Stop brainstorming ideas. Start asking questions.

At AC&M Group, we put research and insights at the core of all our creative.  One way we do this is by using a research technique for coming up with fresh ideas. It’s called Frame-Storming, which requires questioning things more than just thinking about them, and the results have been award worthy.

The idea here, developed by Stanford University professor Tina Seelig, is to frame a problem creatively and completely.

Whether a client wants to reach a specific segment, undergo a logo rebrand, or simply wants to sell more products, discovering the problem is as important -if not more important-  as solving it quickly.  This is where old-school brainstorming has a potential to fail. By not asking enough questions about the problem, traditional brainstorming lets useful insights go undiscovered.

Let’s take a look at how it works.AC&M Frame-Storm Session

Think of the process this way: You are brainstorming, but only asking questions. You will go for quantity and not repress any group participation. Have the group start asking questions and write them down one-by-one. It’s important not to start a new question until the previous one has been recorded. The original creators of the method suggest 50 questions but really, it’s about the quantity that permits the group to get all of their curiosities off their chests.

Group the questions by category according to your campaign needs, or to make it easier, group them by type:

  • What is? – Focus on facts.
  • What caused? – Get to the roots of the problem.
  • Why? Why Not? – What type of thinking will result in the best solution?
  • What if? Can we? – Challenge the status quo. What if I change this, do that, use them?

Our recent award-winning campaign for our client Bojangles’ is a prime example of Frame-Storming come to life. Bojangles’ wanted to connect with Hispanic customers in a way that was both culturally-relevant and memorable.

The problem? Our client needed to reach this segment. More than that, they needed to prove to the Hispanic community that Bojangles’ cared about them, their culture, and of course, their food preferences.

The result? TeleBovela: a 4-episode drama series, adding passion and suspense to the lives of Bojangles’ savory food items by featuring the products as cast members, written, filmed, edited and scored like a true Hispanic telenovela.

The first questions that will come to mind will almost always be simple. Like, can we be funny? What mediums can we use? Is Shakira in the budget for this? But Frame-Storming can help you reach the root of the problem in a way that no brainstorming method can. It challenges everything by putting a “why?” before it which keeps you and your team in check. By doing so it gives you a way to measure the quality of your ideas. Do they answer all the questions in a way that satisfies you? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.

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Edgardo Cartagena