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Brainstorm Technique #1 – Magazine Pull





Brainstorm Technique: Magazine Pull
Sometimes the easiest first step in defining who you are is defining who you aren’t. In this exercise, your brainstorm group will use magazines as inspiration to answer two simple questions. First, who are we? Second, who are we NOT? Using images of people, products and places from a variety of magazines, create a visual representation of what your product, organization or group aspires to be and NOT to be. The facilitator provides the group with enough magazines and scissors to go around. One posterboard is identified as “IS” and one posterboard is identified as “IS NOT.” Participants pull images and words from their magazines that answer those two simple questions.

Ideal Activity For:
Branding identity , Brand voice, Defining a consumer target

Brainstorm Tools:
4-6 20” x 30” (or larger) posterboards
2-3 magazines per person
easel pad
permanent markers
# of Participants:
1 – 15+

How To Brainstorm With A Magazine Pull:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather needed supplies and book a conference room (if needed)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 20-30 minutes)

  1. Distribute the magazines and scissors to the brainstorm participants
  2. Invite participants to flip through the magazines they’ve been given and cut out images, words or anything else they feel moves the group closer to or further away from accomplishing the mission of the brainstorm
  3. Demonstrate the activity by finding an image or phrase in a magazine and posting it to the appropriate board
  4. Announce why the item you chose does or does not represent the mission you’re trying to accomplish and invite each participant to do the same for items they select
  5. Capture keywords that participants are using to describe the item they cut out on an easel pad

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10 minutes)

  1. Turn the groups attention to the easel pad filled with keywords from Part 1
  2. Ask each member of the group to mark the 5 words or phrases from the list that they think best accomplishes the mission of the brainstorm
  3. Capture the top vote getting “IS” and “IS NOT” keywords on a new easel pad
  4. Use this list of keywords as thought starters for the Part 3

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 20-30 minutes)

  1. Ask the group to further explore the “IS” keywords identified in Part 2
  2. Choose a word from the list and ask the group to answer a few simple questions
    • Is the characteristic unique to us?
    • Do the people we’re speaking to recognize this as one of our characteristics?
    • What would we look like if this was true in every aspect of our business?
    • How do we maximize the value of this characteristic?
  3. Perform this exercise for each of the keywords
  4. Record all the ideas generated on a new easel pad
  5. As a group select the favorite ideas that closely allign aim, challenges and opportunities laid out in your BrainBrief
    • Collect ideas that can be implemented now on one page
    • Collect ideas that will require further effort, research or brainstorming on another list


  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the boards and notes for reference at a later date.

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