Accelerate with Design Sprints

Accelerate with Design Sprints

A better form of brand creation

Our Design Sprint process is a blend of the agency pitch model and Agile development, designed to create a final outcome in a short time frame through iteration and focus. Often, agencies win business through a process similar to this. When a big new client comes in, they’ll put a dedicated team together to draft ideas quickly, review and reject and refine them, and quickly move towards something great to show the client. Then after they’ve won the account, the put their clients into a different process than what they just bought. One that’s slower, with more junior people, without the focus and iteration that made the pitch great.

Our Sprint process is a way to do what makes agencies work well when they’re at their best, while modifying it for better client involvement:

A focused team, working in parallel
Propose solutions immediately for feedback
Iterate and enhance to final product

What is a Sprint?

A Sprint in the Agile technology world is a very specific thing. Agile itself is a somewhat ironic term – it’s possibly the least flexible of any method. And we find clients absolutely hate working within it. It works well for product teams (that’s who it’s “agile” for), because it specifies very specific problems to be solved, is scaled to the size and speed of the team, and it very clear on what it means to be “done.” The sprint is simply a block of activity within that model. 

Sounds good! But again, clients tend to hate it. Why? Well – they can’t really say how long something will take or how much it will cost, they can only commit to this one block. If they go over – it just goes in the backlog. We’ll get to it later! (Agile product owners will be very familiar with the infinite backlog.) Because things change – and that’s what our clients need more than anything else – the ability to change.

So how do we take the best of a targeted, clear and timeboxed sprint and make it flexible for marketers and brand owners? That’s the XO Sprint.

What we keep from the Agile methodology

We’ve seen over and over the value of clear problems to solve, dedicated time, and iteration.

We add flexiblity for our clients by focusing on rapid prototyping of the final work. What that means is we’ll first agree on a set of deliverables that represent the brand experience. It can be a website, a print mail piece, a packaging design – anything that represents a customer’s experience with the messaging and brand.

We take that agreed-upon kit of assets and build them all together, all at once. Often the first round of review will have 3 different brands directions to review, all represented in the way the customer will experience them. 

We take input and feedback, and narrow into the one with the most promise, and enhance it from there. That’s 1 sprint. After 3 sprints we usually have a brand that you can be confident in, because you were able to change it and shape it along the way.


Design Sprinting for Brands

The same process that leading companies use to design product, we apply to brand marketing.

Wrap it up already

Sprints offer unique advantages, but only when change is embraced

Agile methodology and Sprint formats are all the rage – but we have to be careful when translating something that works for engineers into something that works for marketers. The key ingredient is review and input.  Our first round is not an attempt to make a solution, but rather a provocation for feedback. By embracing iteration of an entire brand asset kit, you can get farther, faster, and with more confidence that your customer will resonate. Add a round of customer reactions midstream – and you’re in an even better position for success.

By Scott Donnell | Managing Director

Scott brings an inspired approach to design strategy as the Managing Director and Head of Design at XO Agency – unifying the strategic elements of the design process with the refined intuition of a veteran creative. His diverse leadership experience ranges from launching global enterprise digital experiences, to internal cultural storytelling, developing new brands, and creating omni-channel campaigns.