Evolving the Graphic Creation & Evaluation Process

How does a leading winter sports brand develop internal systems to improve its connection with an increasingly global audience?

That’s the position French sports equipment manufacturer Salomon found themselves in, particularly in the Alpine category. Despite efforts to engage stakeholders and mine as much relevant data as possible, a chasm between the brand and it’s North American audience continued to grow resulting in lagging sales in the region.

Our initial audit of Salomon’s internal design processes revealed a number of fundamental issues. Of particular concern were the disparate cultural viewpoints and often contrary philosophies held between internal stakeholders at the design level and external stakeholders at the retail level, whose own feedback loops were understandably tied to last year’s trends and sales performance. How do you facilitate a connection between these two cultural islands? How do you formalize evaluation of the corresponding data in a way that is reconciled with a seasonal design cycle?

Answers to these questions began revealing themselves in the form of foundational insights mined throughout the Jacknife strategic process: narrowly define stakeholders (designers, management, consumers, retailers) and their respective influence on the creative process; establish clear objectives encouraging ownership and leadership at all levels; map out the process and how it resolves itself; identify at which points during the cycle stakeholder feedback from around the globe yields the best results; and incorporate a robust validation system that ensures the next design cycle is even smarter.

Salomon’s process was stripped down and rebuilt incorporating strong validation initiatives and clear objectives encouraging ownership and leadership at all levels. Far from being limited to success in North America, Jacknife provided a roadmap for successful creative iteration regardless of the greater regional context.

The resulting work product was a 50 page Process Guide that outlined a newly conceived timeline for Salomon’s internal design cycle as well as a step-by-step map establishing internal benchmarks and individual responsibilities.