rubricator; 
  • Increase in the frequency of publications; 
  • Emphasis on stories instead of posts;
  • Live broadcasts with experts that have not been held before;
  • Publications about brand partners who will share these posts on their own;
  • CTA and attempts to display a signature for a dialogue.

    As a result, you will have 64 different solutions to the problem, which can be combined and grouped in any way that seems logical to you.

    SCAMPER

    This method is more suitable for optimizing processes than for giving birth to a brand new idea. With SCAMPER, you need to answer questions from seven categories:

     

    S: Substitute—Is it possible to replace the components of the product to solve the problem? 

    C: Combine—Can it be combined with other solutions, functions or products? 

    A: Adapt—Can new elements and functions be added? 

    M: Modify—Can the product be modified? 

    P: Put to other uses—Can a product or idea be applied in another industry? 

    E: Eliminate—Can the product be simplified to reduce its disadvantages? 

    R: Reverse—Is the opposite solution, idea or product possible?

    Imagine that you were the first car-sharing service in your city, but have failed to develop your software for a long time and have become seriously behind the competition. SCAMPER will tell you in which directions you can move to fix this. 

    Spoiler alert: you can come to both a rebranding and a complete retraining—for example, a courier service.

     

     

    EULER’S CIRCLES

    Euler’s circles are relationship diagrams. They help to find the relationship between objects that appear to be poles apart. Euler’s circles are useful when you have a lot of concepts that you struggle to mentally connect. Unlike Venn diagrams, Euler’s circles show relevant relationships—as opposed to possible relationships between different sets. 

    There are six types of relationships:

    1. Equivalence. Mcdonald’s serves affordable fast food. MAC is a luxury cosmetics brand. You need to clearly associate your product with the niche it occupies. Think about what analogies you can draw and how to connect the psychology of your brand to the physical imagery your customers see. 

    2. Subordination (Coordination). Ethical hair brand Kevin.Murphy not only does not test products on animals, but also minimizes waste. For example, it produces a series of products in recycled ocean plastic. Although animal testing and ocean waste are two seperate issues, they both fall under the umbrella of sustainability. This is what sets the brand apart from other cruelty-free cosmetics. 

    3. Submission. Frame your concept in a way that is far from obvious. For example, tell us about your sunscreen, and how it should be used somewhere in the Far North. Many people still do not know that sun protection is a story not only about summer and heat. Surprise your audience, frame your product in a unique way.

    4. Intersection. What do your target audience and your product have in common? You care about the health of children, just like their parents—that is why you produce a series of stuffed toys that can be wiped with a damp cloth so that no dust particles accumulate on them. Relate your product to the humans that buy it. 

    5. Contradiction. The struggle of two conflicting opinions—all this storytelling power is at your fingertips. Think about the Twix’s ‘left & right twix’ Ad campaign. Or Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. 

    6. Opposites. These two don’t come into conflict and instead coexist peacefully together. Those with naturally straight hair want to curl it, and those with curly hair—straighten it. Your salon doesn’t care who they are—because they’ll do incredible styling for both. Use this to shed some light on your positioning strategy.

     

    You can apply Euler’s circles to: 

    • Check if the strategy is relevant to the project. 
    • Analyse competitors’ content. 
    • Develop TOV, corporate colours, branding and identity. 
    • Make sure that there are no points of friction or inconsistencies in the brief.

    HOW-NOW-WOW

    In this technique, you place ideas on an axis. It has four directions:

    Wow is the coolest option. The goal of the session is to arrive at a stage of development where the majority of your ideas are in this box.

    Edible coffee cups, chocolate bombs and sweet milk straws have all had a wow effect in coffee shops recently, and they are easy to implement. Think about what you have to offer? An innovative recipe for a cookie that doesn’t break in tea? 

    So, which of these techniques are the most suited to you and your team? Remember, there’s no universal brainstorming technique as there is no universal brain—so try out some methods that are as vibrant and entertaining as the people you work with.

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