Branding Strategy Insights

Transform your Business Through A 6-Step Design Thinking Process

Design thinking is a non-linear process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. It is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that has gained popularity over the years for its ability to help businesses find alternative solutions to complex challenges. It is a human-centered approach that involves understanding the needs of the user and designing solutions that meet those needs.

Because it is a user-centric approach it is important to find a deep understanding of the complex problems of the customers to go through the entire process fluently and create business success in the overwhelming business world.

Design thinking is not limited to designers but can be applied to various fields such as business, education, and healthcare, among others. This approach emphasizes creativity, collaboration, and iteration to create solutions that are effective and user-friendly.

The advantages of design thinking

The advantages of business model design thinking include a focus on the user, a creative and collaborative approach to problem-solving, agility, and empathy. These advantages can lead to better solutions that are tailored to the needs of users and that have a greater impact. These advantages are closely related to the 6 steps and give a good overview of the structured process.

User-centered approach

Design thinking focuses on understanding the needs and perspectives of users, which leads to solutions that are tailored to their needs. By putting the user at the center of the process, design thinking helps to create products and services that are more useful, intuitive, and engaging.

Creative problem-solving

Design thinking encourages a creative approach to problem-solving, which can lead to more innovative solutions. By exploring multiple ideas and prototypes, design thinkers are able to uncover new approaches and solutions that may not have been considered otherwise.

Collaborative approach

Design thinking is often done in interdisciplinary teams, which allows for diverse perspectives and expertise to be brought together. This collaborative approach can lead to better solutions and a more inclusive design thinking process.


Design thinking is a flexible and iterative process that can be adapted to changing circumstances. This agility allows for solutions to be refined and improved over time, and for a innovative solution to be explored as they arise.


Design thinking emphasizes empathy and understanding for users, which can lead to a deeper appreciation for their needs and challenges. This can result in solutions that are not only functional but also meaningful and impactful.

Design thinking process

The 6-step design thinking process

Harvard business school comes with a four-phase innovation framework. But we suggest using the 6-step approach. The 6-step design thinking process provides a framework for designers to follow when developing a solution-based approach.

1. Empathizing with the user is crucial to understanding their needs

The first step in design thinking is empathy, which involves understanding the users' needs, preferences, and pain points. By putting oneself in the user's shoes, designers can gain valuable insights into the user's experiences, emotions, and behaviors. Empathy can be achieved through various methods, such as user interviews, observations, and surveys.

By empathizing with the user, designers can gain a deeper understanding of their target audience, which can help guide the rest of the process. This design process ensures that the final product or solution is designed with the user's needs and desires in mind, resulting in a more effective and user-friendly outcome.

2. Defining the well-defined problem

The next step in the 6 phases of design thinking is defining the problem. This involves analyzing the data and insights gathered during the empathy stage to frame the problem statement in a way that can be addressed through ideation and prototyping.

Defining the problem requires designers to synthesize the information gathered and identify the core issues that need to be addressed. This stage is critical because a well-defined problem will guide the ideation process toward creating solutions that meet the user's needs.

In design thinking the designers may use various tools and techniques such as brainstorming, mind mapping, and affinity diagrams to refine the problem statement. Once the problem is well-defined, the team can move on to the ideation stage, the next design thinking phase, to generate possible solutions to the problem.

Understanding the needs in the first step the design thinking process, empathizing

3. Ideating potential solutions

The next step in design thinking is ideation, which involves generating a wide range of ideas and brainstorming with a diverse group of individuals to encourage creativity and innovation. In the third phase, designers can explore potential creative solutions and innovative ideas to the problem identified in the previous design thinking stage.

To ensure that the idea generation is effective, designers should approach the process with an open mind, embrace creativity, and involve people with different backgrounds and perspectives. This can help generate ideas that can be refined and synthesized later in the process. During the ideation, designers may use various techniques such as brainstorming, mind mapping, and SCAMPER to generate ideas and come to strategic innovation.

The goal of ideation is to generate as many ideas as possible without judgment or evaluation, allowing for wild and unconventional ideas to be explored. The next stage in the design thinking is prototyping.

4. Prototyping

The fourth step in the design thinking approach is prototyping, which involves creating a physical or digital representation of the solution, which can be tested and refined based on user feedback. The prototype stage helps designers to test and validate their ideas quickly and cheaply before investing in a fully developed product.

The prototype can range from a low-fidelity model made from paper and cardboard to a high-fidelity digital model with interactive features. The key is to create a prototype that is realistic enough to test and gather user feedback. Once the prototype is developed, it can be tested with real users to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require further refinement.

Based on user feedback, designers can make changes and refine the prototype until the solution meets the user's needs and expectations.

The goal of ideation is to generate as many ideas as possible

5. Testing the solution

The next stage in the design thinking is testing the solution. The focus is on turning the prototype into a viable and scalable solution. This involves considering the feasibility and viability of the solution, as well as any potential barriers to implementation. This also involves getting feedback from users to identify areas of improvement and to ensure that the solution meets their needs. Testing is critical as it allows designers to refine the solution before it is launched.

The testing phase can involve various methods such as user testing, surveys, and analytics. User testing involves observing how users interact with the solution and collecting feedback on their experience. Surveys can help to gather feedback from a large number of users, while analytics can provide insights into how users are interacting with the solution in real time.

Based on the feedback gathered, designers can make changes and refine the prototype until it meets the user's needs and expectations for the final product. Once the prototype is refined, it can be launched, and the design thinking process is complete. However, designers may continue to gather feedback and make improvements over time to ensure that the solution continues to meet the user's needs.

6. Reflecting an reiterating

In design thinking, designers should take the time to reflect on the innovation process and outcomes of the project, including what worked well and what could be improved. This reflection can help identify best practices for future projects and ensure that the design process continues to evolve and improve over time.

This may require going back to a prior phase to iterate and refine until you find a successful solution. Such an approach is recommended because design thinking is often a nonlinear, iterative process. Because it is a human-centered design thinking methodology it is important to create a solid understanding of human beings, this will help to solve problems and come to new insights. This phase requires collaboration and communication between different key stakeholders, including designers, developers, project managers, and end-users.

The reflecting phase is an important part of the design thinking process because it allows the design team to review and analyze the work that has been done so far, in order to identify what has worked well and what needs to be improved. This phase is all about taking a step back, examining the progress that has been made, and considering how to move forward.

During the reflecting phase, the design team will typically engage in activities such as:

  1. Reviewing feedback: The team will examine any feedback that has been collected from users, stakeholders, and other sources, and use it to inform their next steps.
  2. Conducting a retrospective: The team will hold a retrospective meeting, in which they discuss what has gone well and what could be improved in their process so far.
  3. Analyzing data: The team will review any data that has been collected, such as user research or analytics, to gain insights that can inform their design decisions.
  4. Synthesizing insights: The team will take all of the information they have gathered and synthesize it into actionable insights that can inform their design thinking decisions.

Once the reflecting phase is complete, the design team will move on to the iterating phase. In this phase, they will use the insights they have gained from reflecting to make changes and improvements to their design. This phase involves a lot of experimentation and prototyping, as the team tries out different solutions to see what works best for solving problems.

During the iterating phase, the design team will typically engage in activities such as:

  1. Rapid prototyping: The team will create multiple prototypes of their design, and test them with users to gather feedback.
  2. User testing: The team will conduct user testing sessions to gather feedback on their prototypes, and use this feedback to inform their next iteration.
  3. Making changes: The team will use the insights they have gained to make changes and improvements to their design and iterate on their prototypes until they have a solution that meets the needs of their users.
  4. Testing and refining: The team will continue to test and refine their design, using feedback from users to inform their next iteration.

During the final stage, the reflecting and iterating phases are critical parts of the design thinking process, as they allow the design team to continually improve their work and create solutions that truly meet the needs of their users.

PepsiCo hopes that its new design-led approach will help it to stand out in a crowded marketplace, both online and in retail settings.

PepsiCo is built around the design thinking process

PepsiCo's Chief Design Officer, Mauro Porcini, has overseen a significant shift in the company's approach to branding and innovation over the past three years. Porcini was brought in to help PepsiCo adapt to changing consumer habits and has championed the use of design to create consistent brand experiences and identify new product opportunities.

The company's new approach to design is focused on empathy, prototyping, and strategy, and has resulted in innovations such as the Pepsi Spire drinks fountain, which allows consumers to personalize their drinks with up to 500 combinations. PepsiCo hopes that its new design-led approach will help it to stand out in a crowded marketplace, both online and in retail settings.

Design thinking in digital marketing

By applying design thinking principles to your digital marketing strategy, you can develop more effective campaigns that resonate with your audience and drive business results.

  1. Empathize with your audience: In order to create effective digital marketing campaigns, it's important to understand your audience's needs and pain points. Use design thinking methods such as customer journey mapping and persona development to gain insights into your target audience's motivations, goals, and behaviors.
  2. Define the problem: Use your understanding of your audience to define the problem you are trying to solve. Identify the specific challenges your target audience faces and what they need from your brand.
  3. Ideate solutions: Use brainstorming techniques to generate a wide range of ideas for how you can address the problem you identified. Consider both traditional marketing channels and new digital marketing technologies and platforms.
  4. Prototype: Create a prototype of your marketing campaign or message. This can be a simple landing page, email, or social media post. Test your prototype with a small group of users to get feedback and refine your approach.
  5. Test: Launch your campaign and monitor its effectiveness. Use data to evaluate its impact on your target group. Test if your campaign does what you expected en if it reaches your goals.
  6. Reflect and iterate: Make adjustments as needed. Continuously iterate and improve your campaigns based on feedback and insights from your audience.


PepsiCo used design thinking to develop a new digital marketing campaign for its Gatorade brand. They started by conducting extensive research to understand their target audience's preferences and behaviors. Based on their research, they created a mobile app called "Gatorade Amplify" that allowed users to customize their own sports drinks based on their individual needs and preferences. They also used social media to promote the app and encourage user engagement. The campaign was a huge success, increasing engagement with the Gatorade brand by 150%.

PepsiCo used design thinking to develop a new digital marketing campaign for its Gatorade brand.


In conclusion, design thinking is an effective problem-solving approach that enables businesses to find innovative solutions to complex challenges. By following the 6-step design thinking process, businesses can break out of their routine and generate new ideas that meet the needs of their users.

Design thinking emphasizes empathy, creativity, collaboration, and iteration to create solutions that are effective, user-friendly, and marketable. By staying competitive in a rapidly changing market, businesses can drive growth and success. Therefore, businesses that embrace design thinking can gain a competitive advantage, differentiate themselves from competitors, and transform their business.

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