Innovation + Brand = 90% BS
The term “innovation” has caught up with the word “brand” in terms of how popular it is and how it is used anywhere, anytime and in any business situation or context. If up until recently, maybe a few years ago, everything was branded with the birth of a logo on a designer’s board, innovation is now everything. That includes what is in, near, on, underneath and above a brand.
The problem is that, more often than not, innovation has something to do with a brand only AT TIMES – I would venture to say that in 90% of cases it doesn’t. Let me explain. There is a glaring contradiction between the two terms. Let’s take it slowly:
Innovation = (cf. The Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language) Novelty, change, transformation.
Brand = (Interbrand Brand Glossary) “The feeling somebody has about a product or service that goes beyond its tangible properties”.
For a product to become a brand, it must act constantly, homogeneously and coherently in all its forms of presentation / manifestation / communication. Therefore – I conclude – that the brand is, or rather tends to be, one of the most conservative intangible entities on the planet, after the belief in various gods. The reasoning behind the existence of a brand consists of constants and homogeneity, and here I find NO room for innovation. Of course, when you invent a product or service and you want to introduce it to the market, then yes, you innovate, you try to differentiate yourself, you struggle to bring about novelty. It’s better to come up with something that nobody thought about, something no one has yet.
Innovation and novelty usually intervene in the DNA of the product / service, where we find its tangible qualities and properties. Only after come the values and attributes, those intangible properties that all of us working in the branding industry hope to be able to attach as a definition of the product / service and as a consequence of the brand.
So, if the purpose of brands is to be consistent, why is innovation so associated with them, during their constant and homogeneous life? Innovation is DISRUPTIVE and we apply it when we want change, like in rebranding, in the simplest of cases. But I mean rebranding, as we understand it in the truest sense, not a beautiful change of logo, some kind of new communication means or modernisation of packaging. Rebranding, as in change (yes, it starts to look like the meaning of INNOVATION) regarding the product / service and its attributes and values.
If Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Ursus, Hochland, Joe, Borsec or Zippo kept innovating – that is, they would RENEW, CHANGE or PRETEND – would people still buy their products every day, in Romania and everywhere on the globe? Consumers want consistency, and love or adopt products / services – turning them into brands – when they prove to be constant, homogeneous, consistent.
Brand consultants and designers can indeed participate in the product / service and brand innovation processes. Their creative, non-linear thinking and often prone to disbelief attitudes are extremely useful for a management that wants to induce renewal, change and / or transformation.