Staying immersed: Evolving our approach to insight and research

Staying immersed: How we’re evolving our approach to insight and research

September 2021. Author: Oliver Bingham

  • Insight
Cubic - Staying Immersed

Getting to the heart of a brand is key to making it more effective. And to do that, we need to apply some empathy. Only by understanding what makes a brand tick, going out of our comfort zone to think differently and having conversations that provoke us will we begin to form true and meaningful stories for brands to tell.

But the way we’re used to exploring has changed – it now has more limits. When we were confined to our homes we were forced to rediscover how to investigate, analyse and immerse ourselves in brands. We had to develop new techniques, ideas and processes that had the potential to lead us in the right direction, without relying on face-to-face conversations.

Because of this, we’ve naturally adapted how we immerse ourselves in the brands we work with. So we’re sharing four key learnings that allowed us to push through limitations and out the other side – all of which we’re continuing to use in our ongoing strategy and design work.

Don’t look straight for the answer

In its simplest form, immersing yourself in a brand is about asking the right questions. But there’s no point in looking for answers to questions you haven’t asked yet.

The internet is a playground for brand strategists and designers. It’s often the go-to source for inspiration and ideas – a plethora of statistics, data points and design systems on tap. But it’s also the easiest place in the world to get side tracked, or even worse, ahead of yourself.

We’ve found that being more open-minded about online research is key, and that starts with thinking of new and different parameters in what to search and look out for. It might mean exploring articles on workplace culture to get inspiration for a furniture brand. It could involve listening to a podcast on psychology to help you develop ideas for a brand-led recruitment campaign. Or even scrolling through Mumsnet to gather insight for a skincare brand.

In order to figure out what we’re looking for – and what questions we need to ask – we must first search in new places and explore different avenues of insight.

Use language to your advantage

From articles, to reports, to adverts, to song lyrics – words are all around us. Essential for brand building, the words that we read or hear and the unique voices that project them can have a profound impact on immersion.

Different languages when translated can offer an entirely different perspective and association. Poetry can open up our hearts as well as our minds. Even going over old project notes and scribbles can trigger ideas. The more eclectic the range of voices and perspectives, the better.

By exposing our eyes and ears to something a little different – a range of writing styles, thoughts and opinions all structured in unique ways – we’ve found inspiration easier to come by. Not to mention the new styles of writing and vocabulary we’ve learned along the way.

Ask around

You can’t put a price on an opinion. Even if it’s something you wholeheartedly disagree with, it can help you develop your own understanding and ideas – as well as strengthen and structure your own point of view.

Getting a perspective from anyone is useful. We’ve called up cousins, facetimed friends and even texted our personal trainers just to hear their thoughts on something. If it’s remotely related to a topic they’re interested in, they’re always happy to give an opinion.

It’s easy for us in branding to get caught up in our own way of doing things – our own processes and project bubbles – especially if they’ve worked well for us in the past. But getting opinions from people far away from our world is often a good thing.

Clients come to us to hear an outsider’s perspective on their brand or a particular challenge they’re facing, but sometimes we can use one ourselves.

Make immersion a habit

We can’t always rely on the here and now. Sometimes, a memory of something we’ve already seen or uncovered can spark a new avenue of thought.

For us, immersion has become more of a state of mind or a practice than a deliverable. We’ve encouraged ourselves to continue to rediscover newness wherever possible, pushing everyday for our work to not be defined by the barriers we face and to do what we can to overcome them.

We set ourselves up to constantly encourage each other to uncover new things and different experiences – whether that’s reading a new book a week, taking up a new hobby, sending round an interesting article we’ve read over lunch or sharing a WhatsApp a snippet of conversation we overheard on the bus (relevant to a client project of course…).

Each of us are keeping our eyes peeled and our ears pricked. We bookmark, archive and share what we see or hear of interest to come back to it later. In short, we want it to become a habit that benefits ourselves as well as our clients – not just something we do as part of our process.

We believe the only way to understand something is to immerse yourself in it. Only then will we be asking ourselves the right questions – and uncovering answers that have the potential to change the brands we work with for the better.


Want to know more about our approach to research? We’d gladly have a chat.

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