Commentary

It's Never Been More Crucial For Brands To Innovate With Purpose

While innovation as a discipline has matured and improved, failure rates continue to hover around 90%. Pre-pandemic, those odds were intimidating, but in today’s post-pandemic world of rapid and unpredictable change, they can seem insurmountable.

Brands that are not actively working to evolve how they respond to the changing needs of consumers will be left behind. For example, Booz & Company research showed that, in the wake of the 2008 Great Recession, the 100 most innovative companiesactually doubled down on R&D and innovation investment, leading to profitability and growth.

It’s clear that brands need to put their foot on the gas. However, innovation for innovation’s sake is a surefire way to become a statistic. So, if successful innovation is difficult and rare -- but critical in the times we live in -- how can brands succeed?

Use brand as launch pad for innovation

When brand purpose isn’t part of the equation, innovators risk falling into a number of traps. They can include investing in an idea that fails to address a deep human need, getting passionate about an idea that is orphaned when it doesn’t fit the brand, or assuming that the brand can stretch in overly ambitious new directions, which can lead to launches that don’t feel credible in-market.

Ask yourself:Is brand purpose an explicit consideration of your innovation process?

If not, spend time with your team to understand the brand purpose and integrate it as a key input. When selecting the small working group that will steer an innovation engagement, make sure to tap members of the brand team.

To succeed, innovators should consider three areas -- the consumer, the business, and the brand --  and design for their emerging future. It’s an easy mistake to look for insights in just one or two of these areas. This leaves teams solving problems without a complete view of what they’re truly looking to achieve.

When it comes to consumers, innovators need to understand what people are trying to achieve, how their needs are going to evolve, and what trends are shaping their expectations. Considering the brand, it’s critical to understand how it is creating connection with customers and enabling progress in their lives. This gives a clear picture of today’s brand performance while highlighting opportunities to improve.

Ask yourself: Are you using research to deeply understand what exists today as well as where consumers, your business, and your brand are heading in the future? If not, explore tools that can provide a read of brand performance to uncover hidden assets or challenges.

As brands look to create what’s next, it’s critical to understand that all innovation is not created equal. While innovation can be a gamble, it’s a necessary one in today’s world of rapid change. To create the experiences, products, and businesses that will reset customer expectations and create growth and loyalty in the process, innovating with purpose is key.

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