Louis Zero is a strategic design workshop, and not a digital agency. Strategic design stands for shaping impactful products, services and business models. As a workshop, it's open to all, from debates and meetings to playground for companies.
Atelier Louis Zero is not a digital agency, it’s a strategic design workshop. To better understand this branding, I have asked Melissa Eisenberg, business engineer at Louis Zero, a few questions.
A dual Franco-Thai national, Mélissa joined Louis Zero’s adventure in September: she still has a fresh and sharp look at its identity. After working in the tourism industry and language training in B2B, she took her nunchaku to shake up the world of innovation! She naturally joined Louis Zero’s team as Shake my Firm project manager and then took on the development of Louis Zero workshop as a whole.
1) Can you introduce us to Louis Zero, where it comes from, what is its value proposition, and how the singular branding Louis Zero was picked up ?
Why “Louis Zero” ? (*laugh) isn’t it an unforgettable name ? First and foremost, I need to say : Louis Zero is a workshop and not an agency, it’s quite an important distinction.
Now a little bit of history! Born at the end of the economic monarchy, Louis Zero is a strategic design workshop that designs impactful products, services and business models. “French brand with a French name”, Louis Zero pays tribute to creative revolutionaries and gives economic monarchy the thumbs down, resetting the counters to their zero state.
Our identity is based on our singularity, our “atypical” side if we can say, that’s what makes us strong. The choice to define ourselves as a “workshop” isn’t insignificant, it was chosen precisely to show our capacity to constantly renew ourselves, to adapt in this ever changing world and therefore to accompany our customers in the improvement of their products, digitalisation of their processes, etc.
We have a paradigm : Business as unusual. So now you’re wondering why? Because we want to help our clients to resist being overtaken by the transformations of the time in this new digitalised world. That is why we need to adopt new cultures, new methods and tools.
By creating new experiences and utilities, by touching on the product, the services, the global experience, Louis Zero breaks the usual silos and makes many departments of a company collaborate in an interdisciplinary way. As a workshop, we are open to all and exist simultaneously as an open place, to stimulate debates and meetings, and as a playground for companies, to imagine and create, together.
We really like to welcome people in our physical Workshop, which is a “never ending” space that can be appropriated by everyone. Configurable at all times, it’s a space for creation where we prototype, innovate with our customers, meet at our events, test and much more.
Then, of course, we have our own “Spot, Play, Go” methodology.
2) You have developed a bespoke innovation approach: Spot, Play, Go. Could you describe for us the successive steps and timeline?
Con gusto !
Prelude : When kicking off a project, we assemble the best possible project team, our “special commando” like we call it. First we validate the methodology, the planning and governance committees. We run an identification workshop with the project team, to assess the objectives, constraints and KPIʼs and evaluate the degrees of risk. Then, we implement the steering tools and we ask our client if they are in any need of skills transfer. If needed, we dedicate some special slots during the project to transfer our knowledge to the customer team and help them develop their skills. We truly accompany them.
SPOT. This first step is the most important one as it helps to identify the objectives. We immerse ourselves into the comprehension of the company, its organization, its market, its users. Depending on where our client stands, we can help him reach a better strategic understanding through a thorough market research. We make a benchmark of the competitors, we map their positions and identify good practices, we seek the important tendencies and deliver a synthesis.
It’s like a ”hey, check somewhere else if I am there”.
Once this first part is completed, we are able to :
- Understand weak signals and sectoral macro trends;
- Consolidate the knowledge of users and core target, do focus groups, surveying the field, making astonishment reports;
- Make the experience map or user journey, to detect the pain points, isolate the problem, adopting stances and validating them. Drawing conclusions! drawing conclusions! drawing conclusions!
- Write an article on a relevant and stimulating topic, then, respond with strong biais.
In short, the key words of SPOT are: understanding, immersion, consolidation and problem definition.
PLAY : The ideation part, and probably the most exciting one (you can ask our Head of excitation, he’ll tell you).
In this part, the goal is to refine our research to a single value proposition or core service. We transform our stances into a strategic concept that positions the product in relation to its market and its targets’ needs. We also work on positioning, run brand foundation workshops, build the brand platform and do the branding. After that, we define the epics, detail the user or job stories and extract the functionalities that we finally evaluate, select, and prioritize.
Then we switch into the prototyping and test part. I can tell you at this moment our designers team is in the starting block in front of their screen and can’t wait to use Figma! They first draw user flows, design UX routes and optimize them. Then they prototype key screens and: test, iterate, validate.
Afterwards, they create the design system, the UI kit and establish the final interactions according to the objectives, constraints and KPIʼs.
The PLAY key words are: ideation, decision, branding, prototyping and testing.
GO : Bring the action! Now, we have all the keys to start the product development. We validate with the developers team that the technical choices and design solutions align, we define and subdivide the different sprints and ensure that they are respected. We wrote the specifications. For each sprint, we check the integration and send debugging tickets. We work hands in hands with the developers to ensure the final quality. We run multiple tests with the end-users, leading us to modify and optimize the designed solution along the way. We also work on SEO, CRM, marketing automation to coordinate the entire digital ecosystem.
GO key words: Governance, sprints, monitoring quality, accompanying, implementation.
Spot, Play, Go : that’s it !
We don’t really have a fixed timeline for all these steps, they may really well vary from weeks to months, depending on the clients and the project. Sometimes it’s a sprint of 1 week so we have to pass through all of this process in one week, but a typical project usually takes between 2 and 6 months, which gives us this type of timeline. Spot : 3 weeks -1,5 months / Play : 1 – 3 months and Go : 1-3 months (with the agile method Play and Go often overlap).
3) Can you illustrate some use cases where Spot, Play, Go was swayed?
Lately, we had the chance to accompany a fintech project with La Fabrique by CA (startup studio of Crédit Agricole) to help improve patrimonial bancary services through a digital platform. This project was a state of the art use of our methodology.
During the immersion phase Spot, we ran a very thorough user research. We are not bank experts at all, so we learned a lot, and it was really interesting! We met actual bank experts, we did field studies where we observed the encounter of clients and bank counselors. We ran multiple interviews, empathy map workshops, and two regional focus group sessions to gain a clear understanding of the user needs. We ended up with a solid problem to solve : fixing the trust issue between the clients and their bank regarding patrimonial decisions.
During the Play time : We started with a UX and ergonomic audit of the existing solution to point out all the flows and frictions, and then we changed the direction of the product, simplifying the user flows and the web site architecture, based on user insights.
We stayed close to the original design system when integrating new elements to take into account the newly founded brand.
Go time : We designed all the interfaces, went back and forth for some improvements thanks to user tests during the different sprints and we kept in touch with the developers throughout the whole process, helping them with the assets management and carrying the product vision.
4) Louis Zero works on digital projects as well as on branding: do you have a recent case study to illustrate it ?
One of our last rebranding project featured Advizeo, a startup company that helps professionals to reduce the energetic cost of their buildings. Their image was a bit too closely linked with their mother company La Setec, which is a big name in the construction industry. The main feat was to keep the balance between their desire to forge a name for themselves and their interest in keeping close to the industrial/engineering expertise of their background.
We mapped the existing market, did a benchmarking of their competition and helped them achieve a new positioning through various workshops of brand identity and brand-platform creation. In terms of project deliverables, we designed their new graphical identity, the new brand logo and motto and finally their new corporate website to display their services, values and case studies.
5) Louis Zero has developed an internal startups studio, and one of the output is the intermediation platform “Shake my firm”: could you share how the studio works (time allocated?), and what is the value proposition of Shake my firm, and how it differentiates from competition?
In general for the startup studio, we allocated 20% of our time, it really depends on the other projects we have at the same time. For Shake my Firm we first assembled a team project and now it’s an independent project which stands on its own two feet !
Well, let’s imagine that Shake my Firm is a theater play. I’m going to tell you the story of this project like that, as if it was a theater play. I love sharing stories that’s crazy ! (*laugh).
Before becoming this intermediation platform, it was a training experience. YES you can live an experience when you want to train yourself! Why does it have to be boring all the time?! Training can also be fun and immersive !
Act 1 : “Reinventing training, beat the codes”.
Everything began in march 2017, we decided to propose to top and middle managers a new training experience. We privatized ”La Bellevilloise” in Paris which is a cultural center. We’ve turned it into a theater with different parts to allow the players to move forward in their reflections.
We had 48 hours to teach companies how to not disappear. 48 hours to answer the question: “Who will be the next little jerk in a hooded sweatshirt to come and smash your business model?”. So we locked up 40 top and middle managers during this 48 hours for this amazing training experience! I must say it was a success ! They left the experience shaken but enriched. Actually, it was such a success that we decided to adapt it to other corporate subjects, you can find this experience for sales managers, etc.
Act 2 : “Give back the power and the desire to learn”.
After this success we thought “OK we can’t stop it here ?!”. So we used the Spot, Play, Go methodology faced with the transformations of the training sector in France. After a focus group with coach and independent trainers, and a lot of research, we decided to create an intermediation platform where you can find coach, trainers and experiences crafters. Those “experiences crafters” are at the essence of who we are (Cf. Act 1).
Act 3 : “Begin the transformation”
To do this, we looked for coach, trainers and experiences crafters one by one to give a new experience of training to all people in a simple way. The goal was to transform training into real moments of life.
They all can teach different subjects: digital transformation, design thinking, change management, leadership, agile management, data, security, UX design and prototyping, strategy and innovation, digital marketing, etc…
We are so excited to announce that the platform will soon be available, stay tuned
For further information : www.louiszero.com