The key role of the brand in disruptive innovation: What we learned at Brandworks 2015

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In May of 2015, we had the great pleasure of attending the amazing Brandworks University conference here in Madison, WI. It’s an annual event hosted by our local agency partner Lindsay, Stone & Briggs focused on bringing marketing and creative professionals information about the latest market trends. This year, we learned about innovative disruption and the brand.

The speakers were stellar! Really. It’s been awhile since I’ve been floored by so many professional presenters. They were proven knowledge bases just waiting to be tapped, and it was exhilarating to hear their stories.

I had great conversations and great learnings, so here are 14 key things I wanted to share with those of you who weren’t able to attend:

1. Being disruptive means accepting the idea of “yes, and”… not “yes, but.” You need to acknowledge an idea and build on it until it lives. It won’t be perfect right from the start.

2. Some characteristics of disruptive innovators: Curiosity, willingness to fail, resilience, lack of fear, risk-taking, determination, confidence, a little nutty, impatient, resourceful, determined, non-conformist, passionate, visionary.

3. Disrupt yourself before others disrupt you.

  • Xerox changed their whole business model to meet a changing competitive landscape
  • iTunes innovations vs. Spotify and Pandora innovations

4. Competencies that increase your chances of successfully fighting disruptive threats:

  • Recognize when you’re vulnerable to disruption.
  • Know which innovations will give you redemptive advantage and how to shepherd them.
  • Know how to position your brand as something timeless and “platformable” for future marketing efficiencies.
  • Know how to identify and optimize a target’s path to purchase.
  • Know the message and strategies that drive margin, profits, and brand preference vs. short-term sales and volume.
  • Know how to successfully launch and scale adoption of an innovation.
  • Know how to break and create habits for brand advantage.
  • Know how to do content marketing effectively.
  • Know how to speed things up.
  • Know how to inspire and persuade people quickly.
  • Know how to lead in a disruptive world.

5. Don’t “nichify”! Nichification means getting boxed into your own thinking.

Brandworks Future

6. It’s good to know your target audience’s path to purchase, but even better to change the reason why someone would buy something (this is the purchasing algorithm).

  • Think Uber

7. If a product launch is before its time, it’s hard to get people on board.

  • Consider the volume of discussion (hype) vs. the volume of adoption (use). There can be much to say about a product, but little use.
  • Google Glass - lots of hype around them, but what is the motivation to change your behavior and purchase/use the product?

8. A competitive advantage is essential. You have to work to keep it.

  • Competitive advantage is something you own that is durable, year over year
  • Extend your advantage instead of assuming it will prevail year over year if you don’t change

9. People want reliability (predictions without proof) and validity (proof - showing the return). Be prepared to show both.

10. To have a more innovative culture, start asking different questions.

  • Measure what you’re learning, not just what you’re earning in $$

Brandworks Learn

11. Innovation is a discipline.

  • Borders bookstore, Kodak, Blackberry, Blockbuster: They were not killed by technology, but by the blur between personal and professional borders. Earlier, these were separate functions; now we don’t need different devices for work and our personal lives. We can have one for both. iPhone vs. the Blackberry.
  • Borrow innovation where you get inspired. It doesn’t have to be new. 
  • Think elasticity and extensibility.
  • Crowdsource input from your users/customers. Invite them in and they’re more likely to stay.
  • Never look at an idea in isolation. Find your wind tunnel! (Per the Wright brothers’ real-life method of testing the airplane.)

12. You have to cross the “brand chasm” in order to get product adoption.

  • Between early market and late market is the brand chasm (a lull)

13. The “Apple-effect” refers to design-led, design-focused companies, like Apple, Barneys New York, Shinola, and Tiffany & Co. 

  • These companies are gaining popularity because they lead with the brand experience.

Brandworks Experience

14. To get a product to the tipping point, you must engage, acquire, monetize, and enlist.

  • The brand plays a key role in each of these takeaways – from product positioning to building awareness, to telling your story, and being a compass for innovation. Remember, if you don’t have any new innovations to talk about, you can always talk about the brand!

To learn more about the important relationship between the brand and digital asset management, check out this blog post or contact us at Widen!

Topics: Events

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