A mind map is a simple diagram used to organize ideas logically using keywords, images and color-coding. According to Psychology Today, multiple studies have found mind mapping improves the brain’s ability to comprehend, synthesize, recall and generate ideas quickly. The technique is based on radiant thinking, and was introduced in the 1960s with The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan, a respected psychologist and memory expert.
Today, visual mapping software is used by millions of people as a productivity and organizational tool, and the paper and pen method is still a popular technique for research and marketing professionals to organize ideas, solve problems and develop strategies.
Bringing marketing and research teams together to create a mind map is not only a fun and creative experience, it creates an opportunity to discuss the consumer journey, and explore solutions based on the broader market landscape and your consumers’ actual behavior and decision-making process.
The mind mapping process makes complex issues easier to understand. The process quickly organizes thoughts during brainstorms, and works as a catalyst to generate more ideas.
Focus on the outcome: Define one goal or purpose for the mind mapping exercise and agree on four to seven related topics to be the primary focus of the brainstorm session.
Invite the right people to the party: Bring together a multi-disciplinary group to gain insights and perspectives from subject matter experts for each of the main topics.
Branch out and explore: Document two to five main ideas to support each main topic, and branch out to explore related strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats (SWOT).
Keep it Simple: Use just one word, doodle or image to document each idea to make it easy to see themes and patterns as they emerge. Express yourself in whatever way works for you, just avoid writing phrases or sentences.
Encourage free association, and organize ideas right away: Ideas can flow freely and do not occur in any particular order. Just use one color for each primary topic, use lines to connect all related ideas, and color-code all ideas related to each primary topic.
Step 1: Determine the Purpose: At the center of the page, draw a doodle or use an image depicting the subject or the goal of your mind map.
Step 2: Identify four to seven main topics to map: Draw four to seven thick, curved lines extending from your illustration at the center of the page, radiating outward toward the edges. On each line write one main topic (try to use just one word). Color each branch a different color, and use this color code for all related ideas.
Step 3: Branch out and explore related ideas: Only use one word, doodle or image to record ideas. Inspire free association and organize ideas using lines and color coding linked to the main topics to:
Sub Topics: Draw curved lines extending from each branch to note sub-topics for each main idea. Aim for two to five topics that are essential to achieve your goal.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities or Threats (SWOT): Draw lines extending from sub topics and use one word or image to document related ideas.
No two brands are alike, and there are no cookie cutter solutions for real world challenges. Using tools like mind mapping in combination with qualitative and quantitative research methods can deliver actionable marketing insights, and provides businesses the data they need to make intelligent marketing decisions.
Want to try it out? Download a complimentary blank mind map below.
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