[Podcast] How To Get Ideas with Creative Bravery with Lisa Hastings

[Podcast] How To Get Ideas with Creative Bravery with Lisa Hastings

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Lisa Hasting is an independent Creative Director, a brand strategist and an unorthodox solver of problems. She’s experienced working all over the world including the far east. In this episode, we dig into coming up with ideas and being brave.

Lisa shares her techniques and ideas in this space and shows how asking the right questions and digging into problems in a deeper way can lead to the solutions that add real value. Along the way she gives live examples from some of her work and inspires us with fresh ways of thinking. If you want ideas this is the episode for you.

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Transcript (Auto Generated)

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Hello, everybody, and welcome to JUST Branding. Today, we are going to be exploring the very exciting subject of Creative Bravery with Lisa Hastings. Lisa is actually in Sydney, where Jacob is, so I’m kind of a little bit outnumbered, but she also heralds from the UK.

So it will be interesting to see who gets the most insults as we go through our podcast today. Who is Lisa Hastings? She’s an independent creative director, a brand strategist, a designer, an innovator and an unorthodox solver of problems She has a background in agency.

She’s lived all over the world and we are really excited to have her here. She’s also, I came across Lisa when I did some work with her good friend Mark, who runs the Shelf Impacters Podcast, which Lisa is heavily involved in. And so if you’ve not checked out Shelf Impacters, definitely check that out.

But Lisa, it’s awesome to have you on the show. Super excited to get you in, welcome.

Thanks heaps for having me on guys. And so many titles, thanks for all of those titles. That’s another podcast for another day, isn’t it?

Like, what is your title?

What do you do?

Yeah, like even I’m not sure sometimes.

I have exactly the same problem.

It’s the best space to be in, right? Cause you can just flip between the two in different hats, but no, like I’ve, I’m a creative director. I’m based here in Sydney, like you guys said, but I’ve worked, I’m originally from the UK.

I’ve done my 10 years, my stint in London. You’ve worked in China. And I’ve worked with clients in Europe and America and all sorts of spaces as well.

But now I’m happily here in Sydney. And, but originally from your hood, Matt.

Yes, my neck of the woods.

And we might talk archetypes later, but I’m imagining you’re probably the outlaw as well in a little bit of a portion of that.

Just a tiny bit of an outlaw, yeah, deep down inside. Some people have said, funny enough, you say that, some people have said magician as well, which I kind of like, like, you know, that’s cool. Anyway, move on.

So we’re gonna be talking about Creative Bravery today. As you probably no doubt know, when we sort of open up a subject, what Jacob and I like to do is kind of start off with definitions, like, how do you see this subject? What do we mean when we talk about Creative Bravery?

And I think particularly, obviously, you’re on the JUST Branding podcast. What does it mean in the context of brands? So set the scene for us, Lisa, give us your kind of insight into what you think about these things.

So this is the bit where I go, like, a brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is, which is what everyone who comes on your podcast says, isn’t it? Because we’re all like Marty Neumeyer kids, and we think he’s amazing and brilliant. But I’m just gonna say, to me, branding is a gut feeling.

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I also studied semiotics and the communication of meanings. And to me, it’s much more the meaning behind the sign or the symbol or whatever communication is out there, it’s the meaning behind it. So in terms of bravery, I’ve got a little bit of a written down note here.

So it’s the quality and state of showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear or difficulty. So I guess to me, like bravery is like, and I’ve recently done a podcast with this, on this kind of topic of risk with Mark actually, but more in terms of drawing up examples. So it’s not recklessness, it’s not taking opportunities, but it’s more about facing danger.

Like it’s a sensibility of courage to me. And in brand world, like there are so many examples that we can probably draw on and talk about a little bit later on. But it’s not, we’re in a stage at the moment of like bold pivots and brands that haven’t necessarily, they’ve just had to act in a different way.

And what about you guys? What do you think about in terms of the topic of bravery in our arena?

Sorry, Matt.

Like Jacob, what are your thoughts?

I was going to say facing danger and courage was when we started this podcast together. That was pretty brave. But I think you’re so right, Lisa, about at the moment, brands pivoting.

It’s really, they’ve been forced to really. So they had to be brave. They had to be courageous and they do have to pivot.

So what you said just resonates with me totally. So I’d love to actually get into the examples because there have been so many of late. So what’s one that comes to mind for you, Lisa?

I would say even things like, you guys will have seen it in the UK. So Aldi and the beer that they’ve kind of combated with BrewDog. So almost brands fighting and raising against themselves.

But I actually think some of the braver brands are things are people like Cabri who’ve still gone through with the rebrand without doing it for the sake of. And we always talk about so much clutter in our industry. For years, we’ve talked about challenger brands.

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So actually the ones for me are the ones who are consistent in it, who aren’t, like it’s built into their cosmetic makeup. Channel 4 was someone recently who did something really nice by asking people for complaints. They said, look, we want your complaints.

We want to get better. But it’s because of who you think of as Channel 4. They’re not your mainstream.

They’re not your, and Jacob, just to set the scene there in the context, they’re kind of like your Channel 10 or your Channel 9. Like they’re the mainstream channels would be the BBC channels. Maybe not BBC 2, perhaps so much on your ITV, but Channel 4 have kind of come out.

They’ve always been supporting people who are a little bit diverse. And so for them to say it, it’s okay. Whereas I think the challenge for brands coming out and being brave is, are we doing it for the sake of it?

Because we need to differentiate. We need to shout the loudest. Or is it generally built into who we are?

I mean, each of us in the capacities, and even in a creative landscape, we’re brave. I would say that we’ve got a certain amount of risk. We like to push the boundaries, but not all brands do that.

It’s not who they are. So if they come out now and do it because we’re in a pandemic, is it a good idea? I don’t know.

You’re really touching on authenticity there, which always comes up. So what makes an authentic brand to you?

Again, it’s someone who pays attention to who they are and who they’ve always been. So Apple is the one that everyone always draws on. Like it’s there to support other people.

And this is kind of when you dig a bit deeper into the brand’s archetypes and core values for me. Like that’s one of the things that, and I know we’ve all pivoted a bit more to kind of Matt, you’re a full out strategist. And I’m definitely like, whilst my background is design, I’ve always come from a strategic point is those archetypes are really good.

Core values are brilliant at bringing out who you are. I mean, authenticity is something everyone should stand for, being true to who you are. But I think authenticity to me is, it is going back to those core values.

And now’s the time when I’ve been, I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve definitely been working a lot recently with kind of smaller clients, but going back to that drawing board to go, I’ll give them 200 core values and go like what, which ones resonate with you? And then you go in and question it and say, all right, why? And because often people think there are certain, you know, I’m authentic or I’m brave, but actually are you?

And I think it’s a really good question. Because, you know, like I, you know, go on, go Matt. What’s your thoughts on it?

You were itching.

Well, yeah, I know, I know. This is obviously a subject that’s super interesting. There’s so many facets to it.

I mean, I guess, first of all, in terms of, I love that thing around authenticity and, you know, creative bravery. We’re not just kind of reckless. We’re not just flipping around just to kind of for the sake of it.

So we have to have those core principles, like you were saying, to help us in this sort of situation that we find ourselves in. And let’s be honest, a lot of, you know, a lot of businesses find themselves in a commodity-based situation globally. They have to, they’re forced to continually innovate, to remain relevant and particularly in today’s climate, you know, COVID pandemic, etc.

You know, a lot of brands are finding themselves, you know, in situations that obviously they didn’t plan for, whereby they’re asking themselves, how relevant are we right now? And if we’re not that relevant, like, how do we get more relevant? And I think this is why it’s bigger than just a communications question.

And I know you’re keen on this as well, Lisa. This isn’t just the veneer. This is why we have to get back to strategy, because we have to kind of, as a leadership team, look at ourselves and say, well, why did we, why do we even exist in the first place?

If the thing that we’ve been producing is not relevant, what are we doing? So we have to get back to the basics, figure out who we are, why we exist, who we exist to serve, and then rethink the thing that we produce to help them. And that’s kind of, that’s big.

That’s huge. That’s why we need people like you, Lisa, who are unorthodox in solving these problems.

I think it’s just all about asking the right questions, isn’t it? And I suppose, especially when you build as a designer, you’re taught to take orders. This is what we need.

This is what you need to do. And if naturally you’re a strategic designer, you go, but why? It was what, I mean, China was a completely different mindset to me going in there because you don’t ask why.

Even the account directors don’t ask why.

Can I ask you why?

You mean why it was like that? Why did you go to China?

Well, let’s ask that.

I guess that’s kind of like, again, one of my core…

Let’s do the China story.

Yeah, I’m so curious about China.

One of my core values is bravery and risk, but I’ve never seen it as people. I mean, I go back to Nottingham now and people go, wow, like you’re the kid who left and you’ve traveled the world and look what you’ve done. And you go, like, I just knew I didn’t want to be where I was.

And it’s not a Nottingham thing, because I studied in Stoke and then I went to London. So, you know, kind of I’d been a bit all over the place, but I just knew I was ready for something fresh. And so for me, bravery was just something in that, like, I don’t want to be where I am.

So if an opportunity comes up and you keep your eyes out for it, because we’re always looking for new challenges and opportunities, and someone kind of dangles you the right carrot at the right time and you go, sure, why not? So China came up for me, like, I’d been in Sydney like five or six years, and, like, Jacob, maybe you get this. Like, after a while, you kind of go like this, kind of feel like there’s more beyond Sydney.

And it’s changed now. Now the world has opened up. And just recently, people are so much more open to working with remote strategists, like, doing Zoom workshops.

Like, actually, only in the past four weeks have I done my first Zoom workshop. I’m a bit like you might like, I like to go in in person where possible. Like, I don’t really, I don’t love doing Zoom, but like, but just doing it, the world is open to using people anywhere.

But the whole China story was just something that came that I’d reached a point where I was a bit like, oh, I feel like I need something more. I interviewed for an agency that are an Australian agency, but they had a space in China. I was like, oh, I’ve never been.

And just kind of set to myself, well, if I can sublet my apartment, sure, why not? And within 24 hours, I was booking flights. So I’m a bit like, I’m a bit of a, I’m an all or nothing person.

So like, and that’s, it wasn’t, it didn’t feel like a risk. It just felt like something that to me, it would have been a bigger risk to not take it.

What was this, what was the scariest part about China or moving to China and working in China?

It was culturally so different than I ever could have anticipated. So I’d been to Hong Kong, I’d been to Singapore, and I’d been to Malaysia, not to live. And I’d been designing for China from Australia, but until I arrived, it’s the only time I’ve ever wanted to sit on an airport floor and cry my eyes out.

Because it was just no one spoke English. And it was just someone had picked me up from Sydney and literally put me in Shanghai. And everyone’s like, it’s really Western.

And you go like, no, it’s not. It’s really different. But ultimately, and it made me really sick as well.

I love how as English people, we travel around the world and we kind of like, we’re really upset when people don’t speak our language.

It’s really bad, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s really ignorant.

Now we know what they feel like when they travel to the UK.

Actually, just the airport.

So I’ve put you down then, Lisa. We’re finding a little bit out about you. You know, we talk to archetypes.

So people that listen to this podcast know that we talk about this a bit. And so you said you were the outlaw or the rebel a little bit before. So I’ve got you down as the rebel explorer.

Like, how does that sound? Does that sort of fit?

Do you know what? Like I did my brand personality quiz because I’ve been doing it quite a lot recently with people where you flick them out the quiz. And actually I’m a creator with an explorer and an outlaw in there.

There you go. What do you guys have? Have you done the quiz?

What do you guys?

I definitely would not be an outlaw. I’d definitely be an explorer and creator. So I’m a bit of those two for sure.

What about you Matt?

Yeah, I’ve put you down as that. Well, some people, I don’t know. I think I’d like to think I’m the magician, right?

Because I’m about transformation, right? I don’t create as much as I used to, but somebody said I’m a bit of a jester. So I think I’m probably a magician jester, which sounds awful.

But I think having fun and entertaining and being yourself and living in the moment, I think is important in business and there’s not enough of it. So if you can bring around transformation with a bit of knowledge and a bit of structure, that’s cool. I was going to say, you know, this kind of idea of creative bravery though, you know, it’s interesting how you’ve traveled around the world.

I was going to ask, how have you found that the things that you’ve learned from the different cultures or different experiences have helped you in your work, you know, when you pick up a client now? Like, do you find it really helps you look at things slightly differently?

Yeah, because there’s no way that I could have understood the Chinese culture without going to China. So I think until you, the more I go out and explore places, we can’t get into the heads of who we’re designing for, if we’re helping a business, we need to get into the heads of who they’re targeting, which again, I know we do with archetypes, but yeah, like living in China, it was a completely different culture. Until you live there, you don’t understand if you’re designing for Nestle in Australia and the market is China, well, they don’t have supermarkets there in the same way that we do here.

So the point that people are connecting with that brand is so much of it is online. So much of it is a digital experience. And actually, Heinz, to name an example of an FMCG type brand that has recently done a really good job by simply on all of, because everyone is shopping online now, you’re not actually going to the supermarket.

All they’ve done is they’ve used JKR, I think it’s an agency, and they’ve dropped color behind each of the cans of soup. Now, we’re emotive people, we’re drawn to certain colors. So actually, when I look online and everything else has got a boring white backdrop for my can of beans, seeing it’s got a nice pop of color, it elicits that taste.

So even that, like the brand world is more vast than just a visual image. I know you guys have done a really good podcast with audio and how that can tap into different types of people. But I think the taste and the touch in the digital world and yeah, I could never have understood the Chinese market without going there.

It just makes me want to travel everywhere but safer.

Heinz is an interesting brand, because I got my eye on Heinz a little bit, because one of the things that struck me when the pandemic sort of hit was, particularly in the UK, I don’t know if they did this globally, but everyone was struggling to get food, right? Everybody was really struggling to get slots for supermarkets to deliver to their houses and so on. And Heinz did something quite brave, because what they did was, in literally a matter of weeks, they’d rolled out a new service, and I think they did a deal with a logistics provider, direct, and they put together these boxes, like different types of boxes.

So if you were a new mom, you would have loads of baby food and all their baby products. I think you could order, I think it was only like 15 pounds, 20 pounds or something, and you could get that delivered. If you just needed supplies, you could do the same with all their kind of standard beans and products.

Now you didn’t pick what went in the box, you just knew you’re gonna get supplies for like five days, all of Heinz food, right? But the point was, was as an example of a brand who are not just about the veneer, they’re about actually providing and helping a customer. What a brilliant example to us all they’ve been.

And I personally am astounded at the work that they’re doing over there in Heinz. And it sounds like you are too, Lisa.

Yeah, like they really are. And I think that’s a perfect example of a bold pivot. So they’ve not done something completely different and gone like, oh, let’s make baby food or let’s make trainers, or let’s turn everything that we make into hand sanitizer, which is kind of at the start of the pandemic, everyone who previously made gin started making hand sanitizer, which is awesome for a time.

But when the vaccine comes, we’re all gonna be kind of injecting ourselves with gin. But I think Heinz as well, I think in Shelf Impacters, Mark and I talked about Heinz from a point of, they also were part of the UK put together a rescue package for people who actually lost out on all their salary and didn’t have a lot of money. And one of the things in that package was a can of Heinz beans and some tea bags.

And how good is that as a brand story? I don’t think they marketed it enough or they promoted it enough is that you’re one of England’s staple ingredients. You’re one of British best.

There was some great brands that could have done that here in Australia based on that.

Yeah, it’s just one of those stories that are so much more memorable than all the other ads that just came out there. We’re like, we’re in this together and everyone had the same message and the same piano music playing. And it’s just so yawn where those sorts of stories are just so much more memorable.

And I was also gonna touch on before you and you’re talking about color and you’re touching on all the senses. And really that’s what branding is about is managing all the senses that are going out there, all the signals, sorry. So that is so powerful when you can send the right message.

And myself, I’m a big traveler myself, I’ve nearly been to a hundred countries. And I had this question about traveling and culture and how it has affected my designs. To be honest, it hasn’t affected design per se.

Like it hasn’t really changed any of how I design, but it has given me more empathy and more understanding of humanity and how people live in different cultures and how people communicate in those cultures. And just going through certain countries where you can’t speak the language, such as I haven’t been to China myself, but like anywhere in South America where there’s literally no English. So you have to get by with noises or just seeing certain symbols or semiotics or whatever it is to pick up on what they’re trying to communicate.

And it’s just so powerful when you can communicate in those ways and then not just through written words. So I’m glad, I just want to go back to that.

I totally love to hear, Jacob, I totally love to hear how you’d say hello to someone just using noises. Anyway, we weren’t asking you to do it on air.

One of them big like waves, like foot wall wave things like in the soccer.

I’ve definitely done a few animal noises, a few animal noises for a few years.

Brilliant, brilliant, let’s do it off air. We don’t want to put our listeners through that.

Maybe you should do that in the end, just to say goodbye, we should say an elephant.

I say goodbye to an elephant, I love it. I was gonna kind of sort of move the conversation on now, if that’s all right, into, because creativity, so you asked kind of my take on it. I didn’t sort of say this at the time, I didn’t get around to it, but I just wanted to say like for me, running teams of designers, running teams of creatives and running, working with leadership teams and innovation teams as I do now to really kind of create stuff, experiences that work.

One thing I kind of often say to folks is, the number one sort of enemy of creativity, in my view, is fear, right? And it’s interesting how you’ve coupled creative bravery. So we’ve gotta be brave, we’ve gotta open up spaces for folks to be able to come up with new stuff and it’d be okay if it’s not quite right and it’d be all right if it gets shut down or it’s not a good idea.

Because if you don’t, if you make them feel silly or stupid or you don’t create that space, then what happens is people don’t do it. They feel like, well, there’s no point because I’m just gonna get shot down and look like an idiot. So I think it’s so important that we open up those spaces so that ideas can flow and come out.

And I was gonna ask you, like, where do you think and how do you think we come up with new ideas? What are your, have you got any tips, any thoughts for brands, business leaders, designers who are thinking outside the box? You know, what do you do?

How do we get those new ideas, Lisa?

Well, in terms of when you go into work with clients and things like that, like ultimately, normally it comes from, traditionally it’s come from a product point of view. We’ve got a product, we’ve got a service, but actually twisting it around, like I’ve been doing so much work with, because there’s a nice little Sydney startup group and there are always people going like, I’ve got this idea and I’ve got this idea. And you kind of got like every brand strategist or designer goes like, it’s just a good idea.

Like the amount of things that you’re gonna, and beyond that, what is it? It’s just a quick buck. It’s a quick way to make a bit of money.

It’s a challenger brand that, there’s 10,000 out there, which is when I guess that’s when you walk in and go, okay, why should I care? I mean, I’ve been lucky enough in that the people that I’ve worked with, or maybe it’s through choice, they choose to work with me. They go like, oh, she’s gonna push our boundaries and stuff, or it’s that energy that you bring to the room.

Like I have a fear of working with people who are really negative, who are the people that go like, it’s their fault, it’s their problem. So I kind of navigate my way to people who at least wanna have a go, or they come to me maybe when they go, look, we want something different. We want something a bit fresh.

We don’t want the evolution. We wanna see if we can go to the revolution, which is something that when you’re in agencies, you get more of the people who go, I know what I want. And then your job as a creative director or as a designer is to convince them, you can have what you want, but what about this?

And that’s kind of when you wanna push the boundaries. So I think, I guess for businesses who don’t naturally think bravery, like work with people like us, ultimately, work with creative people who will ask questions, be curious about everything. So in terms of like, how do I do it?

Like I walk into a room and ask loads of questions. If someone, and just kind of dig at things a bit more, don’t just chip the veneer. Like when we talk about archetypes or, even like we said earlier about core values, like if someone comes to your table and goes, well, I consider myself, like we’re a brave company.

You go, okay, how is that?

Yeah. I love the bit that you make people feel comfortable enough that they can open up to you. So like, for some reason, like that’s the bit that I, because I guess when I was earlier in my career, when you’re a junior designer and someone comes in and tells you what to do, like I always wanted to be at that bit of your career where you’re presenting the work to clients and you get to the ones that ask them questions.

So we talked about titles and all of these different things like, creative director for me is that you get to drive the creative. You present the work, you get the feed, but you know where to take it. And so I suppose in terms of like, where’s it going with it?

In terms of where you push it and strategies like, work with people like us that can push you that bit further. Ask loads of questions, like even businesses and stuff. Like I actually don’t have any clients that have walked in and gone, I just want this.

Or if they do, then I’ve always asked the question.

So you know, when you’ve asked the questions, you’ve found the, you’ve challenged, perhaps you’ve started to get business leaders to realize there’s gaps in what they say and in fact, what they do in reality. So we’ve established there’s a gap. Like, how do you then set about trying to help them kind of fill that gap?

Well, ultimately, you’ve got to find out what the goal is. So the key thing is that we don’t just walk into places and go, I think you’ve got a problem. Or if someone comes to us, you don’t go like, we’re problem solvers, we’re not problem creators.

So it’s more about working with them to go, okay, where do we want to be? Explore the market, explore the space. Who do we want to target?

Like get into the real heart of who they are. Like people buy into stories. They don’t buy into just a product or a service.

Like it’s the story and the magic that goes behind it. And so our job is to go in and dig around until we find that bit of magic that we can then tell to the world that people might be interested in, not just our. Like I’ve got a great client at the moment.

And they’ve been in the space of protein for like over 10 years. They’re dominating in the space. But ultimately there are so many challenger brands coming into the space that they don’t know.

They’re like, oh, we’ve only just done our core values. And they’re just internal. So they’ve done their core values, but only they know them, which is great.

You go, okay, now it’s time to start rippling it through your branding. And also understanding like you tell the people what it means, but actually if I’m a consumer, what does it mean?


How do I feel it? How do I experience it?


Yeah. And just, you know, just even like working on like metaphors and things, I use metaphors quite a lot. I use like put in different ways to say things.

I’m quite good at taking something really complex because if I can unpack it in my head and get to understand it, I can make someone else understand it. I’m a very simple person. So if I can unpack it and put it back out there in the world, pretty much anything.

And that’s all we want. Like we want to simplify complex messages because we don’t have time for anything else.

Branding is so complex in the beginning anyway. So to simplify it is so key because we always have to educate our clients. And I love when you said be curious and ask questions to dig deeper because often clients do come to us and say, oh, we just need this.

It always happens. We need a logo, we need a website or we need a more market share. But when you really figure out why they’re coming to you, that’s when the magic is uncovered and that’s how you can change culture, how you can innovate and that’s everything you’ve just talked about.

So do you want to dig deeper into that case study if you can talk about that one?

That particular protein one? Oh, that’s kind of in the process at the moment. So I’m working with them on their core values and how we put that through the brand rather than just like…

The interesting thing for me is I’m working directly with a marketing team and actually, do you know what? For so many years, I was a bit like, oh, brand is so different to marketing, but they actually need to talk, don’t we? We sort of need to talk and I know we’re coming at it from a brand’s point of view, but you kind of go like marketing, just push out the message and we come in as brand people and go like, you need not saying the message, right?

But actually, if you work together really well and they’re a legend of a marketing team, they’re really, really nice. So it’s just a matter of like, hold off, guys, before we start pushing things out, let’s think about what we’re gonna say.

So can you talk about the process you actually go with them? I know you can’t talk about details, but how do you actually… They come to you with this problem, right?

They’re losing market share to these challenger brands. How do you actually go through the process? You talked about core values, but what’s next after that?

How do you guide them through the process before going to the marketing team?

Well, definitely we do some consumer research and the kind of people that they wanna… Again, this is where we use archetypes and stuff to the kind of people. And they were quite set in the type of people they wanna target.

They’ve got so much data on their existing people who were buying it. They’re actually a company who’ve invested an awful lot in data. They know so much about it.

But I come in with my little gut feeling and you go, okay, I think it’s important to look at the data. Like I love to work with data analysts and I’m someone who, yeah, like it’s nice to have the data to back it up. But ultimately, quite good gut instinct.

You normally know where it needs to go, but you need the data to prove that you’re right. So the process with them has been a case of, okay, let’s take everything that you’ve got. Specifically, they actually only sell online, but they’re looking to move into a consumer space.

So they’re gonna be in retail stores and stuff. And they’ve just never even thought about their packaging design. So obviously, my background is as a packaging brand designer.

So they actually originally brought me in to go, we’re thinking about designing our packaging, at which point I come in as the strategic designer and go, I think we can do more. And then when you start explaining to them like why, they understand it. You kind of go, look, because I think you need to make that connection.

People have been buying you for 10 years. Let’s make sure they keep buying you. So there’s a lot of kind of sitting around a table with marker pens and Sharpies.

There’s even, like I’m actually even working with their in-house design team there at the moment, because they’ve got people who go like, we’ve seen some pretty packaging, and then you sort of have to explain like, it’s not about making something that looks pretty. It’s about creating things like brand assets and things that can connect to people, the words, the tone of voice that you use, and especially because they want to launch overseas as well. So that’s when the global stuff comes in quite well, because even if it’s a market that you’ve not traveled to or been to, you know that you need to empathize with that market.

So what resonates with us like this is an Australian company. So they resonate quite well with Aussies, but if they’re suddenly launching into an American market, it’s cluttered as a space already. How do you make that connection?

Why am I going to pick you? Because you’re Australian-made? Because you’re built for, you know, their archetype is a hero.

So, you know, they’re bought, everything is there. They’re just not communicating it or putting it out there in the world very well.

I think you made so many awesome points, Deth, and I also think that one thing that I find fascinating is when brands want to go global, I’ve taken a few global, it’s also the assets and the machinery that needs to go behind that, as you say, because suddenly you’ve got to tailor, you’ve got to have a consistency in how your brand shows up, but you’ve got to tailor your messaging, your tone, sometimes your photography, your imagery, so it fits culturally. Like you can’t show dogs next to people in Muslim countries, you can’t offend cows in Hindu cultures. These are like literally deaf to your brand if you don’t have cultural sensitivity.

So semiotics that you mentioned earlier is so important when you come to roll it out. And it’s so funny how many business leaders, marketing teams even don’t fully kind of think through the brand meaning on a real kind of top level human perspective before then they allow that meaning to trickle into a cultural perspective. You’re absolutely right, so I’m on board, but that machinery behind it is so creepy.

So how do you guys twist it around? Or either of you work with like a brand or a person that wants to go into that. How do you get them into that space?

What are your tools?

So what I tend to do is, my tools are always, and probably similar to yourself, Lisa, for me, it’s about getting people in the Zoom, if you like, getting people connected and aligned. So my massive thing is alignment, right? You can’t do stuff like that unless everybody understands why they’re doing it in the first place, from a strategic basis.

So there’s obviously commercial alignment, which businesses don’t have a problem with. We’ll go to this market because it will make us more money, quite simply, makes sense. And we’ve got logistics and we’ve got this and we’ve got all the kind of the supply chain we need.

Great. But what they forget is, is okay, well, how are we actually now gonna communicate in that market? How are we actually gonna create brand assets, like you said, to do that?

So the way that I play that is, I very much am a big fan of getting people together, right? And we work it through what milestones, what has to happen, why does it have to happen? How are we gonna sense check this?

Are we gonna do customer focus groups and all of that? And then basically build out a milestone plan of where are we gonna go and then get on and help people do it, and it’s about, it’s just sometimes I just think businesses that can get so sort of bogged down in the politics and that’s not my job, as an outside strategist, I’m probably similar to yourself, it’s kind of like, well, what do we need to do? Let’s get on and do it.

Who’s in charge of that? You, okay, you do that. So you could do that as an outsider sometimes and with knowledge of how you’ve done it before, whereas if they haven’t done it, they struggle.

I don’t know, what are your thoughts, Jacob?

Yeah, I was gonna say that if you’re moving into another country, the strategy that you have in one country is not gonna be the exact same strategy in another country. The market share, the whole strategy is gonna be different and the market share that you have in this country may not necessarily be the same in the other country, especially when there’s so much noise, especially in the US market, for example, where it’s just, it is this crazy, crazy. There’s so many choices, like, just brings it back to walking down the aisles, whereas it’s like so many, it’s like overwhelming.

So it’s really figuring out the market as you’re talking about to, and seeing how you can pivot your, or change your strategy to adapt to that market as well.

And even understanding even how countries can be kind of split up, because like you said about America, and when I was at Parker Williams, we did a lot of work with Walmart, but actually understanding even the difference between marketing to a store that’s in New York versus somewhere in Bentonville, Arkansas, for example, where Walmart is based, that it’s a completely different mindset, and you have to kind of put your head into that mindset, and then you have to design for it, and then you get design is so subjective as well. So actually the biggest challenge is when you get all of those people who are the decision makers, but not the people who buy the product. So I know that when I worked at Parker Williams in the UK, sitting around a room full of, there were 10 product designers or product leaders, and we were rebranding Russell Hobbs.

So it’s a UK, like European well-known brand. And the reason they wanted to redesign it is they were losing shelf space to own brands, private labels, you Brevlos, things like that. And also as well, because their brand guidelines that had been done a while ago, countries like Australia were running amok with them.

They were starting to put on the top of a toaster box. They put a picture of flames on the top of a toaster box because you could just use any sort of image. So premium toaster, we’ve got a picture of a few flames on there because we were like a bit of a live fire out here, why not?

It heats your toast.

Barbecues, Australians, kind of, yeah, I understand it. Yeah, lovely stereotype in there. But the thing for me is, no, really fascinating in terms of how you do that.

But it’s also when you, so you know you’re saying like, how do you do that? So for me, it’s like, that’s why I’m a huge fan of focus groups, like to sense check stuff. But focus groups made of the people, the customers, and even so externally expressed, but I’ve found it as well internally.

So, as you say, if you’ve got a centralized team and they’re making a lot of decisions, like culturally, that’s kind of, from a business perspective, you think, oh, that makes sense. This team will deploy that globally. But that team, you need people on the ground that support it, that understand it.

And culturally, you need to make sure your business culture reflects it as well. So for me, there’s huge amounts of work when businesses want to spread out a little bit. And that is where Creative Bravery really comes in.

Because for me, you’ve got to have ideas, as we’ve sort of been exploring here, on the communications front, on the infrastructure front, on the innovation front, on the systems front, you need to get people together and you need to create that space so they can come up with ideas that isn’t always just the veneer. It’s also the innovation around the products and the deployment of those, and the experiences to the customers and employees.

And I think as well, also there’s a level of bravery in terms of just binning stuff, like letting stuff go. So I think there’s also the element of bravery in terms of, I mean, I don’t know how you feel about focus groups, but people used to hate them in our industry and in agency land, but actually that’s where you get the nuggets of information where no one else would pick it up, but you might go in because you’re a different creative thinker to someone else and go, oh, but they said if it didn’t have read in it, they wouldn’t resonate with that brand. And there are certain little nuggets of information that you can pull out and that’s when it’s our job to go, I think this is really critical and important that no one else has spotted it.

If it didn’t have fire on the box.

Yeah, put the fire on the box. Like I think it should be like, no one else wants it, but just do it. Put the folded socks on, whatever it is.

I was running a focus group, I think it was last week or a couple of weeks ago. And yeah, we had customers there and it was for a B2B brand. And we were showing them three, I was working alongside a creative team and we were showing them creative directions.

I call them potential futures, right? So we had like a safe one, not so safe one and an insane one, right? And just visual languages, I’m sure we’re all fairly familiar with this.

And I was presenting these to the focus group. And one of the gentlemen in the group, he said, oh, that looks awful. That makes you look like some sort of tech kind of TV innovation company, right?

And so afterwards we got together in our little huddle and we were like, what do we think? And before we go back to the leadership team and make a recommendation, and everyone was like, oh no, not number three, because that guy thought it made us look like a TV company, like some sort of tech TV company. I was like, oh, hang on a second, hang on a second.

Because the whole strategy was to reposition the brand in the market as an innovator. And so I made the case that actually that guy, because it was new to him, his initial reaction was like, oh no, that doesn’t look like where you are now. That looks like you’re an innovation company.

I was like, that’s a good thing. That’s what we want. So then everyone was like, yeah.

So we went and presented it to the leadership team. They loved it. So that’s, and we brought this up and we said, look, it was perceived as a negative thing because it, or the story, et cetera.

And then they were like, yeah, that’s where we wanna go. So we’ve got a really radical B2B brand coming forward. So these are the things you’re right in the focus groups.

You’ve got to think a little bit outside the box. I think focus groups got a bad rap because we asked the wrong questions. And also we didn’t use them properly in the past.

I think now we, as you say, you need to use your gut. You need to use emotions. You need to see what people are actually saying behind the scenes.

And you need to have a strategic lens on, like you were saying, where do we wanna go?

Otherwise, they just exist to prove a point, right? Otherwise they’re just like they’re to prove that they’re wrong or that they’re right. Actually, there’s some nuggets of information that we need to draw out there and then think beyond the, we just want someone to buy into us now, like where they’re gonna be.

That’s kind of the interesting space at the moment, isn’t it? Because people are thinking like, all right, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. And at the beginning of it, everyone was pushing out messages everywhere.

Like, I just wanna say that I’m here, that I’m doing this, that I’m here to help. And like Jacob said, like so many brands go, and we’re here to help you in a crisis, we’re here. And it was, don’t get me wrong, it was brilliant, some of the stuff the UK did about this, Save the NHS and you know, all of these like really nice, thoughtful messages.

But actually some of the ones that resonated more were the ones that gave us the optimism or came from a completely different kind of, so you could forget about the fact we were in the middle of a pandemic. And you could resonate them with a brand of where you wanna be beyond all of this. Cause we don’t wanna think we’ll be in this chaos forever.

They’re kind of, where am I gonna be beyond this? And that’s where we look to things like Nike or, you know, like they’re the brands that I guess we always pull on as examples, the ones that support who, where we wanna be in five years time or even in a year’s time at the moment. And everything is semi, you know, back to open.


And Matt, you were saying before about how you went to your leadership team. And I just want to touch on the fact that you went back to the original briefing, the reason why you’re doing it. And having that value up or that defined upfront is the key to selling through ideas to the leadership team.

And if you haven’t really defined that in the beginning, that’s when ideas get lost and this bravery gets chucked out the door. So I really just want to emphasize that point of really defining the briefing in the beginning to ensure that you can sell through ideas.

That’s a really good point, actually, Jacob. And even just to define in the goal, like, okay, at the end of it, when someone goes like, I want a logo, okay, why? So yeah, like even if, yeah, it’s a really big thing that I think not enough designers do question it.

Yeah, they’re curious, ask questions, dig deeper.

Yeah, I was just gonna say one area I think as well is that that’s helpful when you’re coming up with kind of creative, brave ideas is when you come across a business and their goal is to build market share or to grow, which is obviously a common one, right? And what you find is when you’re in commoditized marketplaces is that the one of the obvious strategies is to stand out, right? Everybody needs to stand out.

Hopefully for the right reasons, you’ve got to figure out what those reasons are, but then you get to the point where you wanna really stand out, right? You say, okay, so how are we gonna do that? What experiences, like you were saying earlier, Lisa, why would somebody choose us over somebody else?

What reasons are we giving them? We’ve got to build those into the actual offer, the actual business. It’s not just the way that we communicate.

And then once we’ve done that, the kind of the amazing, the sort of the brave thing then is to push that out. Now, what I’m trying to say here is that is the concept of differentiation. And if that is part of the brief at the start, it can, and you’ve agreed that, right?

You say to everyone, when there’s no emotion, nothing on the table, so we wanna be different, right? And we wanna be different so that we stand out, right? And everyone’s like, yeah.

And then you go, okay, so then lay it down the line when you’re like, da-da! They’re like, what, that’s really different? You’re like, yeah, but do you remember?

That’s the goal.

Always record that Zoom call.

Yeah, yeah, record it and play it, and have it on repeat in the background. So yeah, I mean, so I found that sometimes that is, and obviously that doesn’t work for every project. Some people, their strategy isn’t to be different, it’s just to be more relevant.

You know, or whatever it might be. But if difference is there, then the Creative Bravery to be different, you know, needs to be pushed strategically to the team so that they can make those decisions. What do you think about that?

And do you think that different strategists and different designers exist for different, because I would say like, I am quite good at pushing people to, I was always a designer, and it was one of the things that you go like, as a designer, and you guys have been there, you do option one, which is exactly what the client wants, option two, which is pushing it a bit further, and option three, that is the, wow, you really didn’t think this could exist. And I always used to get critique from creative directors to go like, you always jump to three, and we just need you to do one and two first. And I think after so many years, you go like, I’m sick of doing one and two.

Like, do the Chern and Byrne guys can do that one, especially when you do work for Aldi and stuff like that. But do you think that there are different like strategic type people who are, you know, who can do your one and two? Like, do those people exist, or is that just like, that’s just the answer before they come to us?

Well, my view is that there is, but my personal aim as a strategist is to have, you know, a variety of skills to bring to the table. And I think there’s nothing wrong with being the strategist that is always the nutty one that kind of really pushes things. But also likewise, there’s nothing wrong with being the strategist that sort of plays it safe and brands go to to move them on a little bit.

My personal view is like, I like to come in with a variety of tools in the toolbox. And I like to sort of explore them because you never, sometimes, let’s be honest, some brands, they don’t even know at the start of an engagement really what they need. And for me, it’s about the customer.

So what is this, and the marketplace, like you were saying, until you’ve done a research, you don’t really know at the start of an engagement what they need to reach the goals. So that’s my kind of view.

And that’s the best bit, isn’t it?

Yeah, I was gonna say that the more you learn about strategy as design, coming from a design background, the more you learn about strategy, the more you can grab tools out of that toolbox, right? And you can apply it to your thinking. And the more you go up the rungs of the ladder, you solve bigger problems.

And that’s really why Matt and I started this, is to talk about that, how designers can bring more strategy into their work to help solve bigger problems.


Awesome. So we’re sort of coming to the end now. I think we’ve had an awesome, I’ve said awesome about four times in one sentence there, but we’ve had an awesome conversation, haven’t we guys?

This whole concept of Creative Bravery, I’ve loved digging into it. There’s so many sides to it, this idea of being brave. So I guess the message of today’s podcast, in fact, well, what is the message, Lisa, of this podcast for you?

I think I’d like to encourage anyone who’s looking at this podcast or listening to it to take the risk or push yourself to think a bit beyond the answer you already think it is. Like be curious. I suppose that’s my ultimate thing is be curious.

If you’re a brand, if you’re a creative, or even the way that we’ve all pivoted, we were obviously curious to go a bit beyond where we were. You know, like all of us have got to, like we’ve all been brave in our own capacities and that we’ve gone, I’m here. How do I push beyond here?

And that’s the definition of creativity. Someone put a great definition of innovation is bravery in action. Perfect.

Like we’re only gonna change the world with a little bit of bravery, right?

Love it. You have a mic that you’re holding in your hand. Can you just do a mic drop?

Very good.

So Lisa, where can people find you?

You can find me on LinkedIn, Lisa Hastings, website lisahastings.me. Instagram is shoebox20. That’s another story for another time.

And the podcast is Shelf Impacters, which is not about branding, but it is very much about creative.

Thank you so much, Lisa. It’s been awesome having you on. Me and Jacob have thoroughly enjoyed your company.

Thank you.

It’s been awesome.

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