Using Sound to Build Your Brand

Apr 27 2017 Published by Neil Gains under sensory branding

Audio Branding: Using sounds to build your brand is a great read for anyone interested in building stronger connections with their customers, especially if they have an ear for music. Full disclosure, the book includes a short piece by myself placing sound in the broader context of sensory branding and the different touch points that can reach your customers. Read more »

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Does the future need experts?

Apr 10 2017 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

I was lucky to attend a very interesting panel discussion last week, organised by the British Council along with the University of London and Royal Holloway College. Much of the discussion focused on the current discontent with “experts”, expressed most famously by Michael Gove during the UK referendum which led to Brexit. Much of the discussion focused on the implications for higher education. Some panellists agreed with a statement I’ve heard elsewhere that one of the biggest trends of the last 100 years is the professionalisation and specialisation of the world. Read more »

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Don’t Let Short Term Thinking Kill Creativity

Oct 30 2016 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

In their most recent report on advertising creativity and effectiveness, the IPA and author Peter Field reach the startling conclusion that both creativity and effectiveness are under threat. And who are the culprits? They believe that short-term thinking and especially a focus on driving rapid sales effects, combined with the post-global financial crisis recession, are killing the creativity of advertising. Read more »

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Principles of Design #70 – Iteration

Apr 26 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

The principle of iteration is central to design thinking. Just as evolution allows complex structures to develop over time in nature, iteration is at the core of good design, building on simple foundations to develop more complex designs. This is achieved by progressively exploring, testing and refining a design over time, often with very fast cycles of iteration. Iteration is often broken into two phases: design iteration and development iteration. Read more »

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Design Methods #36 – Cultural Probes

Mar 02 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Cultural probes are the name designers give to exercises, activities and provocations given to participants in a study to provide inspiration and understanding about their lives, thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and the cultural and social context that informs them. In market research, such activities might be associated with longitudinal studies and with pre-work (homework) and follow-up work done in connection with more formal interviews and participant discussions.  Read more »

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The Importance of Curiosity

Oct 14 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

“Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.” Vladimir Nabokov

I seem to have been reading a lot of books recently on the topic of questions (perhaps inspired by a good friend), and so I was curious to read Curious by Ian Leslie, all about the importance of curiosity in human life and its place in learning, business and innovation.  Coming off the back of reading A More Beautiful Question (read more here), Ian Leslie arguably suffers from a lack of more practical argument and application to the reality of business, but still offers up some nuggets of insight into the importance of curiosity in the success of humans. After all, curiosity is linked to the most fundamental animal behaviour (called ‘seeking by Jaak Panksepp) and the need to explore the world.

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Digest, Sleep, Create

Aug 13 2015 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

What can sleep teach us about creativity? In The Secret World of Sleep, Penelope Lewis describes what sleep enables us to do that we can’t while awake. In many ways, the book is not just about sleep, but about the science of the brain, how memory works and what sleep brings to the creative process. You can easily go to sleep by using earplugs comfortable while sleeping to not be distured at all.

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Contradict, Connect and Create: A better way to insights?

Jul 17 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

What is remarkable about insights?

In the first chapter of Seeing What Others Don’t, Gary Klein references a slide that he had often used to argue for the importance of insights and their relative neglect in business. The slide showed visually that Performance improvements = reducing errors + increasing insights. As he points out, businesses too often focus on the first at the expense of the second. They spend a lot of energy trying to eliminate errors rather than opening themselves up to potential (and often more impactful) insights that can create value.

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Why Brainy Thinking Needs More Than A Brain

Jul 03 2015 Published by Neil Gains under behavioural change

Hopefully by now most of us realise that the mind versus body problem is a quaint notion from the past, when we mistakenly believed that our minds floated in some ether disconnected from the real world. The idea of embodied cognition, that the brain is in fact only a central switching point for the central nervous system to send constant feedback on where we are and what we are doing.  We only learn and acquire knowledge through our body (via the senses), and we only experience the world, including emotions, feelings and experience, through this system. Read more »

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Design Methods #31 – Value Opportunity Analysis

Jun 16 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

VOA Chart for Blender (sourced from DesignWiki)

Value Opportunity Analysis helps researchers and designers map the impact of user’s aspirations and lifestyle to product design features. As we have written in Brand esSense and on this blog, where product execution meets the goals of customers, then they will pay a higher price and appreciate any improvement that makes the product better deliver against their goals (or ‘jobs’). Many products and services are designed to improve quality of life, and the connection to improved life quality depends on those things most valued by customers. Read more »

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