Fast Company

State of the Union: Out-Innovating?

Three words rang out: Out-innovate. Out-educate. Out-build. Were does that leave us?

Innovation is at the core of all brand success.

Sometimes it's the innovation in how something is done (e.g., FedEx using planes to get packages there overnight).

Sometimes it's how a product is presented to its audience (remember the intoxicatingly seductive rows of Krispy Kremes as they moved along the conveyor, glistening, warm and commanding the attention of your salivation glands?).

Sometimes, it's straight up innovation challenging the norm of "how it's always been." Like Dyson. Or facebook. Or the obvious choice, Apple.

Giants Will Roam the Earth
But, you don't have to be a giant company to achieve innovation. In fact, many of the innovations happened with small companies that later became giants. I've worked with many companies to overhaul their company brands and what they mean, using their investment wisely because they didn't have a deep pocket to fall back on if they missed the mark.

The good news is each of can innovate.

The bad news is too few of us have the persistence to follow it through and too easily accept the easy average of mediocrity settling for only a slight shift versus staying the course to arrive at something remarkable that is a game changer.

The answer to this is a simple one:

  • Ask yourself and your brand "What can we do that sets apart in a noticeable, experiential way for our customers?"
  • Don't immediately go for the easy way. Shoot for the stars.
  • Figure out some way how what you're doing, offering, delivering, providing, manufacturing can be made remarkable. Maybe it's the way you present your info. Maybe it's getting simpler. Maybe it's shortening the payoff (like Amazon's One Click. I'm addicted to this.)
  • If it doesn't excite you, it won't excite your customers.
  • If it is a mediocre effort, skip it.
  • Figure out an immediate next step you can take to close the gap on achieving that goal.
  • Rely on no-one or nothing else that is beyond your ability to control it (not micro-manage, but monitor its progress. For example, tax cuts are not something any of us can immediately impact).
  • Realize YOU can do it. Really.
  • Do it. (Really.)

Will You Be the Next Giant?
That's my two cents. Congress won't do it. Nobody will come to our aid except us. We will create great companies. Great brands. Great passions.

I think that giant footprint in the sand can be yours. Most likely it is.

We will be our own heroes. And our own giants. Let's start.

Read more State of the Union coverage

Recipient of over 320 national and international design and branding recognitions and awards, David Brier is an award-winning brand identity designer, author, and branding expert. His firm's work has won the admiration of peers and organizations but has, more importantly, helped clients jump-start their brands in new and innovative ways, even (and especially) when they've failed in previous brand makeovers. Most recently, David's celebrated work for Botanical Bakery was selected for the 2010 Communication Arts Design Annual and will be featured in "The Big Book of Packaging."

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