Rethinking brand building workshops for the future

Written by 
Sidra Butt
April 8, 2021

In my work leading strategy at FCB Global, I’m often trying to find ways to make my clients feel truly engaged and present during a brainstorming session. Pre-pandemic, there were a variety of ways I could do this utilizing everything from music and the seating arrangement of the meeting space, to the use of colorful brand illustrations throughout the room. But then in 2020 the room went away. However my clients' brands, in particular my work with paper and personal product care company Kimberly-Clark, were in high-demand and in need of more brainstorming and product planning than ever before.

What I needed was a way to bring the virtual brainstorming space to life. I needed to get stakeholders and leaders involved in the brand purpose exercises in the same way they would have had we set aside a few days to work together at an in-person workshop. I also needed a way to properly create product test designs that could then be iterated and tested in realtime whilst keeping everyone aware of the timeline. 

For all of these things and more, I found my answer with MURAL. 

Brand Purpose Sessions

At FCB Global, we put an emphasis on brand purpose workshops to help our clients learn and understand their brand. We believe that the biggest ego in the room should be the brand itself, not a specific leader in the room. From there, we work to elicit behaviors centered around getting customers to care about their brand through carefully crafted design. 

When it was time for one of Kimberly-Clark’s global brands to gather around brand purpose and positioning for the future, I knew a co-facilitated session in a mural would allow us to bring the room to life in a way other collaboration tools couldn’t. In fact, we specifically kept everyone off of mute (I know an otherwise big no-no in today’s Zoom world!), but it really made the workshop and conversations seem as impromptu as they would have had we all been sitting side by side.  

Our standard Brand Bedrock session is a multi-day workshop with a mix of client and agency participants that feature stimulating content modules to inspire and spark strategic discussion. In order to mimic our in-person workshops, we used a customized version of the Brainstorm template to map out different teams who would move together through the different facilitated modules throughout the two days. 

Our Brand Bedrock Sessions are a staple of our client work and we plan on continuing to leverage MURAL for these even when we return to the office.

As each member went through each session, they would have the opportunity to write on a sticky (color-coded for each individual person) their inspirations, ideas and thoughts around what they were experiencing onto the mural.

At the end of the two days, we had a mural canvas that reflected what our previous sticky boards would have looked like, however this one did much, much more. The canvas allowed us to see the broader context of the discussions, the team agreements and consensus and it sparked a way of thinking that we wouldn’t otherwise have had. We could much more quickly highlight themes and strategic narratives, and vote on them as a group right from within the canvas. 

After our workshop I was approached by members of the client team who were so delighted by how well things had gone. They admitted they had level-set their expectations originally due to the virtual nature of the workshop, but had been blown away by how much more we got done, as well as how engaged everyone had remained because of the creative and collaborative nature of MURAL.  

The importance of preparation

MURAL’s ability to help us make the workshop and project management process come to life wouldn’t have worked as well without some simple but imperative pre-planning. 

Most of our client stakeholders at had minimal to no experience with MURAL. This could have put an enormous strain on our ability to encourage engagement, regardless of my facilitation skills

We gave the members advanced notification that we would be working within a mural. We sent over 15-minute training videos (although I’m not certain if they were watched). What really worked for us was doing a quick 15-minute training session for everyone on MURAL canvas basics at the start of the workshops. We kept it light and fun and the incredibly intuitive design of the software meant the barrier to entry was low. It is a detail that might otherwise go overlooked but I cannot overstate how much a little pre-planning works to set others up for success. 

🚀 Pro-tip: Set your next meeting up for success with our pre-meeting checklist.

The future of collaboration at FCB

I don’t know when our strategy and brand purpose workshops will be done in person once again. But I am so impressed by how much we’ve been able to get done over the last year using MURAL, most specifically for our bedrock workshops and brainstorming work. I anticipate that regardless of what our set-up looks like in a year: all remote, partially or entirely face-to-face, we’ll be using MURAL to help keep us moving, thinking, and engaged around the idea of brand purpose and positioning.

About the authors

About the authors

Sidra Butt

Sidra Butt

Sid is a data and research-driven brand strategist with 8 years of experience across Asia and America. Her superpowers are empathy, collaboration, and leadership.

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