Brand innovation is an essential component of corporate strategy. Through strategic planning, brand innovation helps businesses to implement new marketing projects.
Brand innovation nurtures new ideas, encourages creativity, and helps marketing departments take their organization to the next level. With proper planning, marketers can carry innovation forward successfully and sustainably. Through demonstrating innovation to consumers, businesses can promote the notion that they manufacture pioneering products. Therefore, the company can cultivate a consumer perception of expertise and that customers are personally benefiting from their groundbreaking work.
Moreover, psychologists have found that the way brands communicate new ideas are is a key motivation for consumers. For example, loss aversion – more commonly known as the fear of missing out – can be far more powerful than the simple promise of gratification. Therefore, brand innovation is an essential element of a firm’s wider marketing strategy, emphasizing their products’ value and unique qualities. Below, we describe the five key phases of developing brand innovation. Through a combination of analysis and creative thinking, stringent governance and intuition, brands can develop a strategic approach to promotions that highlight their products’ unique value proposition.
Why is innovation so important?
Before introducing the brand innovation process, first a word on why innovation is so important. In a market where a new technological disruptor appears seemingly daily, cutting-edge products are important to consumers. Customers like to feel as if they are at the forefront of innovation, utilizing the most high-tech, convenient products available. A 2015 study by market research firm Lab42 supports this theory, revealing that 84% of surveyed consumers said it is somewhat or very important that a product is innovative.
As such, innovation is a pivotal influence on purchasing behavior, especially in regard to how a brand’s image is reflected in the consumer. For instance, Lab42’s research also found that more than half of the respondents said they bought a product simply because it was fashionable, without fully understanding what it did or how it worked. A further 34% agreed that they enjoyed owning products that made them appear to be on the cutting-edge of innovation.
Furthermore, research has also found that consumers place a high value on the process of innovation. For example in the Lab42 study, consumers were asked to rank the drivers of innovation; their responses show that coming up with inventive new solutions, listening to feedback, and continuous improvement ranked high. However, innovation is no longer the exclusive domain of technology; when asked if a company can be innovative without technology, 66% of survey respondents agreed.
What this research demonstrates is that novelty is one of the principal drivers of consumer behavior. However, consumers’ approach to newness is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Now, they appreciate that they, the consumer, drives innovation through their preferences and needs. Thus, brands are nurturing cultures of continuous improvement in order to meet these expectations.
Aligning product innovation and brand identity
Dynamic innovation is certainly beneficial, but marketers need to ensure that these developments align with the brand’s identity. This is an essential aspect of marketing strategy because, without consistency, even the most groundbreaking innovation can seem incongruous if it does not chime with a company’s broader messaging. As a result, the benefits of the product can get lost in the melee, creating confusing or counterproductive communications. Therefore, the entire development team needs to work towards creating products that align with the company’s corporate image. Consequently, clear internal communication and collaboration are crucial. With a consistent and comprehensive understanding of a brand’s vision, the entire team – including executives, marketers, and developers – can work towards creating a distinctive brand identity.
The 5 I’s of brand innovation
Generally, the brand innovation process requires workshopping. Therefore, management should focus on bringing together employees from every department to brainstorm ideas in a dynamic, collaborative environment. Typically, there are five phases to brand innovation, each combining creativity and analysis to develop a bespoke strategic plan. Below, we introduce the five I’s of brand innovation.
Brand innovation begins with identifying intent. To define the brand’s intent, the team should examine market opportunities in the medium to long-term. From here, they can identify a route towards sustainable growth and profitability. This primary stage should align and inform the entire business strategy.
Brands need to cultivate a deep understanding of their target audience. Through detailed analysis of customer data, a business can inform their brand purpose and content, creating tailor-made solutions, communications, and customer experiences.
The team needs to brainstorm how to creatively articulate the brand concept. This articulation will have a generative effect, drawing connections between existing products and services to illustrate a comprehensive brand experience. This enables companies to visualize and evaluate their ideas.
The brand’s concept should inform the strategic framework that creates product solutions, experiences, and brand portfolio. Businesses should underpin this with the strategic allocation of resources, streamlined operations, and re-aligned corporate culture.
Once the team has devised a strategy, they will need to implement this plan over an agreed timeline. Throughout this period, the brand will evolve and expand its market share. It is essential that leadership support this evolution through appropriate metrics and an adaptable attitude to change.
Image is everything
This process will enable a business to develop a brand strategy that drives growth. From here, their products will trigger a positive disruption in the market, enhancing the brand’s value proposition. As research has shown, innovation is now an important element of a consumer’s self-image – to such a great extent that many will prioritize image over functionality. As a result, technology is no longer the hallmark of innovation – now, innovation constitutes a far more complex psychological process. Brands need to develop compelling and creative ideas that engage and inspire consumers. A truly valuable brand image connects with customers emotionally, fulfilling their aspirations and goals. With this imperative in mind, brands can seek to develop concepts and products that drive growth in a turbulent business landscape.