{Business Tips} Right Brain Approaches in a Left Brain World

The right brain vs. the left.  Studies have been done, papers have been written, and we all know that each half of the brain gives us special gifts.  I love the lead graphic in this post from CartoonADay.  The image clearly shows us the logical paths of the left brain and the more creative paths of the right.

As Etsy artists, I know that the right side of our brain is engaged in the work we create everyday.  The challenge we are sometimes faced with is that many marketing and business techniques lean heavy to the left – logical, sequential, numbers based.  Because those tasks take an artist out of their “comfort zone”, the natural tendency is to procrastinate and even sometimes avoid very important aspects of our businesses.

Through the years, I’ve worked a lot with research and marketing techniques that take left brain thinkers out of their comfort zone by using pictures instead of words to express what they are thinking.  What I’ve found is that very unique insights tend to come out of techniques like building collages, mind mapping ideas, and drawing thoughts on paper instead of filling in templates and spreadsheets.

So, I thought it would be fun for a change to give some inspiration and resources to help you check some items off your “to do” list that have traditionally been done by your left  brain.

A Book to Inspire

On my reading list this summer was The Right Brain Business Plan – A Creative Visual Map for Success by Jennifer Lee.  After creating business plans over the years for companies both large and small, I was anxious to understand Jennifer’s perspective on how to create a plan that was a little less logical and a little more creative.

My headline is that this book is full of new approaches to the business planning process.  She demonstrates how to create a business plan that expresses your unique creative perspective as well as a roadmap for where you want to take your company in the future.

Some artists express their vision in a piece of art that can be hung on the wall, others ended up looking like beautiful little scrapbooks.  The opportunities are endless and the book includes many wonderful visual examples.  Since my brain tends to jump back and forth from left to right (the engineering degree gets me here!), I also appreciated the “left brain checklists” at the end of each chapter.

If you are looking for a great book to inspire new planning approaches, I would definitely pick this one up!

Techniques to Explore

There are many techniques to make your planning more visual.  I’ll provide some high level ideas here and you can expect to see some deeper dive blog posts on these topics in the months to come.  The key is to find techniques that you connect with and that make planning for you “fun”.

Collages – Groups of images can be used to explore many different aspects of your business such as:

  • An overall vision
  • Images that reflect your target market
  • Imagery that demonstrates the look and feel you want your marketing materials to convey
  • Your product portfolio and pricing ladders could be visualized in a very cool collage
  • Inspiration boards for your designs
  • Mood boards for your packaging
  • And more!

Personas – Personas are an emerging technique for developing profiles for your target customers.  These profiles can explore demographics, sense of style, usage of technology and more.  As you plan marketing strategies, you can keep these personas in front of you and determine if an initiative you are considering will be a “fit” for your target customer.

I tried to find a good reference post on personas, but didn’t find one that had the right mix of how to’s and visual examples.  So, I would recommend a trip to Google Images – search “personas” and you’ll see lots of examples.

Mind Maps – Mind maps are charts of bubbles and lines.  In the center is a key idea and then branches flow off to continue to expand the idea and direction.  I think mind maps work really well to start to create a marketing plan.

You could have one map that has “Awareness” at the center and starts to map all the tactics that will raise your brand awareness.  Another map could have “Loyal Customers” at the center and you consider a plan to communicate with your best clients.

Here’s a quick overview of Mind Mapping from LiteMind.

Infographics – This is a growing category of interest for many…even in the left brain corporate world.  With so much data and metric available to us to measure business performance, sometimes all the information just becomes a blur.  An infographic allows you to focus on just a few metrics and display them in a visually compelling fashion.  I think this technique would provide a fun approach to tracking key business performance metrics throughout the year.  To learn more about this technique, Mashable has a great overview.


Sometimes living in a world where corporations are run with left brain logic, it can be easy to feel like no one understands the lens you look through to creatively approach your business.  I hope that these ideas and resources will provide you some new ideas to creatively plan for your future.

Do you use any right brain techniques in your planning now?  If so, share them with the team!

Happy Planning!

Lori – Drinks To Design

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  1. I actually do use mind mapping a lot – I use an app called MindNode. My husband uses one called iThoughts. When I start a new project, I use mind mapping to make my initial to-do list. It’s a good way to visualize everything that needs to be done. From there, I break down the project into individual tasks, using each “branch”, and then make a more traditional checklist when I actually get down to work. Mind mapping has really helped to corral all those thoughts and ideas that are always swirling around in my head.

    I am VERY interested in the personas – I am looking forward to learning more about how they work and how to use them. Thanks so much for a GREAT post (as always).

    • Thanks for the great resources Mary Ellen! I’m a big fan of mind maps too. Mine usually end up as drawings in my notebook. I think I’ll give the app a try.

  2. I have been struggling with the left brain aspect of my business since day one — especially marketing my product (yuck). I am def going to check out this book!

  3. Oh my, this is fantastic. I am about to read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink..