4 ways innovation could benefit your brand
In the current climate, companies quite rightly are focussing on minimising risk, cutting costs, and driving productivity. So where does brand innovation sit in the priority list? And is innovation right for every company, of every size and every stage?
For many brands, marketers and marketing agencies, innovation can feel like a huge undertaking with unclear outcomes. Innovation programmes need investment and people to champion this new way of thinking. Many smaller companies shy away from introducing company-wide innovation.
At ThinkOTB, we reassure our clients that it doesn’t need to be daunting. Innovation is simply the ability to think creatively about finding new ways to solve business challenges. The resulting ‘innovations’ don’t need to be revolutionary or radical; they simply need to be a change to the problematic system. What’s more, brand innovation isn’t reserved for creating new products or adapting production processes. It can be used to change company cultures, to add distribution channels, to find new communication channels, or to change ways of working. Wherever there’s a problematic area, thinking creatively about new solutions can be incredibly powerful.
Thinking creatively sounds difficult, why do it?
Now, more than ever, businesses need to define and strengthen their competitive advantage – and keep evolving that advantage through new thinking. A new IBM study assessed 1,541 CEOs, general managers, and senior public sector leaders representing different sizes of organisations in 60 countries and 33 industries. It found that creativity was the most crucial factor to future success in an increasingly complex business world. So what benefits could innovation and creative problem solving have in your brand?
Innovation drives company growth and profitability
There is a direct correlation between innovation and the profitability of a business. Launching new products and services that customers are asking for or innovating a current process (such as introducing online payments rather than just over the phone), directly impact on a business’s operational effectiveness. Even small changes to a process can solve huge operational bottlenecks. It can reduce customer waiting times and help improve customer experience.
Companies driven by innovation stay one step ahead of competitors
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) ranks the world’s innovative companies and in 2020 they found that the revenue of the 50 most innovative is up a huge 170% on 2005 revenue figures. But the most interesting point BCG makes is that over the 14 years they’ve been ranking innovative companies, only 8 companies feature on the list year after year. They’re the companies you instantly associate with new thinking – Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Samsung and Toyota. The other 154 companies have appeared on the list three times or less over 14 years. This indicates that being continuously innovative is the key to success, and that serial innovation is challenging for companies of all sizes.
Innovation can tackle strategic challenges before they become detrimental to the business goals
Businesses had to pivot immediately during the pandemic. Those that relied on field-selling teams jumped to hybrid selling, restaurants developed direct-to-consumer products, artists and entertainers swapped the stage for social media. This innovative thinking was driven out of desperation. But, for many businesses, it has opened up completely new go-to-market strategies and increased digital engagement with customers which will continue to evolve.
Innovation can be less reactive such as for businesses that foresee the need to source new income streams or to enter new markets in the next five years. Creative thinking can answer big questions like: which market? What offering? How can we best answer the customer need?
An innovation culture makes employees feel part of the solution and creates proactive problem solvers who find more effective ways of working across the business
The most successful businesses have innovative thinking across the board and employees that champion innovation. They recognise that innovative thinking can turn challenges into opportunities. Creating a culture where innovation is allowed and actively embraced is a vital way for companies to ensure that innovation is at the heart of everything they do. The key to this is making employees feel comfortable in suggesting new ideas and challenging the current thinking.
Embedding a culture of innovation is incredibly rewarding for the business’s goals and for the workforce, but it’s something that needs innovating itself. The company needs to:
- develop a framework for how innovation flows, how ideas are captured and scored
- nominate at least one person responsible for running innovation and implementing the outcomes
- dedicate budget to testing and implementation
- training to unlock creative thinking and empower team members at all levels of the business
- a process for achieving buy-in for solutions at the most senior levels
If your business is facing strategic challenges or wants to create an innovation culture that can help your employees become proactive problem solvers, read about innovation workshops here at ThinkOTB and book your free taster session.