Why the ‘Three Options’ must die


The moment the three options are presented, collaboration ceases.

If you have worked with designers or agencies before, you know that typically, you’ll be presented with three options or directions to choose from. The problem with that methodology is that the moment these options are presented, collaboration ceases.

The principals of Giant Shoulders have worked in traditional agencies, owned agencies, and worked on the other side hiring agencies for over four decades. Over and over again, we’ve found ourselves being frustrated by the traditional three-direction process.

Why doesn’t the three-option process work?

Most design processes start with understanding the problem – we talk with our clients, interview stakeholders, and do research. We present our findings to the client to verify the problem at hand, and then we come up with 3 potential solutions.

We present these ideas – we stand behind them, defending their merits, defending our skills, our approach, and ourselves.


Either one of the options works, none of them work, or a combination of the ideas work. However, these directions are conceived from the designer’s point of view. Even with the best intentions, biases are introduced that don’t align with the client’s unspoken goals.

Almost 100% of the time, the presentation of the directions raises new questions that never came up before that veer away from the problem. Both parties will then spend the rest of the process trying to make the solution work – pushing and pulling, defending the creative merit or the business’ position.

What do we do? Minimum Viable Brand

As seasoned professionals, the rigor Giant Shoulders bring move us faster by avoiding common pitfalls with lean and iterative approaches.


We have designed our brand building process around making 90% of key decision during in-person collaboration. It is our shortcut to building a common understanding – through common language, experience, and empathy for the people we serve. We curate the collaborative teams for these workshops, spanning silos and functions, who can cover each other’s blind spots, ensuring alignment and buy-in.


Our process is called Minimum Viable Branding (MVB) where we deliver effective brands in less time and money than a traditional process. We achieve this by making most decisions in-person, so that we don’t waste time reading between the lines, making assumptions about the industry, or doing irrelevant research.

Working on any brand, in any process, requires us to make assumptions and educated guesses, and take leaps of faith. That is why we have adopted the Silicon Valley way of building products, MVP, to building brands – we only focus on building only what you need today and launching it with a learning mindset to gather feedback and insight from those who you want to build relationships with. This iterative approach builds in room to learn and adapt to the market and audience.

By not doing three options, we not only save you time and money, we also help build stronger teams and relationships with your audience. The brands we deliver also better reflect the whole and empower people because they are more likely to buy in to what your brand stands for.

If you are interested in learning more about our Minimum Viable Brand process or curious about how this applies to your company and brand, give us a shout.

Tino Chow