How to Make Big, Scary Problems Feel Approachable

Our innovation team's top 5 tips for getting better results faster.

No one likes feeling tangled up in the grip of an overwhelming problem. It makes the journey to solving feel daunting and overcomplicated, rather than what it should be—exciting. Finding answers that work is fun, and it should feel like it. That’s what our innovation team believes, at least. 

Here are 5 tips we use to make those monster-sized problems feel approachable so that you can get to the good stuff with fewer headaches and greater success.

Define the problem (everybody, now!).

Around here, we live by the words: “a problem well-defined is a problem half solved.” Understanding your obstacles on a deep and holistic level will make the path to overcoming them a hundred times clearer. Clients often come to us with very specific problems to solve. But sometimes we find that they have a bigger, more pressing problem to address that could benefit them even more—a focused and actionable ask that we can approach with confidence at low risk.

For example, we recently teamed up with AI brand to create a brand identity that can grow and evolve with their company. From the start, the team knew they wanted to break the mold of the typical software brand reputation: boring, impersonal, and hyper-technical. They believed if the world only knew how effective their product was, they wouldn’t seem so boring, after all.

Our finding? No matter how great the product, the story you tell matters. Rather than focusing on telling a technical story, the bigger “problem” was how to help a software brand make people feel important. From that specific human insight, the creative concept gained the traction and clear direction the team needed to pull off an identity that felt true to their kore.

Get real about what you're good at.

Focusing on further developing your strengths to serve your goals rather than fixing your weaknesses will help you hone in on the steps you’re best equipped to take (hint: these are the tools that are most likely to take you the furthest).

When we worked with Mars Petcare to help them launch DTC brand Puppo, we honed in on what unique assets a company of their size and industry position has that could set them apart. Things like having an established base of brand loyalists and an existing (and robust) operations network gave us areas of strength to lean into. Building upon what they were already good at rather than trying to fix weaker areas allowed us to carve out a clear path toward innovation that made sense.

Seek inspiration outside of your industry.

Our diverse experience enables us to translate and apply innovation insights across industries, and our clients' expertise on the ins and outs of their businesses' strengths helps direct us to the most logical routes and resources. That's the stuff of great partnerships. Being open to ideas and insights from outside voices will yield unconventional solutions that might not otherwise come up.

And we know that valuable learnings can come from anywhere, so we never keep our insights in a silo. For example, one of the findings of our innovation process with Mars Petcare revealed that help-based messaging drives revenue—and that doesn’t just need to be applicable to dog food brands. Exploring the learnings of other industries can provide the fresh perspective you need to power through sticky situations.

Be intentional always.

There are so many different types of experiments that could be used to find a possible solution to your problem—being able to point your reasoning for using the one you did back to a specific question will be hugely beneficial to making your path feel more actionable. Staying clear on the “why” of every decision you make keeps your team aligned, your next steps clear, and the end zone at the forefront.

We prioritize the learnings found in experimentation by setting aside a portion of our project budgets to try new things. From influencer marketing to out-of-the-box media buys and every rabbit hole in between, experimentation tells us what works and why, making it an essential ingredient to our innovation recipe.

Write in (colored) pencil rather than pen.

All great ideas had to be tested to know they were great—they weren't simply written in permanent ink as successes from the get-go. And leaning into the “fail forward” mentality is fun. Allow yourself to add some color to your problem-solving—innovation isn’t black-and-white. You try new things, some fail, and you always learn something that leads you toward the right answer.

And knowing how to prototype them to test their potential is huge (spoiler: prototypes can take many different forms). A prototype might look like a chat feature, an app or a landing page...or pretty much anything else under the sun. Luckily, figuring that out is something we can help you with.

A few cool things we've done

Strategic Consulting

Mars Petcare

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Brand Building

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

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Integrated Campaigns


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