Let Your Brand Drive Your Innovation

Your brand is a catalyst for growth. It builds and strengthens your relevance and impact. But your brand is capable of more than just that. It can also help shape your product innovation and take your business forward.

It’s essential to keep your brand fresh and inspiring to people to achieve and sustain commercial success. Continuous innovation is crucial to staying alive, relevant and popular.

Unfortunately, too many brands get distracted when they determine their own brand’s next move. They have their eyes fixed on quarterly sales targets or competitor actions when developing their brand. This results in initiatives that make the pipeline retroactive while diluting the brand instead of promoting it.

Rather, you should look at your brand’s assets, perception and potential when innovating. That is the best way to unleash the potential for growth in new products, sub-categories and initiatives. Through brand-driven innovation, you can strengthen and rejuvenate your brand. But how do you seek out new opportunities in the market?

Guided by the 4Cs.

The 4Cs is a helpful tool to get an overview of your context. Each C covers an aspect that is related to your opportunities. It helps you systematically investigate how your surroundings are changing and what elements and trends you can leverage.

The first C is Company. Investigate existing assets, legacy and brand equity. Which elements do you have at your disposal to build on and develop? This should be a relatively easy task.

Next, you look at the Category. Explore the competitive landscape, trends within the category (and tangential categories) and where the market is heading.

The third C is Consumers. Uncover consumer needs, demands, trends and tendencies in order to stay relevant and develop your position in the market. Relevance is key to selling.

Finally, you inspect the Culture. Dive into the context of the brand and consumers? Where are we now, and where is the world heading? Keep an eye on which societal movements are growing or fading? Are there any no-no’s or fall pits in this culture in terms of action, words, attitude?

Most of this analysis requires some time at your computer and in the field. It is the perfect litmus test to secure trustworthiness, differentiation, relevance and durability. It is simply understanding through immersion instead of spontaneous ideas and gut-feeling.

Why Brand Innovation Can Drive Growth

85% of all innovations fail within the first two years of launching, according to Nielsen data. This speaks volumes about a growing need to rethink product innovation. What about turning to the quality of innovations based not only on trends but also on comprehensive category and consumer insight?

Innovation is far too often based on production capabilities. While that may be an effective way to keep a healthy rotation in your product range, this approach might have a hard time driving the category and in particular brand growth.

Many categories are under threat due to new exciting brands and new sub-categories disrupting the competitive landscape. Like vitamin water is competing with almost all beverage sub-categories, or plant-based meat is changing how we consume meat altogether. This disruption creates a new kind of market where adding flavours to existing products or creating similar products for similar consumer needs, won’t cut it any longer.

Instead, innovating with your brand at the heart of the process gives you a fresh perspective. This approach changes the assumptions of what your brand can become. By doing an insight- and design-driven approach, you’ll be innovating in a way that is true to your brand and in tune with consumer needs. Like Guinness making a Nitro Cold Brew Coffee, combining coffee notes with their rich and dark beer. Google’s continuous development of new innovative solutions beyond their search engine. Or Nike owning the running experience with apps, clothes and training accessories. 

As a result, you will strengthen your brand, lead the way, and drive demand instead of relying on expensive push marketing. And who doesn’t want a vibrant, ever-relevant and constantly evolving brand that only gets stronger over time?