Discovery Vs. Hacking.


All brand planners have their own unique ways to come at strategy problems. Also known as marketing problems. Most activity falls to fieldwork and research.  The latter tends to be quantitative (data) while the former tends to be more behavioral — conducting interviews with consumers and influencers. Much of this work can be labelled discovery.

The word hacking has grown quite a bit over the last 10-15 years. Hacking is a computer coding reference to unauthorized access but has since evolved to mean “shortcutting” to solve a problem…a means by which people use binary lessons (decision points) to bypass long logic ladders to get to answers quicker.

I’ve done brand discovery digging deep, deep, deep over the course of months to get to the claim and proof array (aka the brand strategy).  I’ve also hacked my way to brand strategies in 8 hours. (Not including dream time, that’s not billable.)

Long form discovery is safer and allows for more science. Hacking is perhaps less safe but more gut-ful. More intuitive. 

Of course, some assignment are more complex that others.  Trail of Bits, say, was way more complicated than was Sweet Loren’s cookie dough. Teq, an educational development company, was multidimensional whereas Handcraft Manufacturing was straight forward.

Hacking and discovery are two valuable brand planning tools. They provide the inputs. Where the rubber really meets the road though, is in the outputs. A story for another time.