Fortune favors the bold – but boldness is often easier said than done. Simply waiting for the future to happen to your company may seem like the easy way out, but truly successful brands take an active role in shaping it.
By Matti Lehto
In an increasingly crowded marketplace, only 1-3% of products, services, businesses, and organizations have a competitive advantage over similar brands. With so many brands vying for the attention of potential buyers, it can be difficult for businesses to differentiate themselves from others and capture the hearts of their target audience.
This may seem disheartening, but it also provides an opportunity for companies who are able to identify their unique competitive edge and find ways to stand out in a sea of competing brands. This can be done by recognizing where the gaps and opportunities in the market are and creating a strategy that leverages them in the best possible way.
Forge your own future
The future is often taken for granted, in the sense that many companies assume it will simply happen of its own accord. This kind of passive approach places fate in the driver’s seat, leaving any challenges and opportunities that may arise in the future up to luck and chance.
However, only brands that approach the future with the right mindset, utilizing innovation and creativity to pave their way, have real staying power in their field. These brands understand and accept that there are multiple possible futures. There is no one predetermined path – every brand has the power to shape its own future. Simply thinking about the future or acknowledging that it’s coming will not change anything: action needs to be taken in order to shape it.
Three approaches to future success
There are three ways to innovate for your company’s future success and stand out amid competition.
1. Innovation platforms
Innovation platforms help you identify areas with the best potential for new concepts that align with your goals. Innovation platforms help combine your customers’ needs with, for example, opportunities afforded by new technology. These platforms can be used to work on new concepts that utilize deep customer insight and emerging trends.
2. Innovation boot camp
If your company is serious about systematically speeding up innovation work, a bootcamp might be right for you. Innovation boot camps can be used to create startups within the company, for example. The key to a successful boot camp is designing the innovation program so that it supports your organization’s strategy and needs. Next, active internal communication and campaigning helps ensure people are engaged and eager to participate.
3. Innovation based on customer insight
This approach integrates customer-centric service and product development into the organization’s culture.
Customer-insight-based innovation always starts with the organization’s strategic goals and brand. Next, dive deep into your customers’ lives, expectations and motives, and combine that insight with the initial design drivers. With this approach, it’s crucial to go from the ideas stage to something concrete as quickly as possible, so you can validate your designs with customers and learn what works and what doesn’t.