Innovation and Brand Coherence

Academic Focus: University of Queensland’s TIMC
August 1, 2011
Innovation in Private Equity
August 15, 2011

Innovation and Brand Coherence

A quick and effective way to sort ideas generated during an innovation workshop is to apply brand coherence. This means grouping ideas around relevant themes that support new or existing brands. Ideation sessions can overwhelm you with hundreds of opportunities. Teams struggle with evaluating and selecting the best ideas if they do not apply this simple step first. Here is a suggested way to do it.

A quick and effective way to sort ideas generated during an innovation workshop is to apply brand coherence.  This means grouping ideas around relevant themes that support new or existing brands.  Ideation sessions can overwhelm you with hundreds of opportunities.  Teams struggle with evaluating and selecting the best ideas if they do not apply this simple step first.  Here is a suggested way to do it.

1.  Create an Idea Form:  Before the workshop, make sure all participants understand the importance of capturing their ideas using a standard format.  Print a supply of blank forms such as this one, and tell participants that any idea generated must be captured (quickly) using the form instead of taking notes in their own notebooks or lab books.  Engineers in particular like to document ideas in their own lab books for patent filings.  Insist that they do not use workshop time for this. (Your IP lawyers might appreciate this, too.).  Make sure each idea form has a pre-printed number (in sequence) on it.  This will be useful later as you inventory your ideas.

IDEA FORM

NAME OF IDEA:

DESCRIPTION OF WHAT IT DOES:

BENEFITS (TO CUSTOMER OR COMPANY):

CHALLENGES:

NAME OF SUBMITTER:

2.  Identify Possible Themes:  After a round or two of ideation, start scanning the Idea Forms.  Look especially at the BENEFITS.  Take note of recurring themes that participants write about.  For example, you might notice themes such as “increased performance,” “better safety,” “reduced cost,” “reduced inventory,” “better channel management,” and so on.  Start making a list of these for later.

3.  Affinitize” Ideas Around Themes:  After ideation, have participants decide which of the possible themes are the most relevant to the business.  Then, have them assign each of the ideas (using the IDEA FORMS) to the brand theme that it best belongs to.  Once the ideas have been affinitized around a theme, assign each stack of ideas to subgroups.  Have them analyze the ideas.  They should take note of several things.  First, are there duplicated ideas?  This is likely to happen, so it makes sense to collapse  ideas into one.  Second, which of the ideas belong together within the same product or service?  Two or more ideas that work together in harmony form the basis of a potential development project, so these need to be identified.  Third, what ideas seem to be harmonious around a brand campaign?  Each subgroup should have an experienced marketer who can look at the ideas and foresee “the story” of how these ideas form a cohesive marketing message or campaign.  They are looking for coherence.  That is when a group of ideas that, take together, make the customer go “Wow!”.

Here is an example.  A group of MBA students used an innovation method to create innovations for a commercial airline.  The client told the students that they would welcome innovation in any area of their business.  This broad scope actually made the project harder, not easier, for the students.  After applying the method successfully to a variety of areas of the airline (gate area, baggage handling, in-flight services, etc), the students began to notice ideas relating to “family travel convenience.”  Seeking brand coherence, the students brought together all the ideas that resonated around helping families travel more conveniently regardless of the where it came from.  This set the stage for a new marketing campaign.