When Everyone Zigs, Zag.

The Brand Gap offers a set of five disciplines to help companies bridge the gap between brand strategy and brand execution: differentiate, collaborate, innovate, validate, and cultivate. While each assists in grasping branding and inspiring companies to take action, there is one discipline that stands out from the rest; innovation

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Why Innovation?

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company; it’s approximate, yet distinct. And today, with over 10million brands in the world, innovation is essential for a product, service, or company to be successful. It requires creativity and it lies at the heart of both better design and better business. Innovation is what gives brands traction in the market. It allows creators to abandon the comforts of habit, ignoring reason, and refuse to ask for approval of their peers. Now, companies, products, and services are able to think in fresh ways.

Thoughts.

Though the idea of innovation is not new to me, I think the importance of it in  branding strategy today outweighs the other four disciplines. The most important concept to take away from innovation is “when everybody zigs, zag.” The only way to think of new things and push the boundaries and think outside the box. The creation of ideas is no longer a systematic pattern like A–>B–>C–>D, but rather V–>H–>X–>J. I think it is important to realize that the Most Advanced Yet Acceptable (MAYA) solution is now the best one. The more advanced, the most creative. Audiences are tired of the logical and typical business strategies. We want something that is new and magical.

Nike

Nike is the world’s leading innovator in athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories. Their mission: to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you’re an athlete). From the creation of Nike to now, the brand has remained distinct, relevant, memorable, extendable, and has tremendous depth. Regardless of if you’re a professional athlete, a high school benchy, or the casual walker, Nike has traction in a variety of markets. Recently, FastCompany.com even considered Nike to be the most innovative brand of 2013. The company follows four rules that guide the company:

  1. To disrupt, you must go all-in.
  2. Anticipate a product’s evolution
  3. Direct your partners
  4. Feed Company Culture

To prove that Nike is an innovative brand, and that they follow these four company rules, they created the FuelBand Watch.

FuelBand

The FuelBand is an electronic bracelet that measures movements throughout the day, whether its tennis, jogging or walking. It has received great reviews from users for its elegant design and clean interface. It is easy to track activity with the simple color codes (red for inactive; green if you’ve achieved your daily goal). And there is one button used for scrolling how many calories you’ve burned and the number of steps you’ve taken. Nike also encourages users to share their data online further explaining how the company has transformed itself into a digital force. Breaking into a new market is difficult for any company to do, but Nike has done it seamlessly.

Implementation

Granted, Nike is a gigantic company with a lot of resources, so it may be easier for them to continue to break the boundaries and create something fresh. It may be easier for larger companies to take a lot of time on creating a new product because they have the resources to do so. However, regardless of the size of the company, they need to make sure that they truly think about what the audience wants and finding the most advanced and acceptable (MAYA) solution to those needs. However, I think start-up companies may have an advantage of being more innovative since they don’t have any expectations from loyal customers. Start-up companies have the ability to be the best innovators since they may be closer to the audience and understand their wants.

Small vs. Large Companies

But, regardless of the size of the company, the most important thing is to be concrete on your brands image and message. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers with various brand messages and products that all do the same thing. Stick to one thing and be great at it. By being creative and innovative, it will allow your company to have a better product design and a better business. Make sure you think of these seven things when considering a name for your product, service, or company:

  1. Distinctive
  2. Brief
  3. Appropriate
  4. Easy to spell and pronounce
  5. Likable
  6. Extendable
  7. Protectable

You’ll know when a good idea hits you because it will “scare the hell out of you.”

Sources:

The Brand Gap

FastCompany

Nike

Innovation Poster from flickr user Scraggy & Fluffy

FuelBand from Youtube user nike

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