Everyday dozens of start-ups are founded, hundreds of new ideas are uploaded to Kickstarter and thousands of business ideas are pitched by millennials to other millennials over a beer. New ideas fight for our attention. Everywhere. There is an abundance of new. Being new is not enough. Today, innovators need a new quality. They need to craft products that are not only useful but also noticed, spoken about, remembered and shared.
Here are five skills that we can learn from the communication discipline to develop innovative ideas stand out and stick.
1: Start with a tension.
To craft a contagious idea you need to start early. Start by communicating to your customers. Not to your R&D department. Visit real people, in their real lives and look for real tensions, insights and topics they get highly emotional about. The feelings you are going for are: anger, love, lust or a guilty conscience. You need to be authentic and a good communicator. Then people lift the curtain of polite normative bullshit and show you to problems that are highly emotional and personal. Ask questions like: What do you really love? What pisses you off? What is your biggest fear? What do you dream about? Only then will you uncover ideas like the panic button, underwater headphones or noise cancelling toilets.
2. Incorporate the values of your company.
People tend to share ideas of companies they really like and they really identify with. Therefore, you also need to ask yourself: What does your innovation say about your company, your convictions and your beliefs? Do you want to share your patents like Tesla does? Or include recyclable parts? Do you consciously decide to equip your product with a more expensive yet environmentally friendly material, because you believe that’s the right choice? Look at the values of your company. How do they transform into your product ideas? What services can you add to your product to make people proudly share your idea?
3. Add a killer feature.
Every time I get a link to a video where some dude shows Tesla’s INSANE MODE to his grandmother, pressing her into the seat like in a roller coaster, I respectfully nod towards the Tesla innovation team. What a genius feature and even more genius name. I’m sure the INSANE MODE brought Tesla more sales than anyone ever expected. Or take Snapchat’s highly addictive FACE LENSE feature. I personally know 20 people who downloaded the app just because of this gimmick. So, what killer feature, form or material can you add to your innovative product that will make it the most talked about innovation next year?
4. Giving your innovation a strong voice.
Today it is not enough that you speak for the product. Your product needs to speak for itself as well. Read the backside of any Innocent smoothie and you will find yourself in a conversation with a plastic bottle. Stickers on fruits in the supermarket scream EAT ME. Packaging is becoming more extroverted. Yogurts don’t just sit silently on a shelf. They make sassy comments about your figure. My posture tracker app asks me everyday how I feel today and reminds me to start the session. All jokes aside, to stick out from endless new products you need to give your products a distinct voice and unique personality. So, next time when you are about to design a product or a packaging, imagine it as a person and ask yourself: What character would it have? How would it greet you? How would it motivate you to buy or to use it?
5: Wrap everything into a great story.
In the age of idea abundance, a great idea needs a great story. Just take a look at the most successful Kickstarter ideas of the last year and the way in which they are presented. A great story is like a vehicle that takes the idea on a piggyback ride. It creates authenticity and a feeling of belonging through insider knowledge. A great story can give the innovation a face and a personality. It can change the success of a product drastically. Just like Joe Gebbia’s seat cushion ‘CritBuns’ that only got famous (and got sold) after he put the following story on the backside of the product:
So, do you have a charismatic founder, a great founding story or maybe just another interesting and relevant story? If yes, go, attach it to your amazing idea.
Done! Time to lean back. Your innovation is made to stick, passed around and championed.
Alexander Kovrigin is an innovation strategist and site manager of Grabarz JMP. Grabarz JMP is a creative innovation agency founded by the German communication powerhouse Grabarz & Partner.