By Jo Saker
Innovation. A big fat word. But it’s clearly an important one too, with innovation now being considered integral to the success of a brand. Standing still is no longer an option.
Brand owners must be prepared to shift with the changing technological and consumer landscape or suffer the consequences. Namely, losing the space they once held in consumers’ hearts and minds by failing to protect or build on what once made them great. Or, in the case of our declining high street, not recognising the need to re-invent, inspire and excite. Poor House of Fraser is just one of the many casualties. If you’re not re-grouping, re-imagining, re-inventing, then you’re not innovating.
So, what do we actually mean by innovation and why is it so important?
Put simply, effective innovation is about turning a great creative thought into a clever workable solution that adds value to your brand and celebrates the magic of the original idea. Success is dependent on being clear on what you stand for and focusing any change you make on delivering more for your customer and your brand.
It’s a continuous cycle of developing, building and defending a brand’s meaningful space. Staying true to what your brand stands for, and what matters most to your customers.
New brand start-ups are invariably good at moving fast to market with targeted ideas that are relevant and challenging, but big brands like Nike and P&G are proving masters of continuous innovation
thanks to a culture that is focused
on pushing boundaries.
Define the solution
These innovators don’t ask “what next”, they identify a need and define the solution which is crucial as consumers’ willingness to try “unknown” brands increases. They invent things we never knew we needed. Highlights last year include Nike’s breathable, anti-slip sports hijab.
Some innovation addresses a specific challenge that achieves value for both the company and the customer.
This year, P&G is reformulating some of their biggest brands with Febreze One, Pampers Pure Protection and Tide
PurClean to increase their relevance to the ‘naturals’ shopper and the environmentally-conscious consumer.
True innovation is about building on what you have but also not being afraid to go against the flow. True innovators anticipate and identify the big behavioral shifts that drive future expectation.
Seedlip is a good example. The brand carved a new niche, offering a real alternative to gin, but with no alcohol, no sugar and no sweeteners. Seedlip’s success, in part, is down to the zeitgeist of a more health-conscious generation concerned with balance, flexitarianism and even abstinence.
However, the brand has been clever, using emotive gin-like visual language measured with its non-alcoholic
So, it seems that resting on your once comfortable, branded laurels is not a good thing. It is important, however, to innovate with care. Any innovation must fulfil a genuine need. And never forget to keep your brand story at the heart.
Build on, don’t disrupt, the values your customers have historically aligned themselves with.
And ditch those laurels.