The value of brilliant ideas is universally accepted in adland. But the creative idea shouldn’t wait for the advertising department. It should be designed into the product itself.
In a world that’s become highly sceptical of advertising, the importance of innovation for brand growth has never been greater. That’s why it’s surprising to find the corporate approach to innovation lacking some of the key ingredients proven to inspire those coveted breakthrough ideas. I have nothing against the robust research and strategy presentations that form the basis of this work, but the real opportunity for brands is to think about and manage innovation more like creative development.
As a former CPG brand marketer now working in this space, these are my suggestions for effective innovation concept development:
Creative Strategy. For brand communications, there’s little debate that a solid brief is the first step in soliciting strong creative ideas. But this brief-writing discipline is far less common when it comes to innovation. The challenge here is to succinctly define the whitespace and innovation guardrails for the brand in a way that will spark the greatest breadth of original concepts.
Open Ideation. Seeking as many ideas as possible at the top of the funnel helps to find the best ones and ultimately fill your innovation pipeline. Typically marketers will run brainstorm sessions with internal and external partners, however this approach can be quite limiting. At this stage the benefit of fresh, diverse perspectives and global influences cannot be overstated. Agency creatives are under-utilized in this area but there are no professionals more qualified for responding to a marketing challenge with novel solutions. Even more rarely seen is open-sourced creative ideation, aka crowdsourcing. What was once a fad has evolved into a dynamic landscape of different models, some of which are especially powerful in generating breakthrough innovation concepts.
Expert Curation. It’s always enlightening to see where and how far diverse thinking can stretch innovation for a brand. By garnering an abundance of ideas in response to a brief, you will notice various strategic territories emerge and see what resonates. It’s here that input from marketing and cross-functional teams becomes most valuable to assess and improve concepts for validation, before investing further resources. An important step at this point is to carefully refine each concept with compelling copy and visuals to best position them for initial testing.
Above all, innovation is a mindset. Creative thinking is obviously beneficial for the invention of new products and services, but it’s also worthwhile to rethink the process in which it can thrive.
Aaron Nemoy is the founder of Crowdiate, helping brands develop exceptional advertising and innovation ideas by opening up the process to a rich diversity of creative voices. With a disciplined approach to brief development, idea curation and development, Crowdiate conducts creative competitions through their private network of creative directors, copywriters, art directors and designers around the world. Current clients include RB, Hershey’s, Campbell’s and Pernod Ricard.