Al Reis wrote an excellent article in Advertising Age that captures its thesis in the title: Innovation Should Be Seen as a Tactic, Not a Business Strategy. Here are a few excerpts:
What makes a powerful automobile brand today is not innovation, but a narrow focus on an attribute or a segment of the market…
Innovations outside of a brand’s core position can undermine a brand…
Most brands don’t need innovations; they need focus. They need to figure out what they stand for (or what they could stand for) and then what they need to sacrifice to get there.
My take: I applaud Reis for introducing restraint in a really hot topic area (Look at my posts Customer Experience Innovation: As Simple As 1-2-3 and Trend Watch #4: Business Week “Innovation Predictions 2008.”) Executives get so enamored with “innovation” that they lose sight of the fact that it’s just a tool, not the ultimate objective. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a very powerful tool, but it needs to be used to support the brand strategy.
As I was thinking about where innovation can help the most, I thought about this Venn diagram that I used in a previous post:
Innovation works best in the overlapping areas on the diagram!
The bottom line: Get more from innovation by obsessing less about it.