Here at KISS this month we’ve got a few ideas floating around that just won’t go away, and this is one of them.

Man riding a bike with a face mask

At the recent TEDx Cambridge University event, opera singer-turned-physicist, Carl Gombrich emphasised ‘identifying your problem’, as he talked about the ground-breaking Arts and Sciences BASc degree programme he leads at University College London. Here he encourages students and staff to break out of studying a field, or a subject, and focus instead on a practical problem.

One example: sadly, it’s becoming clear that people in many large cities should wear pollution masks at times. London had breached its 2017 annual air pollution limit just five days into the new year.

Few of us would dispute that urban pollution is often a problem. According to King’s College London, NO2 pollution, which is produced largely by diesel vehicles, causes an estimated 5,900 early deaths every year in London alone and London’s Putney High Street exceeded its hourly limit 1,200 times in 2016. Inhabitants of some large cities, especially in Asia, wear pollution masks on bad air-quality days and the case for more city-dwellers to do so is pretty clear, especially if you’re running or cycling. So why don’t more of us wear masks?

For potential mask-buyers the main problem – the sales objection we hear - might be ‘I’m OK without it’, but feedback shows that the unstated objection is ‘I think I look odd’.

One of Carl’s recent graduates joined his course because her passions included chemistry, industrial design and fine art, and not many courses were designed for that. Taking the ‘problem’ approach to heart, for her final project she was inspired to use all of her skill sets to design and make a city pollution mask that not only worked efficiently but was beautiful to look at and so, she hopes, desirable to wear.

London cyclists may be taking to them but the fact is many of us feel odd or ugly wearing today’s designs. So solving all the problems with a mask that not only works but doesn’t make you feel like a Doctor Who extra should mean they sell well, stimulating, then owning, a potentially significant market.

Reduce my pain
The ‘find your problem’ approach is a good reminder about the power of ‘seeing the wood for the trees’ and always looking at the world from the customer’s viewpoint: making sure you step back and ask yourself what your prospects’ real problems are, where their pain is and framing both problem and solution in their terms, because of course ‘solving my problems’ and ‘reducing my pain’ are key purchase motivators.
Humans are by nature problem-solvers, so taking a ‘pain point’ approach may give your team renewed focus, liberate new thinking and should be extremely positive.

Save time and get better results
With our clients, we often work to develop what your brand stands for. Our brand articulation process includes an early discussion on target audiences, the pains they face in relation to the client’s market sector and the problems their product might solve (the gains).

This initial strategic work can save a lot of time and drive better results later: for example, the process we use draws out one or two ‘core truths’ about the product which we’re all sure of, often related to relieving pain or solving a known problem in a better way. This provides an excellent foundation for short and inspiring creative briefs, which means quicker turnarounds and strong, on-brief creative ideas.

We have completed brand articulation workshops across many different market sectors from technology to life sciences and consumer goods with start-ups and multinational organisations. Our clients tell us that the brand articulation process helps them to focus on where their real opportunities lie and provides the whole organisation with a blueprint for the future.

KISS recently sponsored TEDx Cambridge University.