“If we had asked the public what they want, they would have asked for ‘faster horses.'”

—Henry Ford

Picked up a new book over the weekend, The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier, which offers some really great insight into bridging the gap between business strategy and design. Thought I’d share one takeaway that was a bit of an “aha” moment for me…

One of the key disciplines he defines, validation, suggests that some level of market research can get your company/product “out of first gear and onto the highway.” The above quote from Henry Ford illuminates the aversion to research that predominates some of the worlds most innovative companies. And, it’s pretty well understood that quantitative research is antithetical to creativity. Marty doesn’t disagree that the initial stages of innovation and creativity can, for the most part, ignore anything other than the creative spirit; Creativity is subjective only until it reaches the marketplace. Then, it’s measurable. So, applying some level of research to your creative “thing” before it hits the marketplace is crucial for success.

To test a concept, Marty suggests creating 2-3 prototypes and conduct one-on-one interviews with 10 members of the real audience and ask questions related to understanding (not liking). Questions like, “which one is most valuable to you?” Or, “if company X made this promise, would that make sense?” And then, ask why. He argues that these small tests are just as valuable as exhaustive, 6-figure study.