Identity Drives Innovation - 405 Magazine

Identity Drives Innovation

Focus on three tips to create and leverage a clear, strong identity that will, in turn, push forward innovation at your company.

Focus on three tips to create and leverage a clear, strong identity that will, in turn, push forward innovation at your company.

Innovation is not easy, but when we understand who we are, it becomes much simpler. I believe a company’s true identity is ultimately what drives effective innovation. And as fast as our world is changing, innovation is required for all of us.

First, let’s define “innovation” and “identity”:

in•nov•a•tion: a new method, idea, product, etc.

similar words: change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation

i•den•ti•ty: the characteristics determining what a business is

similar words: distinction, personality, uniqueness

Simply put, innovation is a new way of doing things in your business, and identity is what defines and differentiates your business. If you stop and think about it, this is an extremely powerful combination. Let’s just look at Apple as an example. Apple is known for having a great brand (i.e. a clear identity), and it is known as the leader in consumer technology (i.e. innovative products).

But Apple’s brand is not trying to please everyone. They know their audience, and it shapes their decisions around innovation. Do you remember the “I’m a Mac” ads from the mid 2000s? The ads show a man dressed in casual clothes (the Mac guy) and another man in a suit (the PC guy) to boldly let us know who they were making products for — and who they weren’t. This is why seemingly every product that Apple introduces is “on brand.” Identity drives innovation.

“When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” – Seth Godin

If you don’t know who you are or what you stand for, innovation is a guessing game. If you don’t know who your audience is or what problem you’re trying to solve, innovation is lost. Too many companies are confused about innovation because they are confused
about their own identity. So how does an organization leverage their identity to be a better, more innovative company? Here are three ways:

1. Define: 88% of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla, 2021).

It starts with authentically defining or, in some cases, redefining your brand’s identity. Every company should put in the work to identify what makes them, them. Identity is about distinction, personality and uniqueness. It’s okay to stand out. In fact, you might be in trouble if you don’t. Pro tip: It’s difficult to perform surgery on yourself, so consider pulling in outside professional help to guide your organization through this process.

2. Commit: 68% of businesses say brand consistency has contributed to revenue growths of 10% or more (Lucidpress, 2021).

Once you have clearly defined your brand, it’s time to put it front and center both internally and externally — make it known to all your audiences. This helps create accountability and consistency, and it fosters focused innovation. Any new ideas, methods or products that do not align with your clearly stated identity need to be either modified or tossed, but there’s no room for “sort of on brand” — it either is “on brand” or it isn’t. Pro tip: Consider how your commitments not only affect your corporate brand but also your employer brand. Your ability to attract and retain talent is likely your biggest asset.

3. Emote: 77% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that share the same values as they do (Havas Group, 2019).

Where we spend our money is personal, and this isn’t just with B2C but B2B as well. Apple sells to our emotions. Apple’s vision is to make the best products on Earth and to leave the world better than we found it. Apple gives us all the technical information on their products, but when they are at their best, they lead with how their products are going to make you more creative and how they are going to change your life. Communicate with emotion. Pro tip: Review your customer experience and journey through the lens
of making it as easy and convenient as a conversation with a friend —
friendships are personal.