Brainstorming Techniques

Brainstorming is an exercise, usually in collaboration with others, designed to stir up the creative juices through the free flow of ideas. The key to a successful brainstorming session is openness.   Allow the participants to feed off of one another’s energy.  During the brainstorming phase, all ideas should be written down without comment.  There will be a time for debating, amending and rejecting suggestions.  However, that should not come until everyone has had a chance to articulate ideas without fear of rejection.

Features and benefits --  List all of the features of the product/service, i.e. the various attributes that define it.  Look beyond the obvious.  What are the features that distinguish the product/service from the competition?  Having done that, match consumer benefits with each feature.  Here’s where putting yourself in the mind of the customer pays off.  Something that on the surface seems quite trivial can make a critical difference in the consumer’s decision to act.
Shuffle the deck  --  Index cards can be a catalyst for creative thought.  List attributes, descriptive phrases and anything else that comes to mind about the product/service on separate cards.  Start mixing and matching the cards.  Look for interesting combinations.  You may be surprised to see how easy it is to deal up a winning hand.
Analogies and metaphors  --  They indicate a resemblance of form, process or relationships.  Through their use, you can see the product/service from a different perspective.  You ask, "If A is to B as C is to what?"  Although this may seem a very structured and logical approach to creative thinking, the results can be very poetic.
Verbs and adjectives --  Try to describe the product/service by listing only verbs and adjectives.  Verbs describe action.  Adjectives assign qualities.  Both can convey an indelible image.
Twists -- The opposite of originality is the cliché.  Familiarity breeds contempt.  Fads are fleeting.  Your message will not rise above the clutter if it takes people to where they have already been.  However, they do respond to twists, the sudden, unanticipated change that converts the familiar to the memorable.
Wade into the stream of consciousness -- This is a mental version of "connect-the-dots."  A continuous stream of word associations can spark one’s imagination.  Anything that comes to mind is relevant.  The more words you generate, the greater the chance of developing an idea with potential.
Imagery -- Describe the product/service in terms of visual images.  You can also use your other senses -- describing how it sounds, smells or feels.
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