‘The new normal’, as we are continually reminded, means we’re all having to find new ways of doing things. New ways to connect, new ways to problem-solve (as well as new problems to solve!) and most recently for us, it has meant trying to work out how to run the interactive workshops and sessions we know are invaluable to the strategic brand and digital projects we deliver for clients.
The last couple of months have taught us that all sorts of things are possible, if you think a little differently about what you need to do and how you can tailor your usual processes and tools to fit. Or even better, think of new ones. And because we’re all in the same boat, we’ve found that many clients have been happy to work together to find new solutions and ways of working.
We ran our first virtual Brand Workshop last week for The British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) and after the to-be-expected wobbly start and minor tech fails, it flowed well and turned out to be a great session with lots of positive feedback from all those taking part.
Start with your audience
Be realistic about the kinds of activity people will be happy to do in an online group session, and about the time they can afford to give over to the workshop.
We needed to think a little differently given that everyone would be dialing in and we’d be getting together in a virtual room, not a real one. With any workshop there’s a danger of one or two voices shouting louder than any others, meaning that people can go unheard and valuable insight is lost. We knew that aspect would be particularly difficult to manage in a virtual setting. We also knew some members of the team might shy away from taking part if they’d be forced to interact or speak out. We wanted as many people as possible to join us, so we decided with the client that we may get the greatest uptake if we kept the session quite short and informative, and gave people the opportunity to complete some of the tasks offline at their convenience or work collaboratively in small breakout groups offline.
Set the scene
It’s important to get everyone thinking more broadly about what we mean by Brand before starting any of the tasks
The first thing we will always do in a Brand Workshop is a piece of scene-setting – a short tour of the World of Brands if you like. Why? Because it’s easy to assume that everyone knows what ‘Brand’ is, and to forget that for many when they think of Brand, they will just be thinking of a company logo or possibly a memorable tag line.
If you don’t consider yourself a visually-brained person, taking part in a Brand Workshop can be daunting, with your first thought being ‘What can I bring to the table? I don’t know anything about design or branding.’ Actually, every single person in the room (virtual or otherwise) has so much to offer to the process. Every part of the brand’s audience, whether internal or external, brings a unique perspective. It’s their perception of that brand – everything that it does, says, is and could be – that we are looking to capture through the different activities.
Mix it up
Be realistic about the kind of tasks and exercises people will want to do during the session and tailor and vary your content to suit.
We created a visually engaging deck of activities for people to work their way through, breaking the different tasks down into small, bite-size asks that could each be done quickly, in just 5 or 10 mins at a time, so people could work in a way that suited them and their schedule.
In addition we ran a short group exercise during the online session. It was great to hear so many of the team speak freely, and the ideas shared got everyone thinking.
And we included two tasks that people could either complete on their own or, if they preferred, they could join one of a number of small breakout groups after the session to be able to work more collaboratively.
Make it enjoyable
Critically, the whole thing should be fun, engaging and quick to do!
Probably the most important thing for us to get across was that we weren’t looking for word-perfect, beautifully crafted responses but people’s immediate off-the-cuff reactions and honest input – just like we would be if we’d been running the workshop in the normal way. The main message was ‘Don’t overthink it!’. After all, this was the chance for everyone to have their say, and perhaps say the things about the brand and the organisation that they’ve been long been thinking but have otherwise not had a forum for!
With all the completed workshop activities sent back to us at DC, and all treated confidentially, we can begin the task of drawing all the output together with the other insight we’ve been gathering through a number of interviews, audits, and research.
The next step is to present the Insight Report of recommendations, challenges, and opportunities for the brand to the senior team at BIBA. Another virtual session, and perhaps another opportunity to think differently and innovate in how and what we present.