Strategic Innovation Planning Re-Invents Categories

An innovative brand is one that is constantly striving to re-invent their industry. It does not get side tracked by tactical moves and knee jerk responses to competitive activity. Here are 3 types of innovation strategies that can all play a role in ensuring your brand is challenging the category norms:

1. Brand Expansion

Adding new flavours to an existing product line, offering a product in a new shape or adding new colours are all small innovations that can have a big impact on a brand. Most people don’t consider this to be very innovative however it can create new usage occasions or attract a new user group and really deliver. Often is the very simple, ‘doh moments’ as we call them, that an innovative brand exploits. This kind of innovation only has the ability to upset the norm when it is based on consumer insight and is not category or business led.

When Lego introduced pastel coloured building blocks, they suddenly opened up a new generation of girls.  Girls were suddenly able to identify with the building sets and didn’t have to share with their brothers. Did it change the focus of the brand? No, it simply expanded it to allow for the inclusion of more feminine colours. And in doing so created a whole new market for itself. 

lego set


2. Brand Enhancement

Along with increasing demand for the brand, your innovation efforts should also increase the public perception of the brand. This is a concept that businesses often struggle with. Some innovations are not about profit generation. Instead they are about brand equity. Innovations can challenge and change peoples brand perceptions. It’s all about investing in the future health of the brand. You may have identified an opportunity gap but your brand currently does not have the credibility to play there. Sometimes innovations are needed to pave the way to where you want to go.

MacDonald’s is a good example of this. They now have fruit and salads on their menus. They don’t sell much of it in comparison to their less healthy offerings and probably a lot of it goes in the bin, but the affect it has on the brand perception has been highly successful. 

McDonalds kids fruit bags

3. Brand Stretch

Creating a new category is the most cited definition of the innovative brand. It is the ultimate goal of many businesses as it tends to be the most profitable. However, it often takes considerable investment in consumer awareness and education. So the stakes are higher and it can take the business outside of its comfort zone e.g. having to deal with buyers with which there is no relationship. The introduction of Febreze by Proctor & Gamble was such a revolutionary way to eliminate odour from fabrics, they had to create a whole new category for it. It was so ahead of its time that they even had to tell new consumers where to find the product in-store.

Febreze advertsSo as you can see, to be a truly innovative brand you need to use innovation strategically. Consideration has to be given to which innovation strategy you want to employ and to what end. Your innovation manoeuvres should have the goal of constantly building brand equity and stretching the brand step-by-step into the hands of new consumers.