Innovation and Creativity week

with Jenny Kitchen from Yoyo Design

When did you found Yoyo and what inspired you to create the company?

Yoyo was already in existence when I joined. My business partner Gregg, a Creative Director, had founded it a few years beforehand and I came on board to bring expertise in marketing and business. This allowed us (and our other two business partners at the time) to build something exciting, something of value.

I was inspired by my desire and ambition to create a better agency, one that put the team, our clients and creativity at the centre.

What are the key aims of Yoyo?

We’ve got three major aims:

  • To build experiences that create impact in the world

We want to make a difference with what we create; we’re not interested in templated solutions or tried and tested methods. In a world where everyone is always on, where most brands are in highly competitive spaces and brand loyalty is at an all-time low, creativity and unique brand experiences are the way to differentiate. We focus on quality, on innovation and on audience engagement.

  • To build a company which places people and the planet alongside profit

This year, we are becoming a B Corporation, which is a certification process to recognise the companies across the world who are building businesses that benefit society, as well as the environment. It’s a lengthy process, looking at every aspect: our culture, our product, our supply chain, our clients, our community work and how we govern the business. We believe that businesses should be a force for good, and benefit everyone, not just a few.

  • To double the size of the business

We have big ambitions to grow the business in every aspect. This will allow us to achieve our dreams, and help us to succeed with the first two aims.

Where did the name Yoyo come from?

We wanted to play with passion and creativity, creating something young and exciting for our clients. Yoyo was a classic, a simple and traditional toy that represented this ethos and had the same meaning in any language. And the URL was available!

What is your most creative and innovative piece of work?

We’ve been working with the University of Southampton for the last few years on a campaign to reignite conversations with their alumni, and rebuild some of those connections, which over the years had been lost.

Music was at the centre of the campaign; asking alumni to think of the tracks that took them back to their university days. Tying the campaign up with Spotify, allowed the audience to add their tracks, develop playlists and join the conversations on social.

The campaign gave the University a central theme to own and allowed it to have a new reason to connect with alumni, staff and students, who all rallied around the idea and the creative.

It was recognised by CASE, an international body for the Education sector, and it was awarded Gold in their Circle of Excellence, in both strategic communications and multimedia campaigns. This gained huge recognition across the sector, but more importantly for us, for our close friends in the Alumni Relations team at the University. Our joint teams worked so hard on this project together, so I love the fact it was such a huge success.

How do you brainstorm ideas to find the most innovative designs?

The one thing I’ve learned is that free flowing conversations about innovation and creativity never work. We all use different terminology and have different connotations, and it turns out most of us aren’t very good at talking abstractly about ideas.

So the best thing to do is to have something visual to dissect. This allows you to talk about what you like and don’t like about something, and others can see what you see. There are still challenges but there are less.

The other trick is having structured sessions to tease out ideas – this is where post-it notes come into play. The key is to plan in detail in advance and have a nominated facilitator on the day. This can be really simple in structure. Different headings can be put on the wall, and you go around the room asking people to put up their ideas under each section. And then as a group, you can decide which ideas have more merit. A point system works well, but make sure you have group agreement on how you are judging an idea and on what criteria.

It’s always good to have moments of quiet time, to let people think and reflect during the brainstorming sessions. This is important for everyone, but crucial for more introverted characters that are less comfortable shouting their ideas out. If you have a free-for-all, you can guarantee that you won’t hear from some people, and this is a real shame, as some of the most innovative ideas across the agency have come from the quietest people.

Over the years, we have built up a number of exercises which we use in workshops. These involve stickers, diagrams, toggles and scoring systems. All are designed to help people express themselves. This allows us to extract ideas and insight, which can be used to create the most innovative designs.

The 15th April marks the birth of Leonardo Da Vinci, what is your favourite da Vinci painting?

Vitruvian Man – I like the blend of science and art together.

This is the reality of commercial creativity and innovation. Creativity is attained through a mix of research, insight, strategy and information but many forget the ‘art’ part. That’s where the magic lies, the beauty, the spark, the thing that makes it special. It’s what sets it apart from the rest. And sadly, this is what is missing from a lot of content on the web.

With the constant developments in technology where do you see Yoyo in 5 years?

Our agency focuses on developing impactful experiences between a brand and its audience. We care more about the people and the connection, rather than the technology, so in effect I don’t see Yoyo changing that much in the next 5 years. This will still be our focus.

But of course, the means to develop these experiences will change. Over the last few years, we’ve been working with virtual and augmented reality to create audience engagement at events and conferences. We’ve developed Alexa skills for businesses to offer to their customers. And we’ve used creativity and the latest technologies to build world-class websites.

And every year, the technology gets better and better. I’m excited to see what it will be like in 2025.


Yoyo design:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.