Why Visual Thinking? - This is ORB Blog

Why Visual Thinking?

By February 28, 2018Visual Thinking

To celebrate Jim, our Head of Illustration, being at ORB for 10 years (yes he’s as old as he looks), one of our strategists sat down with him for a quick chat about the power of visual thinking and his experience of using it to help clients.

What makes visual thinking so useful when it comes to the branding process?

It’s a bit like the saying “Don’t think of an elephant?”. If you just take words on face value, it’s hard to get away from their direct definition and think of other things. Once we start to visualise something though, everyone has their own interpretations; it brings memories, experiences, hopes, fears, passions etc. into play.

We often find businesses sometimes struggle to see the wood for the trees when it comes to their brand strategy because their focus is too narrow. If they can’t see the bigger picture, they struggle to properly explore an issue and come up with fresh ideas. Visual thinking helps them to do that, and see things differently.

Do you have any particular examples of how visual thinking has helped a business see something differently?

Well, I guess I’ll give you my top three that spring to mind.

Most of the time clients say they’re innovative but can’t explain how or why. But one client didn’t actually think they were innovative at all – they thought innovation just meant inventing new products or doing something flashy. During our Visual Thinking Session we pulled out quite a few examples of times they had solved problems for their clients, how they offered a different experience to their competitors, and how they actually had a special way of managing projects. They didn’t call these innovations until we got them to see them differently through visual thinking, and got them away from their preconception of what business innovation meant.

My second example is a really interesting session we did with a client that believed their internal teams all wanted different things. Through our Visual Thinking Session though we were able to get them to see a much bigger picture and bring everyone’s views together. What they found was they actually had really good alignment, everyone wanted the same things done the same way, but their communication was poor. They left our session with a totally new outlook on their business and a clear idea of the journey to solve their problems.

My third example is from a recent Customer Journey Session we did. We asked them to visualise the ideal customer they wanted to target, and how they were different from the customer they didn’t want to target. It wasn’t until they looked at the bigger picture (literally), that they were able to connect the dots from earlier points in the session, and realised that most of their current customers were the wrong type of customers. That was really big for them, they walked away realising they needed a completely different strategy to go after that audience.

Does your hand ever get tired?

Oh yes.


Jim has been developing ORB’s visual thinking tools for the past ten years, helping us to unlock brands, flip business problems on their heads and rethink how branding adds value and commercial impact. If you're interested in joining the long list of businesses ORB have helped through visual thinking then get in touch.

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