Distributed teams have a host of pros: flexibility, low overhead, and a focus on meaningful online engagement. But with all the positives, coordinating collaborative, company-wide changes can take more work and planning, as colleagues aren’t in the same physical space. Our friends at Miro recently addressed these challenges head on and aligned their distributed team around a company-wide rebrand through a 3-hour remote brand sprint.
What is Miro? Miro (previously RealtimeBoard) is a visual collaboration platform for cross-functional team collaboration. Read further as Miro’s Chief Marketing Officer, Barbra Gago, shares how the team ran a successful remote brand sprint using this five-step approach.
Chief Marketing Officer at Miro
We recently rebranded RealtimeBoard as Miro and debuted our new branding, inspired by the Spanish painter Joan Miró. If you’ve ever been a part of a rebrand, you knows that it’s not easy. You need to be thoughtful from the start. And in our case, we also needed to move very quickly to meet an ambitious deadline. And finally, we were making all of these decisions with a distributed team!
To put some structure around this process, we decided to run Google’s 3-hour brand sprint. The sprint consists of six exercises that help leaders quickly align leaders around a vision for their brand. By the end of three hours, everyone should be clear about three elements of your company’s purpose: “why,” “how,” and “what.”
In this way, something that’s fairly abstract – a company’s brand – becomes more concrete. And once everyone’s speaking a common language, it’s much easier to make decisions about visuals, voice, and identity. Here are some of my tips for running the 3-hour brand sprint remotely:
Step 1: Create frameworks in advance
I’ve discovered that when running workshops and sprints with a distributed team, it’s really important to do any prep work ahead of time. Since the team would be doing activities on posters and whiteboards, I built a board in Miro specifically for the brand sprint and created the frames and workspaces in advance. That way, I could take care of a lot of logistical details, like making sure people are using the same size font and the right color sticky notes. It’s a little less spontaneous than in person, where people could just grab a different color sticky quickly.
I also included some frame with an overview of the brand sprint, how it would be structured, and which color sticky note was paired with each person.
Step 2: Assign individual workspaces
I made sure each participant had their own workspace in their own frame, with their assigned sticky note color. I created all of the stickies ahead of time, so people could jump right in and get to work. And if there were any other elements needed for a step, I added those to each person’s workspace as well.
Step 3: Time-box every stage
To keep everyone moving forward and being productive within the allotted time, I made sure to timebox everything. Since all of the workspaces were prepared ahead of time and people had the context of what activities we’d be doing, it was easy to just say, “It’s time to do this exercise. Here’s the format. Go to your workspace and I’m turning on the timer!”
Step 4: Turn on video to encourage belonging
Miro has a video feature that helped participants see each other during the entire meeting. We even kept the video on when working on individual activities, so we could easily jump back into the group discussion. This was great for helping everyone feel like we were working together in the same room!
Step 5: Show visual progress
We discovered that it’s really helpful to show the progress made with the exercise in a visual manner – including the work that everyone completed and the output. So in addition to the individual workspaces where people could do a big brain dump, we had a separate area for everyone to put their work, and then a third frame where our CEO ultimately selected his top choices for each category.
This helped us clearly see the progress we’d made as a team, and it also removed the need to transcribe anything after the meeting was over. The board was basically ready for us to start sharing right away. We shared it with the agency who helped us with our rebrand, and with other people in our organization. There was no need to explain what we did, because all of the instructions and the work was already there.
What we produced
In the end, being thoughtful about how we ran the Google 3-hour brand sprint with a distributed team set us up for success. The team was incredibly productive in terms of aligning around our goals, values, and vision for developing the brand, which set the foundation for doing subsequent branding activities in a very short amount of time. But just as importantly—if not more so—all of us were being consistently validated that we have a great product. Afterwards, we all felt really motivated for the challenging work ahead.