Innovation Leadership: The marketer’s role in driving innovation

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When it comes to innovation, you will likely work with a product innovation team, who are peers that could be filled with other marketers, scientists, designers, or technology experts. Brand leaders should exhibit influence, especially as many in product development believe they design things that you will market. I believe innovation should be guided by the brand, not randomly created and forced onto the brand.


It is better to make products that consumers want rather than make consumers want what you make

As part of your consumer knowledge-gathering, identify consumer need states that are not currently being addressed by competitors. Use these need states to kickstart the innovation process, using brainstorming to build a robust pipeline of ideas. 

From the best innovation ideas, develop concepts to test with consumers, measuring new ideas on uniqueness, motivation to purchase, ownability, potential size, and strategic fit with the brand. Listen to consumer feedback to optimize, adjust, or pivot the learning into new ideas. 

innovation process
  • Product extensions: Identify new consumer need states that your brand can easily handle. Use to broaden your portfolio to help neutralize competitive advantages or use to gain share of shelf. Help to build continuous news that keeps brand momentum going with new benefits, flavors, and sizes.
  • Product improvements: Identify where you are losing consumers; help isolate flaws and gaps in your brand that need fixing so that your brand moves ahead or catches up to competitors.
  • New formats: Stretch the brand into new subcategories/adjacencies or parts of the value chain. New formats help get your brand into new parts of the store, new distribution channels or new usage occasions with consumers.
  • Brand stretching: Take the assets of the brand and move into new business opportunities—bringing your loyal user base and brand reputation.
  • Game-changing technology: R&D driven invention needs to be matched up to reconfigure the invention to fit the needs of the consumer.
  • Blue ocean exploratory areas: These are completely exploratory ideas that combine your technical capabilities, matched to pure unexplored consumer need states to create game-changing launches that move your brand into fully protected blue ocean–type competitive positions. 
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Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management

Innovation moves ideas to the marketplace

To build an innovation pipeline, push the best ideas through concept refinement, market testing, and a decision process with management. Approvals include execution plan and milestones from production to launch. Drive a robust pipeline, with a balance of lower risk launches and higher risk exploratory ideas. Before approving, understand the forecast, budgets, and profitability expectations.

Once you are ready to go, create a go-to-market launch plan with project management, including the brand name, logos, packaging, production, and channels. Build marketing support, which will include advertising, launch presentations, sales, and retail plans.

The marketer's experience of leading the innovation

You will gain an amazing overall experience by launching a new brand from scratch. It requires you to engage every marketing skill and ideal leader behavior. You will build up the brand positioning to create concepts, build the product, set up operations, come up with the name, design the logo, determine forecast, sell to retailers, ship, create advertising, displays, promotions, and analyze the performance. 

You will learn a lot by participating in the development and testing of concepts. It is a great experience to participate in the market research processes to uncover consumer need states and turning those into new concepts. You learn how to listen at a concept test to see how to optimize a concept that can be moved forward into a recommendation for launch.

As you move up, your experience with innovation will gain more complexity

Early on in your career, you will replicate a lot of the skills through the rollout of new formats or line extensions, a simpler and safer form of innovation. It is a great experience to lead a launch team with the conflicting priorities of R&D, sales, agencies, and supply chain.
A new level of complexity is the launch of a new product as part of an established brand. This experience is similar to the pool-out of a new ad within an established campaign. It’s a great experience in dealing with the unknowns and uncertainty. You will require a buy-in from senior management, you will present a launch plan to your sales team, and then help sell to channel customers.

The most challenging innovation is the launch of a new brand, which has the opportunity for higher revenue but more uncertainty and risk. You will feel more pressure, which you will learn to deal with. You will experience the most senior management oversight that you will need to manage.

Take all the learning from your experience to lead the innovation process, with a stage-gate process that includes regular brainstorming, consistent stages of approval, and oversight on decisions.

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand.

  • To start, we will challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy.
  • Then, we take you through our process for defining your brand positioning. We will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see you can differentiate your brand. And, we use examples of brand positioning statements to bring the learning to life.
  • Next, we will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow. Make sure all stakeholders know precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success.
  • Moreover, we will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work.
  • Finally, you will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review.

Above all, over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management.

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Our Brand Management Mini MBA is a virtual brand training certificate program designed for ambitious marketers in the real world. Upon completion, you will earn a certificate that will solidify your resume and LinkedIn profile.

  • Learn about strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plans, advertising decisions, and marketing analytics. We provide 36 training videos that allow you to learn at your own pace, whether you want to complete them in one week or one year. 
  • We provide reading from our bestselling Beloved Brands playbook, a Brand Management workbook to try out each of the exercises, and a download of our Brand Toolkit with all the PowerPoint slides you can use for your presentations.
  • Learn from Graham Robertson, a former VP of Marketing, who brings a wealth of real-world brand management experience from Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Coke, and Pfizer. For over a decade, Graham has been a brand advisor to the NFL Players Association, Jack Links, Shell, Reebok, Honda, The Mayo Clinic, Miller beer, and Pfizer.
  • Our Brand Management Mini MBA certificate program gives you access to world-class brand training, which is usually reserved for those working at major corporations. While this type of program would typically cost thousands of dollars, you can get all the content and tools for $750 USD. 
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