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12 Steps that drive Brand Growth & use Design Thinking

The association of Brand Growth and Design Thinking together isn’t commonplace, yet, my many experiences tell me otherwise. I see the synergy, resulting in leader / team empowerment, confidence building, higher-levels of happiness, high-performances, increases in bottom line and a substantial upwards shift in growth, when we combine Brand Growth and Design Thinking practices.


Why is Brand Growth Holistic?


Brand Growth is holistic, it isn’t something that occurs in isolation, as your brand is your identity, it is the image people have in their mind of you when they interact with your brand. Your brand is your reputation. Your brand is how you present yourself to the world. Your brand is how people experience you when they interact with you. Your brand is more than a name, a logo, and a tagline. Your brand includes the values that underpin your actions; the purpose that drives you; your vision statement encompassing your strategies and growth goals; your mission and the everyday actions you take to live your purpose. Your brand is a story with many chapters.


Your brand might be a business, a team, you as a leader, a town, a region, or a country. Over the years I have been lucky enough to collaborate with many of these types of brands and be part of their growth journey using Design Thinking practices.


Why use Empathy-led Approaches?


Design Thinking practices are series of Empathy-led Approaches that encompass the growth practices of understanding others; innovations; visual communications; research; agile; lean; branding; and marketing. These empathy-led approaches place humans at the centre of growth. Humans create, buy and on sell brands.


Design Thinking Brand Growth practices seek to understand human beings with all of our strengths and our flaws, so we can find opportunities to solve anything from big hairy audacious problems to tiny everyday issues. People buy brands that solve their biggest problems.


What are the 12 Steps that drive Brand Growth?


We use Design Thinking practices and Empathy-led Approaches to help leaders with growing their brands, as they navigate them through turbulent markets that are continually changing and evolving. One way we do this is using the 12-steps that drive Brand Growth using Design Thinking.


What are the 12-steps that drive Brand Growth & use Design Thinking?

1. Have a Brand Growth Goal.

2. Seek to understand all of the influencing factors and their contexts

3. Separate symptoms from problems

4. See opportunities in problems

5. Develop sets of OKRs (Outcomes with Key Results)

6. Develop strategies to achieve each of the OKRs

7. Develop action plans to achieve your strategies

8. Measure your actions, strategies and OKR performances

9. Learn what worked well, where you can improve, and from any mistakes you made. Learn from ALL of your experiences.

10. Adjust your OKRs, strategies, and action plans, as needed.

11. Repeat – measure – learn – adjust

12. Growth occurs when we are prepared to be consistently in a state of learning



1. Brand Growth Goal

If you don’t have a Brand Growth Goal, how will you know where you are going? Having a goal that is big enough to scare you, helps to set your course. Sharing your Brand Growth Goal with your stakeholders helps to keep everyone on the same page, and it helps to filter those who are with you from those who aren’t. When you are clear on where your brand is going, your brand will naturally attract the ”right” people to assist you on your brand growth journey.


2. Seek to understand

Be curious. Ask questions. Learn about others. Learn about your markets. Learn about potential markets. Continue conducting research. Continue to learn. Continue being curious. Have a beginners mindset. Ask questions like: “how can we” or “why not.” Don’t accept the status quo. Refrain from judging. Seek to understand the context and influencing factors of your brand’s ecosystem.


3. Separate symptoms from problems

Symptoms are what we see. Too often we strive to “solve” the symptoms and wonder why we keep encountering the same “problem.” When we separate the symptoms from the problems after engaging in seeking to understand, we learn problems are “pockets of gold.” This is because solving problems lead to immense growth.


4. See opportunities in problems

Are you a half-glass full or a half-glass empty person? When you only see the problem and not the opportunity, you miss growth opportunities. Look for the opportunity to solve the problem.


5. Set Objectives

Once you’ve identified the problem you want to solve, then you can set the objective, which is solving “the problem.” Ensuring the objective is clear and easily understood by anyone is crucial. Effective objectives and OKRs are shared. Having your people understand the outcomes and the key results expected, helps them to produce ways of achieving the objectives. Outcomes and key results help your team, as they can visualise and measure their progress towards them.


6. Develop Strategies

Strategies are distinct from objectives, OKRs, and actions. Strategies are the “high-level” trajectories that guide us towards achieving our OKRs. Sometimes we call these strategies “growth pathways.” When we develop strategies, we are making strategic decisions about which growth pathway to take towards our OKRs.


7. Action plans

Nothing happens without action. Strategies only come to life with a series of action plans, with people’s names against each of the actions, so people “own” their contributions in achieving the actions, which result in brand growth outcomes. Action plans are blueprints empowering people into action.


8. Measure actions

Measuring our performance on our actions helps us to know how we are progressing towards our brand growth goals, our objectives and OKRs. This helps us to know if we have “crushed it” and outperformed; or whether we are on target and performing as expected; or off course. Sometimes things workout and sometimes they don’t. They only way we know we are progressing on our growth trajectory is to measure our growth progress.


9. Reflections

Reflections are powerful learning opportunities to learn and understand what worked well so you can do more of these activities; what didn’t work well, so you can do less of these activities; and what didn’t work at all, so you can learn from mistakes and grow. Empowering your team to reflect and own what worked well, what didn’t work well, and what didn’t work at all is a powerful growth tool.


10. Make Adjustments

Adjusting your objectives, OKRs, Strategies and actions plans from learnings gained in reflections, are how you take the power from reflection learnings, and turn that power into the fuel that guides your future growth actions. Understanding that adjustments are “normal,” as things don’t always go according to plan is the mindset that separates good brand growth from great brand growth. Be curious, seek to understand, and be prepared to do more research when making adjustments.


11. Measure – Learn – Adjust

Continuous improvements at sets of actions that involve everyone in the team measuring, learning, and adjusting. Empowering your team to measure, learn and adjust, helps your brand to grow. Measuring, learning, and adjusting involves repeating all, or of some of the steps, from 1 to 10. Sometimes the growth goal needs tweaking (often this is NOT the case. However, it shouldn’t be ruled out). Mostly, the steps between 5 and 10 are the steps that are repeated in an effort to improve the brand’s growth.


12. Growth is a state of learning

Having a growth mindset and being vulnerable to admit that we don’t know all of the answers; being curious, prepared to learn, and be in a state of lifelong learning is how we continue to grow ourselves, our teams, and our brand. Growth is a state of learning. We are all works in progress: ourselves, our teams, and our brands.


Fourteen years of helping clients achieve brand growth success, researching, and practicing Design Thinking across a broad range of industries, towns, people, and brands, have taught me how to evolve and adapt using Design Thinking to help clients with growing their brands. Design Thinking encompasses sets of growth tools, actions, empathy-led approaches, and activities within all of the twelve steps that drive brand growth.


Register your interest in Brand Growth

At LeadinGrowth we are on a mission to improve brand success rates helping leaders with growing their brands. Keep up-to-date on emerging brand growth news. Registering for your interest in our monthly newsletter.






LeadinGrowth are developing a Brand Growth Packages that provide you with greater detail on how to use Design Thinking across the 12-steps. When you are ready to discover more register your interest. We’ll send you details on how to get on the short list to receive first access to our Brand Growth Package. If you don’t make the short list, no worries, we’ll send you one of our Brand Growth Roadmaps to get you started with your brand growth journey.





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