Innovation doesn’t just happen and you can’t rely only on the “natural innovators.” Here’s how foster a culture of innovation.
When you think of “innovators”, do you picture edgy, techno-savvy 26 year olds, huddled in a room over a bank of computers, working tirelessly hour after hour, eating lots of take out before finally reaching that Eureka moment? Well, the truth is, entrepreneurs don’t have the corner on the innovation market. It’s not pigeonholed to any specific industry and it certainly isn’t a job title.
Innovation is an attitude and should be an expectation in any business (established or new).
During my 5 years at Virgin as VP of Brand for North America, I learned that we all worked in innovation – regardless or department or job title. Our common goal was to make things better for the customer. This “innovation” could be seen in everything from creating the latest mobile app to inventing new ways to make the billing process smoother, to greeting people as they entered our offices.
By fostering a culture of innovation the Virgin experience has become many moments of magic that make all the difference to the customer.
Whether you are a start-up company, established small business owner or part of a larger corporation, here’s how you might bring innovation to your business:
1. Think outside the box.
The way your promise is delivered does matter. Packaging may be the first physically tangible contact your market has with you; use it as an opportunity to make a lasting impression. Whether this is a brown delivery box or the delivery of the airline experience. Virgin America took the same aircraft as other airlines and made it unique through mood lighting and leather seats. It brings the brand’s promise of a “Fresh Breath of Airline’ to life.
2. Give your market something new to do.
Show your market how to use your product in a new, innovative way and make it accessible. Bee Raw Honey offers customers the opportunity to sample several of their flavors of honey in “sample tasting flights” They’ve made it easier to experience their product by providing food pairing ideas, menu suggestions and recipes. Think about ways your brand may be able to offer itself up in a new way to make it easier for consumers to say “yes” to give you a try.
3. Surprise and delight your customer.
Make sure that all of the touch points with your customer set you apart. It could be a small line of copy on an invoice, or a greeting that loads as your website boots up or a more creative safety video like this one from Virgin Atlantic Make sure that all of the touch points with your customer set you apart. It could be a small line of copy on an invoice, or a greeting that loads as your website boots up or a more creative safety video like . Take 5 minutes out or your daily routine to stop and think about a potential mundane moment that could surprise and delight your customer and create a stronger brand connection.
About the Author
Julie Cottineau is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands. She was the VP of Brand at Richard Branson’s Virgin Group overseeing branding strategy for new and established Virgin companies in North America..
For more about how Julie is jump-starting brands all over the planet America, visit the BrandTwist website.