What is the Immersion and Audit Process?
Immersion is the first phase of the Seedhouse process – whether for a brand identity (e.g. naming, logo design, etc..) or a package design project. This is the phase where we, as a team, try to learn your business as well as you. We layer our observations to try to paint a fuller picture of your brand. The audit process looks at: the competitive set, the target consumer, other brands your consumer might be shopping, and any retail or channel dynamics at play. This situational awareness of your brand allows us to learn a lot quickly.
Why do we start with an audit?
We attempt to bring as much objectivity to the design process as possible. To do that, we have to baseline what is happening in the category or particular segment of business. Simply, we want to know what the competition is doing.
To perform a competitive audit, we send out the team to as many stores, online outlets, etc., as we possibly can. Once there, we take an obnoxious amount of pictures and screen captures. Seriously, if you randomly took any Seedhouse-er’s phone right now, over half our pictures would be grocery store aisles. (The other half would be our pets and kids.) What we are looking for are trends: both in the way brands are selling themselves visually and descriptively. We look for visual trends in: color palettes, shapes, hierarchy of information, illustration vs. photography, symbols, substrates, materials, # of facings, shelf placement, planograms. Regarding language, we look for: messaging phrasing, taglines, naming conventions, nomenclature, claims. Sometimes we even head to unconventional retail outlets to see if anything pops and what we can learn – like the fireworks store!
When we have a clear idea of the visual and language trends, we look for the white space or opportunity. At this point, we’re trying to spot where our target customer might not have their needs met. The team is also assessing where messages or brands aren’t connecting with the target.
What does the rest of the discovery phase look like?
This part of immersion varies. We can conduct interviews of key stakeholders and customers. We read as much research as you have already conducted and are willing to share. Pre-design research (qualitative and/or quantitative) can also play an important role here. We have facilitated consensus workshops. These sessions are effective at bringing client teams together and get them working in alignment towards a new brand expression.
Often, we are also looking to define the target customer. To define the target, we pull together a profile by combining client information, our instincts, and details from everything else gathered. We dive deeper into what’s influencing consumers and their psychographics to better understand the actual buying process. Creating a customer journey map often yields key insights as well. Sometimes simply creating a visual diagram of all the brand’s products or services can reveal opportunities or force rationalizations.
All of this work is about learning where the brand is now, what the target customer is all about and how we might find a compelling and authentic way to emotionally connect with the humans you aim to reach.