Strategy meets design. A discussion of the creativity inherent in facts.
Andreas Weber and Philipp Wiederhöft
March 12, 2021
How do strategy and design work best together? We asked our design lead Andreas Weber and our strategist Philipp Wiederhöft about what makes perfect teamwork. A discussion about prejudice, openness and gut instinct – and what happens when strategically minded designers meet creative strategists.
Andreas: Let’s talk about how designers and strategists drive one another mad.
Philipp: Draw the lines and dig right in, you mean?
Andreas: Yes, exactly. What I find interesting is when strategists act as if they know how it is supposed to look and then incorporate that into the process as an expectation from the outset. What is your world like, Philipp?
Philipp: Strategists are naturally involved in a process from the very beginning and delve deep down into the topic, whereas designers, thanklessly, are often brought in much later on. This creates a sense of imbalance.
Andreas: Designers who have a strategic understanding are integrated into processes very differently. The same goes for strategists who have an eye for design.
Philipp: When does strategy enrich your design?
Andreas: I find that strategy has an immensely emotional level to it. When I read strategies, I often see images appearing. For me, these are the first steps towards a brand actually having life and experience. Good strategy creates identity in my mind.
Philipp: As it should be! If a brand’s strategy doesn’t trigger anything in you, how is the brand supposed to?
Andreas: There is a creativity to be found in facts and figures which a strategist tries to extract! A strategy that has a certain creativity to it. Or how would you describe it?
Philipp: Yes! Through analysis, structure and clarity, we create the opportunity to find something that wilfully breaks out and away from regularity. A thought that defies convention and what we already know. A solution cannot be created without creativity.
Andreas: I find analysis which gives me, a designer or client, an insight into the brand through someone else’s eyes exciting. If you’re too close to something, you will no longer be able to see the reality.
Philipp: Why do designers give so little strategy feedback?
Andreas: Because you’re lone wolves and only invite us when you’re finished. (laughs)
Philipp: I do often spend a lot of time working on my own, of course. And I mull over sentences, derivations and thoughts before I share them with anyone. There are no draft strategies that way. Design, on the other hand, needs drafts. It is exciting to reject this perfectionism that is often in strategy and say: That is a draft. It points in a direction. And it’s open for input.
Andreas: Fantastic! There’s one strategy phrase which I have disliked ever since I started brand work: “Ah, no, I had something completely different in mind.” Maybe this agile point, this design stage, is our big chance. For both sides.
Philipp: In an ideal world, how much gut instinct and intuition go into this agility?
Andreas: How much gut instinct? Loads. Combining to produce creative momentum.
Philipp: So more design in the strategy phase?
Andreas: More openness and feedback, regardless of whether we’re in the strategy or design phase! More team spirit and less perfectionism in the creative process. Not having to do everything immediately and alone. Instead: Everything has its place. Out with it. Out with it.
Philipp: I think it’s often hard to talk about drafts because so much arises from intuition. But intuition in turn is nothing more than the product of flair, experience and knowledge. This means that intuitive drafts are absolutely full of consideration and strategy. Only it’s subconscious. If we talk more about it, we ourselves might better understand how creative ideas arise and where they originate. Exciting!