Innovation. Everyone wants it. But what is it? Where does it come from? What’s the best way to shape a culture of innovation? What best aligns, inspires, and motivates people to innovate? What role could a new brand strategy play in transforming your organization into an innovative powerhouse?
The new innovation
As the leading global consulting firm PWC points out,
“It’s no longer just a case of pushing products out of labs but, rather, of creating value for customers by personalizing the entire customer experience. So, forging an organizational culture that promotes innovation, getting closer to customers to find out what they really want, and directing your innovation accordingly, is more important than ever.”
We would suggest some refinements to this idea:
1. “Forging a meaningful organizational culture that promotes purpose-driven innovation”
2. “Getting closer to customers to find out how to improve their well-being”
Meaningful organization culture/purpose-led innovation
People are inspired and motivated to innovate when they embrace a meaningful ideal. That is, a purpose to what they are trying to achieve. A purpose with which they can identify. A purpose that permeates the organization. A purpose that isn’t purely about profits, but is mostly about improving the well-being of customers, society and the planet. A purpose-beyond-profit elevates the spirits and imagination of people across the organization. It encourages collaboration, prompts exploration, and triggers new thinking.
Improving the well-being of your customers
By moving the focus from the finite needs of the company to the often intangible and unmet needs of people, purpose-led innovation changes the way companies approach the issues and opportunities of innovation. As PWC puts is,
“The most innovative companies are creating new business models and combining related products and services to form new solutions, as well as developing new products and services. In fact, they don’t think in terms of products and services so much as outcomes, because they recognize that products and services are simply a means to an end.”
By focusing on outcomes, rather than outputs, innovation flourishes
When your employees are thinking in a focused way about the positive outcomes that will delight, fulfill, and gratify customers, they work into new, richer, more relevant, and more compelling solutions that support and extend the company’s purposeful brand promise. Outcome-based innovation comes through an empathetic understanding of the customer’s world. This brings us back the role of culture in successful innovation.
To be truly innovative, corporate cultures need to embrace the idea of “walking in another’s shoes” to gain perspective and insight. The first, and hardest step, in all this, is helping people step out of their own shoes first. This is where leadership comes in. When a company is consistently and deliberately led in an empathetic fashion from top to bottom, the benefits of empathy are embedded into the culture.
What has brand strategy got to do with innovation?
There are many moving bits and pieces to your organization that often run independently of each other. As such, innovation suffers from silo thinking, developing processes that aren’t fully joined-up. But one aspect of your company can be engineered to flow across all your silos and to create a new and far more aligned organization. It is your brand.
Carefully designed and executed, a brand strategy can be the vehicle that spreads new energy and purpose across your organization. It can reshape your culture to ensure it embraces empathy, so everyone is thinking of the same outcomes, regardless of which silo they inhabit. It can create a more level playing field on which conversations and collaboration are fueled by a shared belief.
Redefine your brand. Grab onto a compelling and purposeful promise. Shift your culture toward empathy and a focus on outcomes. Lead your company forward through purpose-led innovation.
To read more on Purpose Beyond Profit: Why Every CEO Should Pursue a Purpose Beyond Profit
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco branding agency.