I’m Stef Hamerlinck. A brand designer and strategist. I founded Let’s talk branding so I can help other designers learn more about strategy, design and branding.

5 lessons from  Scramble, Marty Neumeier's latest book.

5 lessons from Scramble, Marty Neumeier's latest book.

Marty Neumeier, writer of seminal books such as the Brand Gap, the Brand Flip and a few more, has written a new book: Scramble. This time he flipped the normal concept of a business book and turned it into a real story with suspense, drama and even a little bit of romance. But don’t be fooled, underneath this moving story are some big lessons and take-aways. 

The book takes us on a journey through the life of David Stone, a CEO that has to create a turn around strategy for his company to stop it from going to wrong way. Not only is his job on the line, the company is also struggling to generate revenue. They hire an external firm to facilitate the strategy and this is where the magic begins. Neumeier takes us to the highs and lows of this process, in a true Hitchcockian fashion.

1. Brand Strategy isn’t always a linear, step-by-step process.

A lot of frameworks and theories give the impression that creating a good strategy means following a clear step-by-step process. It’s not that simple. Although there are certain tools and frameworks that enable thought provoking exercises, it’s not that simple. Strategy is all about collisions between people, ideas, concepts, truths and misconceptions. You need to create an environment to let strategy happen and let it flow around. 

2. Design thinking can enable creative thinking and solve real problems.

In Neumeier’s book, the group of people over at BigSky, the fictional company that is in need of a turn-around strategy, are helped by a consulting agency that uses ‘agile strategy’ as a methodolgy to facilitate and help develop the strategy. It’s interesting to see that the whole method of design thinking is applied to brand strategy. For example, one of the techniques used in the process is ‘Swarming’, where they attack a strategic problem from different angles at once. Swarming allows ideas to collide and create new directions. Also concepts such as the 5 Q’s and P’s are really interesting to look into and they are really well explained explained in the book.

3. Strategy shouldn’t be ‘top down’. It needs to be created in a collaborative environment.

In this story, it’s clear that strategy can’t be ‘imposed’ on a team. Rather than just telling a team what to do, they let everyone chime in and develop a strategy together, in a collaborative environment. Not only is this strategy a lot more valuable because of the different expert-angles, it is carried a lot further by the whole company. This is important when excecuting a strategy on the long run. 

4. Trust in the process, even if time is upon you

Facing a ‘deadly’ deadline, the team feels really at times with the amount of work ahead. Yet, by taking things step by step and allowing the process and design techniques to do their thing, things start taking of. Never jump ahead of strategy when facing a deadline, trust in the process and allow things to bounce around in your head. It’s better to have 5 slides with good insights than 10 slides with solutions that don’t address the right problem. 

5. Selling the strategy is crafting a story.

Convincing stakeholders about a certain strategy is really hard. All the hardcore thinking, in-deep conversations, customer research,… can’t be presented in 10 minutes. You need to paint a clear picture so that the spirit of the strategy is understood. Start with illustrating the problem, then show the heart of the strategy and end by presenting the opportunities.

But do it with clarity and brevity. Although it’s tempting to include a lot of ‘graphs’ and metrics that show all the work you’ve done, the essence is telling the right story, presenting the best version of what the strategy can be for the company. Think about a clear start, middle and ending. And a good tip, keep a ‘killer slide’ with a major opportunity as as an extra slide. When the tough questions start coming, proudly present that killer slide and awe the entire room.

Of course, I can’t tell you the whole story, but I hope that I have given you some new insights and that you are triggered to read the book.

p.s: this is an affiliate link, so if you buy trough this link, you’ll be supporting the Let’s talk branding podcast and community. Big thanks! 🙌

LTB S2 012 Graham Robertson - Beloved brands

LTB S2 012 Graham Robertson - Beloved brands

LTB S2 011 Haraldur Thorleifsson - Ueno founder

LTB S2 011 Haraldur Thorleifsson - Ueno founder