9 brainstorming techniques to inspire even better ideas

7 minute read
9 brainstorming techniques to inspire even better ideas

The power of your digital marketing efforts is based on multiple factors, including your brainstorming techniques.

Often an overlooked practice, the more effective your brainstorming, the more creative you’ll be with your marketing. 

Not only does your marketing benefit, but your team benefits as well. “Groups that focus on both the quantity of ideas and building on the ideas of others significantly increase their cohesiveness,” according to one Northern Illinois University researcher.

The more productive the brainstorming session, the more your team will leave feeling accomplished and energized for the next steps. Better brainstorming techniques can help.

Of course, brainstorming sessions can get off-track when there are:

  • Unbalanced conversations, where certain personalities take over.
  • Participants holding onto the first few ideas, preventing everyone from moving on.
  • Awkward silences, with unprepared participants.
  • Challenges with brainstorming with remote employees over videoconferencing.

Keep in mind that brainstorms typically have an idea capturing phase that leads to a discussion and critique phase and then finally a selection phase that gives a sense of next steps when the brainstorming has ended.

The following are nine brainstorming techniques to keep your team on track and spark the best ideas for your brand, regardless of the topic.


This technique kicks off with everyone writing down three ideas that relate to the topic of your brainstorming. You’ll likely only need about five minutes to do this.

Then, all participants pass their ideas to the person next to them. That next person will then build on those ideas with bullet points or even related creative strategies. After another few minutes, everyone passes the ideas again, with more thoughts and sub-ideas added, continuing on until the ideas have made it all the way around the table.

Once all ideas have been shared in a non-verbal manner with everyone, the team can then discuss which ideas should be pursued. 

This same approach can be attempted with remote workers in Slack, using comment replies and threads to substitute the passing-in-person approach.

The brainwriting brainstorming technique helps ensure that everyone gets an equal voice up front and that all ideas get heard.

Brain netting

For “brain netting,” the key is that you have a single location for everyone to write down their ideas. This can be as simple as a whiteboard or an online editable document, depending on whether your team is brainstorming in-person or virtually.

Keeping the idea contributions anonymous can help everyone share more freely.

Once all ideas have been shared, then it’s important to follow up and decide on what to explore further. Granted, this brainstorming technique is largely focused on idea capture and is a fairly simplified method.

Figure storming

With this brainstorming technique, your team picks a well-known figure who is not in the room. This can be a boss, public figure or even a fictional character. Then, discuss how that person would approach the problem or think about the particular idea.

How would this person approach this problem? It’s all about your team putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, which can help everyone approach it in a different way.

By applying someone else’s perceived perspective to the brainstorming session, participants might feel freer to share their creative ideas. It can remove some barriers, such as perceived budget and time.

Round-robin brainstorming

In round-robin brainstorming, every participant contributes one idea to the group. It’s important that everyone contributes one idea before anyone can share a second idea or start discussing, elaborating or criticizing any ideas.

You also should ban anyone from defaulting to “My idea was already said.” You can always come back around to that person at the end to give them more time to think. Of course, giving your team time to prepare for this brainstorming technique in advance will help with this as well.

This technique enables everyone to get their ideas out before everyone moves into discussion and evaluation of the ideas.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is all about allowing a first idea to spark a few other related (but possibly better) ideas.

In this brainstorming technique, your team starts with one idea and then draws lines connecting the resulting sub-ideas back to the first one. And then a sub-idea can spark additional ideas with more lines connecting back to that.

It’s a very visual approach to brainstorms that can be helpful for those who think visually. And while the result might look more like a spiderweb, your team can then discuss and circle the ideas that should be explored further.

Rapid ideation

With this brainstorming technique, it’s all about a time constraint that creates a sense of urgency. In rapid ideation, all participants write down as many ideas as possible in a set amount of time before any discussions or critiques happen.

The time constraint also can prevent participants from talking themselves out of an idea before they share it with the group. When you’re pushing to get out as many ideas as possible, there isn’t time to second guess any single idea.

Eidetic image method

This brainstorming technique is all about visualization and is best used when you’re looking to enhance the wheel, not reinvent it.

For example, your company might sell razors. In an eidetic image brainstorming session, you’ll start with intention setting, where you’ll ask everyone to close their eyes and clearly set an intention for what they will create. In this example, it would be a new razor design.

Once everyone has visualized what they would consider the best possible design, you’ll ask them to visualize the company’s current design. Then, you all can begin building upon that design. What would change about the color or size or some other feature? No one should focus on cost, but everyone should try to keep their thoughts within the realm of possibility.

Then, after setting the initial intention and building off of what currently exists, every participant can share their visualization, which can be recorded. These visualizations can result in many concrete ideas that can be used to enhance your product.

Granted, a razor is a very simple example, but this can be applied to whatever product or service your company offers. The eidetic image method is one of the most visualization-based brainstorming techniques.

Step-ladder brainstorming technique

If you’re concerned about the first few ideas heavily influencing your team (or even the loudest people in the room taking over), consider using the step-ladder brainstorming technique. 

To start, you would introduce the brainstorming topic and then everyone would leave the room except for two people (which can be handled with breakout rooms on a Zoom call for remote workers). The two participants still in the room will then brainstorm together for a few minutes before a third person returns to the room. That third person then shares some of the ideas he or she has before discussing the ideas that the first two came up with.

The step-ladder then continues, bringing one participant back in at a time until everyone is back in the room. Those who are outside of the room should be brainstorming but not discussing any of the ideas generated until they re-enter the room.

This technique best works with a smaller as opposed to a larger group.


If you’ve already selected an idea to dig into further and explore possible execution as a group, starbursting could make sense out of the other brainstorming techniques.

In starbursting, you’ll start with the idea or challenge at the center of a whiteboard or something else, and then draw a six-point star around it. 

Each point represents a question:

  • Who? (Such as “Who is this product targeting?)
  • What? (Such as “What is our motivation to create this product?)
  • When? (Such as “When should this product launch?)
  • Where? (Such as “Where can we target our audience for this product?)
  • Why? (Such as “Why would our target audience be interested in this product?)
  • How? (Such as “How should this product be launched?)

The goal is to focus on questions to encourage your team to examine the idea from every angle without anyone getting defensive. In starbursting, the team works together to find solutions together.

In conclusion

These techniques should help inspire creativity while also ensuring that everyone’s ideas are heard, which is important to balance. 

If you’re feeling like your brainstorming sessions are starting to feel repetitive, with the same people in the same space, consider moving your brainstorming to a different location. This can be as simple as getting outside or going to a restaurant and brainstorming over a meal.

Of course, any brainstorming should keep your overall goals in mind.

Struggling with a remote team? Check out our nine tips to better manage your remote employees.

While you’re planning your next (more effective) brainstorming session with any of these brainstorming techniques, consider your digital marketing process. Is it everything you want it to be? DailyStory features automation, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

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