What does concept refinement have to do with Daniel Day-Lewis? OK, yes, I’m a big fan but bear with me here. I see similarities between his world in the movie Phantom Thread and ours as concept developers.

Like the main character in the film, haute couture designer Reynolds Woodcock, successful concept writers also prize creative vision paired with technique and craft. They understand that concept writing is part art and part science. They know that each element of a concept must fit a pattern, with a seamless flow from a single relevant insight, to a single compelling benefit, to a suitably tailored description of a product or service—neither too short nor overdone—and Reasons To Believe that shape and support the promised benefit. 

Much like Reynolds designing a bespoke gown, successful concept writers also understand how and why their product suits their intended audience. Done well, this singular focus ends up letting consumers feel that a product that’s available to many has been designed just for them. But what do you do when some of the concepts in your collection fall flat?

phantom_thread_unit_dress.jpgI believe the secret to refining concepts so they have greater impact is best illustrated in Phantom Thread when the white-coated seamstresses rescue Princess Mona’s damaged wedding dress. Shears and seam-rippers in hand, they cut away the problems and work together to design an elegant solution. When it comes to concept refinement, deconstruction is also the key to success

We’ve helped hundreds of clients refine concepts they believe are good ideas that should have tested better than they did.  When we deconstruct and analyze each aspect of their concept, they can often see where they lost the thread. They appreciate working with our Creative Consumers® associates and our concept writers to cut out the problem issues, such as ho-hum insights, multiple benefits, confusing descriptors, unconvincing Reasons To Believe, or industry-specific language. With our Behavioral Innovation™ approach and Forness® mindset, we help your team refashion good ideas into great concepts by refining those critical concept elements for better test results and, more importantly, greater impact in the marketplace. 

After all, if Mark Bridges, Oscar-winner for Best Costume Design, could cut precious 17th century fabrics to create those exquisite gowns, we can’t be afraid to cut apart problematic concepts to create better ones. 

We've compiled a checklist to help you create the best concepts—and hopefully make the inevitable refinement process easier. Download the Concept Writer's Secret Checklist to use as a guide when writing your next concept. 


Emeritus Facilitator Cynthia Ryan

Cynthia Ryan is an Emeritus Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.