Where should you be looking for innovation inspiration?
9 Oct 2017

Where should you be looking for innovation inspiration?

Who should be your ‘business model heroes’?  MIT Technology Review have produced a list of the 50 smartest companies in 2017 – based on their combination of innovative technology with an effective business model.  18 are in Silicon Valley, but the rest might surprise you.

If you’re planning to run an innovation workshop and want a ‘bang up to date’ list of inspiring businesses to stretch innovation thinking to the limit.  Then this is probably your go-to listing!

Compelling claims add consumer-value:  Get your brand super-fit!
9 Oct 2017

Compelling claims add consumer-value: Get your brand super-fit!

Consumers love brands, but sometimes a ‘positive emotional bond’ just isn’t enough.

When you’re faced with aggressive competitors who are happy to use price to attack you, or the economy forces consumers to start cutting back, even the strongest brands need compelling justifications of their added-value.

You need to get your brand super-fit!

Here we share just a few brilliant, best-practice examples of how brands can reinforce their added-value and justify continued purchase, even when times are tough …

1: Make money no object

Help consumers understand that some things in life are too precious for the sake of saving pennies.

L’Oreals – ‘because you’re worth it’ is the epitome of this strategy, as is J&Js ‘No More Tears’ promise.

2: Change the unit of measure

Change consumers’ focus from the price of each unit – to the cost per use.

Fairy washing up liquid has long promised consumers that it costs less per use – remembers those lines of plates?  Each pack still features the claim ‘lasts 50% longer than the next best selling brand.’

3: Emphasise the longevity

Focus consumers on how long your product lasts

Comfort offers ‘14 days of freshness, and fabulous softness from just one cap.’ And Lenor Unstoppables offers ‘12 weeks of boosted freshness.’

4: Be bold

Use price to demonstrate quality and superiority

‘Reassuringly expensive’ claimed Stella.  Waitrose proudly declared ‘Everyone deserves quality food.’

5: Change the reference set

Benchmark against more expensive options

John Frieda Precision Foam Colour claims ‘Salon quality hair colour has found a new home. Yours.’

6: Enhance worth 

Drive the value perception with the language you use.

Patek Philippe confidently state that ‘You never actually own a Patek Philippe.  You merely care for it until the time comes for you to hand it on to the next generation.’

7: Trade off calculations

Offset the price with savings elsewhere.

Persil promises ‘Unbeatable results even in 30 minutes’ so consumers can save time and money.

8: Minimise risk

Offer a money back guarantee

Listerine and Finish both offer money back guarantees if consumers are not completely satisfied.

Generate compelling claims …

Compelling claims can be the key to continued brand success – in the face of both price-driven competitors and economic challenges!

So how can your brand use consumer communication to reframe value perceptions?

We’ve already delivered a number of highly successful workshop and brand-fitness programmes for high profile brands like Heinz and Mars.  We’d love to share our learnings and see if we can help you add-value by getting your own brands super-fit

If you would like us to put our heads together and come up with the perfect solution for you – give us a shout.   www.brand-development.com

Five Agile Techniques to Accelerate Your Innovation Without Sacrificing Rigour
2 Oct 2017

Five Agile Techniques to Accelerate Your Innovation Without Sacrificing Rigour

Why do so many true market breakthroughs come from small businesses?

  • Partly because they’re more iconoclastic about category rules
  • Partly because they are more willing to experiment
  • Partly because they don’t have big business’s attitude to risk eradication
  • Partly because they have fewer processes to slow them down
  • Partly because they tend to launch fast … and worry about optimising their ideas later on!

In summary, because they are a lot more Agile!

Five Agile Innovation Techniques that will help you stimulate experimentation, boost collaboration & accelerate delivery

.. without sacrificing rigour

Behaviour 1: Be More Iconoclastic.

Gathering insights into how the market you intend to innovate works is sensible. But there’s a danger that the act of codifying the “rules” makes you more likely to play by them!

Our REWIND & REFRAME incubators are designed to revisit everything you’ve learned & re-craft it as inspiring start-points for creative thinking.


Behaviour 2: Experiment More.

Never assume there’s a single answer. There are many ways of solving every consumer challenge. The trick is to spot the most promising!

Our THINKSHOP insight-driven idea-generators are designed to stretch the team’s creativity and generate lots of starter-ideas against every challenge


Behaviour 3: Embrace Risk.

We aren’t suggesting you start taking crazy risks, just stop trying to eradicate all risk!

Our CONSUMER CO-CREATORS use the combined brain-power of client-experts and super-consumers to thoroughly interrogate every idea – improving the strongest and reworking weaker ones – to make every idea as good as it can possibly be


Behaviour 4: Accelerate your Processes.

Don’t try to skip Stage-Gates, just pass through them more quickly!

Our RAPID RECYCLING techniques are designed to really focus your team’s attention on the challenge in hand – and by using an Optimised Fast-Track approach, make the maximum progress in the shortest time – without sacrificing rigour


Behaviour 5: Prepare to Iterate.

Fortune favours the fleet of foot. Rather than waiting until everything is 100% perfect, test your concepts as early as you can, aim to be one of the first into the market & then keep improving your offering to stay ahead of your competition!

ONLINE CONCEPT-SCREENING tools can make this happen for a fraction of the cost & time taken by more conventional solutions.


Discover Agile

Speed to market and agility have become key mantras for the leading innovators

The highly-experienced Brand Development team can help you deliver huge increases in innovation agility and efficiency – without sacrificing consumer insight, creativity or best practices

Our planning and creative teams are on standby to help you apply these techniques to your own challenges …

If you’d like to know more about our thinking on agile innovation, or you have a pressing concept optimisation challenge – why not get in touch to find out how we can help you generate cool ideas and winning concepts?

Three powerful co-creation techniques to craft compelling innovation concepts
28 Sep 2017

Three powerful co-creation techniques to craft compelling innovation concepts

You’ve got a great idea.

So, all you need to do is race straight to quant research.  Right?


More potentially brilliant ideas die in quant testing than anywhere else.

When success or failure can turn on the choice of a word, or an image … concept co-creation allows innovators to maximise their probability of success.

We’ve helped our clients:

  • Achieve some of the highest innovation concept scores they’ve ever achieved
  • Bring concepts back from the dead so they achieve ‘all-green’ traffic-light scores
  • Deliver 7 winning NPD concepts out 15 concept-screened
  • And score a 93% innovation concept viability rating in a Bases SnapShot!

We’ve done this by intelligent use of co-creation.

Yes it costs money, yes it takes time (but not a lot) and yes it demands your involvement (but less than you’d think).  But it often makes the difference between an innovation project failure … and a huge career success!

Our creative catalysts will work with you and a small team of carefully selected ‘super-consumers’ to pinpoint the motivating benefits and compelling RTBs that’ll transform your idea … into a concept that’ll perform brilliantly in Quant.

These three approaches to consumer concept co-creation could be just what you need to craft your potentially brilliant idea into a winning concept.


Consumer Concept Recycling

Concept Rapid-Recycling is a ‘smart’ adaptation of classic consumer groups.  Rather than executing multiple groups (and then subsequently discovering you got something minor wrong at the debrief) they integrate team re-work into the fast track process.

Typically, after two groups, the observing client & agency team will hot-debrief their learning and creatively explore how the concepts should be evolved to:

  • Reinforce the positives
  • Fix any negatives and
  • Add stimulus to fill any gaps or spot opportunities uncovered

The evolved concepts are then re-evaluated by subsequent groups – with opportunities for the client & agency team to refine and polish the concepts during every break.

Application:  Rapid-Recycling is brilliant for optimising and perfecting both written concepts and product prototypes


Consumer Concept Incubation

Concept Incubation is far more hands-on!  It engages the super-consumers in the creative process itself.

During every Incubator session, the super-consumers:

  • Physically deconstruct each of your concepts
  • Identify what works and doesn’t
  • Before reconstructing their own personal, ideal concept using your draft & the building-blocks of additional raw-stimulus provided

Investing in just a few Consumer Concept Incubators, can help you spot the strengths of your starter-ideas and craft them into compelling concepts … all within a couple of days.

Application:  Concept Incubators are ideal for early-stage creation of robust written and visual concepts.  It’s a highly visual process, so works brilliantly across diverse geographical and cultural locations.


Online Consumer Concept Incubation

Online Incubation harnesses the power of internet ethnography and online groups to get consumers working both individually and as homogeneous mini-clusters to:

  • Generate insight banks
  • Create image and word banks
  • Analyse and deconstruct concepts
  • Reinvent and polish concepts to make them ‘their own’

Online co-creators have the huge advantage that the stimulus gathering and concept crafting can be sequenced over 3-5 days, and client / agency team can interact and collaborate with consumers 24 hours a day from a wide range of geographical locations.

Application:  Online Incubation is ideal for early-stage creation of written and visual concepts, but also allows for them to be refined and recycled across a number of iterations! 

We love consumer-driven concept co-creation.  It adds a powerful weapon into every innovators’ armoury.

Our planning and creative teams are on standby to help you apply these techniques to your own concept challenges …

If you’d like to know more about our thinking on crafting the optimum concept, or you have a pressing concept optimisation challenge – why not get in touch to find out how we can help you turn your cool ideas into winning concepts?

Five tips for crafting super-successful innovation concepts
18 Sep 2017

Five tips for crafting super-successful innovation concepts

We’ve helped clients deliver some of the highest innovation concept scores they’d achieved; clients deliver 7 winning NPD concepts out 15 concept screened and clients deliver a 93% innovation concept viability score in a Bases SnapShot!

We don’t deliver results like this by accident …

We’ve identified five factors that seem to separate good great innovation concepts from the rest:

Insights:  Make sure your insight really is an insight.  Too many are in fact just vague ‘observations’. Actionable insights contain both an element of ‘truth’ and a ‘disconnect’.  The insights in our concepts are crafted to maximise their relevance to your target consumer.

Benefits:  Great concepts tap into your consumers’ fundamental functional & emotional drivers.  The best offer rewards and deliver meaningful benefits both emotionally and functionally.  We craft concepts that unlock these differentiating benefits and maximise consumer desire.

Claims & RTBs:  Compelling claims and credible reasons-to-believe are the foundations of a great concept.  One of the secrets of a winner – is to be selective and make sure they are in 100% alignment with the insight and benefit.  Too few truly are!

Brevity and Visuality: 150 words is a good target – and pictures really do speak thousands of words.  Resist the urge to include every claim and every benefit in every concept.

Co-Creation:   Our secret weapon is co-creation.  By working with super-consumers we can fine-tune ideas, words and pictures to build your cool ideas into winning concepts!

Our planners, ideators and creatives have developed a powerful bank of Agile Concepting Tools that have already helped many clients turn good ideas into great concepts – and winning new product launches.

If you’d like to know more about our thinking on creating the perfect concept, or have a pressing concept creation challenge – why not get in touch to find out how we might help you turn your cool ideas into winning concepts?

6 Tips for running successful Innovation workshops
13 Sep 2017

6 Tips for running successful Innovation workshops

When you’re challenged to come up with a pipeline full of new product ideas, there’s nothing more terrifying than a blank sheet of paper!

But a creative ideation workshop is a big commitment in time and budget.  So, it’s important to ensure you make the most of your investment and have a productive day.

Here are our top tips for a productive and enjoyable day.

1: The power of lightness.

Just as plants need light to grow a productive workshop needs a venue that is light, airy and spacious to get the most out of your team.  Choose a venue carefully.  A good light & airy space will inspire, motivate and keep your teams’ attention all day.  A dark and stuffy room will kill creativity and almost guarantee your day is wasted.

2: Define your objective clearly

A badly phrased question never receives a good answer!  The same is true with workshop objectives.  If your question is clear, precise, ‘open’ and measurable you are well on your way to success.  If your objective isn’t clear you will either spend the whole day debating what it should be, or worse still, with the team floundering not knowing what they should be delivering!

3: A well-structured agenda, with a little bit of flex

A well-structured agenda does many things.  It forces the facilitation team to think deeply about the workshop and what they need to achieve.  It gives the attendees confidence in the plan for the day ahead.  And it allows for crucial time keeping.  However, a well-planned agenda should be allowed to flex to allow great thoughts to be pursued and ensure valuable conversations are not stopped pre-emptively.

4: The right team

Once a clear objective has been set for a workshop, an appropriate team can be selected.  The team should be tailored to the objective.  The number of attendees is important.  Too few and its likely nothing will happen and too many people and you risk death by indecision.  Cross-functionality is important too.  Key functions should be represented from the beginning to stop anyone killing the idea dead at later feasibility stages.

5: Stimulating stimulus

Great ideas don’t just appear out of thin air.  They come from carefully chosen, fresh and inspiring stimulus.  This can come in many forms, but some of the best we’ve used have been team downloads from in-home consumer immersions, expert speakers and real-life consumers in the workshop.

6: Encourage discussion

Once your fresh & inspiring stimulus has been used to disrupt your delegates’ preconceptions,  the trick is to get them chatting, exchanging ideas and sparking ideas off each other.  This idea exchange is often the most productive part of any workshop.  They key is to use ‘smart’ techniques like: Think, Pair & Share to give form to ideas, capture them and bring them into the public domain.

Harness the power of innovation workshops

It’s a real challenge to run your own innovation workshop, so if you’d like a little help, we’re on standby to provide it

Our experienced team of planners and strategists will not just help you analyse your challenge – but also plan the perfect programme to deliver the incisive and actionable workshop you need!

 Why not discover how workshops can help you shape and stimulate your innovation process – just drop us a line, give us a call, or contact one of the team via LinkedIn.  We’d love to talk you through your options!




Get your brand’s strategic essence right and great innovation will follow!
12 Sep 2017

Get your brand’s strategic essence right and great innovation will follow!

Great strategy builds a brand’s right to succeed over time.

The key is to identify your brand’s ‘Truths’ …

Then, harness them to sharpen its competitive advantage … and use them as springboards for successful innovation

These five ‘tips’ will help ensure you end up with a brand strategy that will enable and empower you … rather than constrain and frustrate!

1: Gather Multi-Dimensional Insights

Work closely with your cross-functional business team, your consumers and even your retail customers to understand how your brand fits into their lives, what role it plays and how it might be more or less valuable than all the potential alternatives.  The trick is to be ‘open minded’ and remember the brand belongs to everyone!

If this feels daunting – we can help!

2:  Psycho-analyse’ Your Brand

Dig deep, go beyond the obvious.  Seek out, not just the functional attributes that define your brand, but also the emotional benefits it offers.  Explore how the brand makes everyone that interacts with it ‘feel’.  This rich multidimensional ‘patchwork’ is the world your brand inhabits.

3: Be Harsh

Now, use ‘trade-off’ tools and ‘last-man-standing’ techniques to strip away the complexity & clutter to pinpoint the motivating & differentiating Brand Truths that sit at its heart.  This can be the hardest part, as no-one ever wants to let anything go.  The trick is to maintain an external, comparative focus – if an element doesn’t explain why a consumer would choose you over another alternative – ditch it!

4: Seek Logical Consistency

There are lots of brand-framework tools out there: pyramids, keys, onions, etc.  Each have their own benefits.  In some ways it doesn’t matter which you choose – as long as you’re incredibly disciplined and keep focusing only on those elements that define and differentiate your brand from the alternatives.

We’re huge fans of the ‘brand pyramid’.  It forces the team to consider how each of the brand’s attributes empower functional and/or emotional benefits to deliver against unsatisfied consumer needs.  It is super-logical and forces the team to be really rigorous!  In this way you can identify a 100% rational & logical Brand Truth.

A great brand-framework will help you crystallise the brand’s vision and set its mission in a way that will guide and inspire brand activation & innovation for decades to come.

5: Use It!

There’s nothing worse than investing time and budget into creation or renovation of a brand-framework and then just filing it away.  You’ve got to test it, challenge it and use it!

Set up a brainstorming workshop that uses the brand-framework as a creative springboard to explore how targeting, storytelling, channel strategy and innovation might be inspired and shaped.

It should be an inspiring and empowering experience!

What’s next?

We’ve created focused and successful innovative strategies for clients as diverse as: Astra Zeneca, Heinz, Nespresso, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever.  We’d love to help you do it too!

If you’ve got a brand strategy challenge where we could contribute – why not get in touch with one of our team …

Fresh Approaches to Unlocking Innovation Insights
8 Sep 2017

Fresh Approaches to Unlocking Innovation Insights

Don’t kick-off without a Rewind

We passionately believe the first stage in every insight journey  … should be a trip into your archives!

Before you start investing money gathering additional learnings, we’d always advocate a careful ‘rewind’ of your existing research.  After all, fresh eyes like ours, will often spot invaluable clues hidden in the knowledge you already hold.

Our Rewind process carefully reviews your existing research to extract relevant clues, analyse patterns and summarise learnings  … then seeks to re-present it in inspiring and provocative ways that stimulate your team’s thinking!

Exploit the message in Big Data

Spotting patterns in the behavioural data you can access, and transactional data you already hold, is becoming an increasingly powerful tool in the innovators’ armoury.  However, the real challenge is all too often ‘cutting through the noise’ to reveal the clean data that allows you to spot meaningful patterns.

By working with the right partners we have found it possible to not just unlock the clues that can be gathered by tracking consumer search terms, but also spot ways of tying these into creatively empowering segmentations.

The trick we’ve learned is to view all data as tools designed to inspire imagination and stimulate creative thinking – not as a solution in its own right.  We’ve got a proven track record of unlocking the power of big data … to generate fresh ideas.  Why not find out more?

Ethnography: the power of observation

Online research tools, like digital diaries and vlogs, have made it possible to gain insights into your consumers’ everyday lives and literally track their behaviour as it happens.

Innovations like Video Glasses, inspired by Google Glass and evolved by the likes of Snap Inc, have put real-time observation into the hands of every project team.  Small-scale consumer observation programmes can now generate the most incredibly powerful insights.

Our ethnography programmes are designed to get you and your team a glimpse into your consumers ‘everyday lives’.  That way, we go far beyond reportage and start generating dynamic observational-insights that inspire fresh strategies and inspired thinking.

Go on Safari!

Whilst we love Online Ethnography for its ability to remove the vagaries of the respondent’s memory.

The single most powerful insight gathering tool remains the one-on-one depth interview conducted in the ‘place of consumption’.  We’ve done them in homes, in offices, in bars.  We love the ability to build up trust and conduct the kind of deep-dive interviews that strip away pretensions and defences, to really expose consumers’ true hopes, fears and motivations about brand choice and product usage.

Unlike the group environment, the ‘in-use’ environment gives insight gatherers unrivalled access to consumers’ kitchens, bathrooms, wardrobes – everywhere they need to go to validate claims, challenge assertions, and really start to uncover the kind of power-clues that fire the innovation process

Why not discover how our face-to-face programmes get you and your team right ‘inside your consumers’ head’ … to generate the kind of dynamic consumer-empathy that inspires breakthrough concepts and strategies!

Harnessing Super-Consumer Conflict Groups

Whilst in some ways the classic ‘consumer group’ is our least favourite insight-gathering tool, it can still have a powerful place in your insight armoury … when imaginatively used.

Super-Consumer Mini-Groups executed with consumers of above average intellect, communication skills and creativity can be harnessed as powerful insight-gathering tools – as long as their full power is unlocked by encouraging dissent or even downright conflict!

Turning insights into Creative Springboards

Insight gathering is only one small part of the equation.

In fact, we’ve encountered quite a few clients who are actually more constrained by the number of insights they’ve gathered, rather than empowered and inspired by the ones they’ve unlocked.

That’s where our Insight Activation workshops come into their own.

A well-run Activation Workshop goes way beyond helping your team work out which insights are inspiring and actionable.  It can also help them harness consumer empathy gained on the ‘journey’ to frame clues into empowering and mentally-stimulating insight-springboards.

Our Insight Activation workshops will shape inspiring brand strategies and drive the creativity that stimulates breakthrough ideation!  So, shouldn’t you find out more today?

NPD Ideation with the Fab team at CyT
6 Sep 2017

NPD Ideation with the Fab team at CyT

There’s nothing like a high-energy, creative workshop to turbo-charge your innovation pipeline

We are thrilled to have been asked to help the lovely team at Concha y Toro the Chilean Winemaker to not just put together a brilliant U&A, but also help them kick off their innovation process with a new product ideation workshop.

Brilliant day + lovely team + quirky venue (ancient barn attached to country pub on the edge of a vineyard in the idyllic Stonor Valley) = lots of starter ideas!

You won’t find innovation success … if you’re not delivering against a real consumer need
6 Sep 2017

You won’t find innovation success … if you’re not delivering against a real consumer need

In innovation brakes #4 we look at a cause of many NPD failures.

It seems obvious but you would be amazed at the number of product launches pushed through that don’t meet a real consumer need.  Factory capacity, budget commitments and internal momentum don’t make a consumer want or buy a product.

A successful new innovation idea needs to build on a fundamental understanding of your consumers’ needs and motivations.  It then requires an ability to communicate the product proposition in a powerful and distinct way.

When you focus on the consumers’ needs, success will follow. Google know this well, they improved the speed of their search capability with predictive analysis, so search suggestions come up after the user types a few letters. This Instant Search feature saves the user a few micro-seconds each time. Google sales reps were concerned that this shortened the time consumers would view ads, but the company went ahead and believed that it was worth the risk. The result? Thanks to Instant Search, Google estimates the time saved is equivalent to 5,000 years, after a year of collective use! Google shows that if you create a great user experience the revenue will take care of itself and more consumers will be attracted to your product’s increased benefits.

The best way to ensure your innovation is delivering against a real consumer need is to get out and meet consumers. By conducting research at the point of consumption we can help you get beneath the surface of consumers wants, needs and motivations, finding penetrating insights and unmet needs. These insights and unmet needs should become the guiding lights of a successful innovation process. Equally, having met real consumers it’s much easier to ideate, and sense-check that the product ideas you are developing, really would appeal to the actual person you met. That way you can put consumer needs at the heart of your innovation process.