Think back to your science fair days. You and your classmates had to document your experiments on those classic gatefold poster boards. You had to display the problem, state your hypothesis, dictate your procedure, state your findings, and then finally—as if it wasn’t enough already—state your conclusion on whether or not your hypothesis was right. That was a ton of work, especially if the experiment wasn’t successful!

If you’re a start-up owner/employee, and if you’re reading this right now, I imagine you either really loved doing those, or you hated them with a passion (just like yours truly). Little did we know we’d be taking this process into adulthood, only this time, it’s for the company that’s paying our bills. Here at known.creative, when we’re doing client work, we’re in a constant process of thinking by making things, and then tweaking them based on feedback; keeping all of our branding relevant to the people who matter: the end customer. For start-ups these days, it’s pretty much the same thing.

We call it “the creative process”.

I define the creative process as the methodological intersection of art and science to create meaningful and functional contexts—through iteration and inquiry—to better influence present circumstances and solve problems.

The best kinds of companies—large and small—end up adopting this process to better understand their target audience and their needs so they can eventually build the proper solution for them. This is the antithesis of creating stuff on the fly based on assumptions. In fact, by assuming things that are most definitely not backed by hard data, you turn a blind eye to what your customers are looking for. Simply put, the creative process allows us to break through the barriers of our own assumptions by unearthing new questions and possibilities through making.

…Unless of course, you’re a mind reader. If you are, please email us as we’d like to hire you.

So how can you begin to apply this to your start-up or small business? Well it’s just like doing a science fair project. Whether you’re creating a new, ground-breaking product, or revisiting the infrastructure of your company, look back to the creative process:

  1. Research The Problem: What’s wrong? Do your customers actually suffer from this problem, or do you just think they do? How bad is it? Who is it affecting? What are their stories?
  2. Narrow Down Your “Hypothesis”: This can be re-interpreted to be the “pitch”. Based on your research, what is your product going to do to solve the problem? Or, how will your company solve the problem?
  3. Process: Implement your processes or begin designing based on research, prototyping (i.e. wireframes, sketches). Conduct user testing or focus groups as needed (please actually conduct them).
  4. Results: How well did the product work? How was it received by users/focus group? What can be improved? Go back to designing and repeat.
  5. Conclusion: Based on the results, either continue to modify or scrap it and start over.

This creative process will help keep you in line with your company’s goals and objectives. As businesses of all sizes adopt this way of thinking, have faith that it will help you get to the next step in your start-up’s development. At least now, unlike a science fair, you may reap more reward than just first place.

Chris Santoro graduated from Massart in 2012 on a mission: to start a kickass design agency and make awesome brands even more awesome. Fast forward to 2017, and alongside three longtime friends, he's helped lead the visual direction and execution of beautifully designed and dynamic brands for tech start-ups and small businesses alike. With clients in Northeastern University, VELCRO, and Saucony, alongside various Boston agencies, he works fast and efficiently to help his clients meet their goals.