How Speed Can Make You More Strategic

It used to be the case that some of the best design, branding and web work took a year or two to develop. This allowed companies to dive deep into research, interviews and surveys which would result in a carefully crafted strategy document that preceded the development of a complete visual system or brand architecture.

Cut to today’s environment where communication cycles take place at light speed and organizations are moving faster than ever. The net effect? Many clients hire agencies to complete brand and design work quickly with little or no strategy at all, in the vain belief that good design work will get done in that elusive “phase two” stage.

While the emphasis on speed is understandable – excessive planning can mean a competitor beats you to market – its roots lie in the mistaken assumption that speed and strategy are mutually exclusive.

In reality, as we have found at Kluge, speed – rather than being a barrier to strategy – can actually help define and expedite strategy, provided it is employed properly. When it is applied properly, speed forces companies to have clear goals, prototype early and often and align on the visual direction more quickly.

By designing quickly, you can make ideas more concrete, which in turn helps align teams faster. Bearing that in mind, here are some guidelines for using speed to be more strategic:

  • Have one clear goal: don’t try to solve too many things at once. You can’t have speed and volume at the same time, but you can design very well and very quickly for one focused idea.
  • Don’t be afraid to prototype: whether it’s a sketch or a wireframe, don’t be afraid to visualize an incomplete idea and share them with the rest of the team. This gets everyone on the same page more quickly.
  • Solve one problem at a time: whether you are trying to solve the user experience, resolve a brand identity problem or a tackle a messaging problem the idea is the same: Focus on one main problem at a time, leave the rest for future iterations.
  • Speed doesn’t mean you bypass the research: while you are building, make sure you keep researching your market, understanding your customers and interviewing the users. Speed and research are also not mutually exclusive.

At the end of the day, you can move fast and be strategic, as long as you are focused on your goals, objectives and what you are solving for.

This allows you to iterate your way to a fully robust solution instead of having to start all over again once you get to “phase two.”

So don’t be afraid to design for speed, just be clear and focused. Iteration and prototyping are powerful strategic tools that allow you to accomplish large objectives more efficiently than in the past.