The Innovation Box: anything but a Pandora’s box

7 min read
Aug 3, 2023 2:00:17 PM

Are you a brand manager? Would a cache of enchanted strategic formulas help you in these times of high inflation? It’s exactly what you need in an era of rising prices!

The ground under the feet of brand managers is heating up. It’s a challenging climate where you need to create value to keep clients satisfied. Remaining competitive often demands radical innovation. And that’s exactly what we’re offering you. Prepare yourself for an enlightening trip to an unexpected place: the Innovation Box.

But not before making a little detour to the painful context of today, which—unlike the Innovation Box—appears to have a lot in common with Pandora’s Box. Opened against all good advice, all kinds of disasters came bursting out of the mythical Pandora’s Box. And that, somewhat seamlessly, brings us to the current period of inflation. The continuous rising of general prices has already resulted in sky-high challenges for a lot of companies. Inflation hollows out purchasing power, creates insecurity and uncertainty, and destroys the market dynamic. The sharper the price rises, the sharper consumers become in their criticism. They demand, understandably, a lot more for their money. A demand that presents brand managers with a difficult challenge: how do you deliver more without increasing costs?

The Innovation Box: the affordable key to the door of increased value

The Innovation Box came into being two decades ago. It embodies the principles that were in full swing around the time of the millennium. The late 1990s and early 2000s were a golden era of innovation with the rise of digital technology, the introduction of new corporate models and the birth of brands that would develop into industry giants. 

Maybe today is the right time to re-examine and recycle these principles. Update them for the current climate and breathe new life into them. But what exactly are the principles that make up the Innovation Box? And how do brand managers draw benefits from them in a period of inflation? We sum everything up for you.

1.    Embrace disruption

The term ‘disruption’ became the buzzword at the start of the new millennium. It stands for the dismantling or tearing apart of an existing business status quo. It’s exactly what certain major brands (such as Amazon, Google and Netflix) have done. They’ve rewritten the rules and set new standards. 
As a modern-day brand manager, you can learn a lot from these pioneers. Embrace disruption, as they did, and redefine industry standards. This is how, for example, artificial intelligence (AI) plays a crucial role in the creation of disruptive innovations in today’s digital world. Make good use of the ability AI gives you to analyse mountains of data, generate insights and automate processes. Brand managers who have jumped on the gradually accelerating AI train are already a step ahead of the competition. They’re using the new technology to offer personalised, optimised customer experiences in real time. In doing so, they’re not just disrupting standards, but also creating a competitive advantage for themselves. Thanks to its start-up studio located in France within the HighCo group, we are working on integrating artificial intelligence into our operational marketing solutions. A great advantage for you to benefit by working together.

2.    Kickstart a culture of innovation

At the beginning of this millennium, innovation was anything but an empty term. It was not a sporadic, arbitrary exercise, but a genuine way of life. A great many companies surfed that wave. The wave of innovation, of taking risks, and of not backing away from occasional experiments. If today’s brand managers want to stay a step ahead of inflation, they need to immerse their teams in the culture we had back then. 

The power of innovation only comes into full effect when the innovation is also effectively communicated and promoted. With the rise of Netflix, not only the model of the platform was a game-changer, but also in the way that the now world-renowned streaming service brought its revolutionary approach to the market. 

As a brand manager, it’s a good idea to check the groundbreaking steps you want to take are not restricted to the control room. Bring your message outside with transparent, frequent and uplifting communication around the changes ahead of you. You’ll build up trust and confidence, and not just create a buzz, but also a strong brand affinity. This is why storytelling is so important. Think about which convincing tales you’ll tell and choose different promotional challenges to do this. With this communication strategy, you’re guaranteed to consolidate your innovative image and transform your clients into fiery brand ambassadors.

3.    Leadership steers the ship of innovation

Innovation won’t thrive in a vacuum. It needs to be given air. Preferably by a leader whose job it is to never relax. As a company leader, you need to embody the innovation with your entire soul. You need to be a pioneer who radiates the pioneering spirit on every level. This is the only way you’ll inspire your team members to dare to think outside the box, to challenge standards and break fresh ground. 

As a leader, you need to ensure that your entire organisation is steeped in this innovative spirit. Consistently communicate its importance and clearly point out its place in the growth of the company. And remember to reward team members who stand out for their innovative presentations. By doing so, you’ll create a powerful and far-reaching culture of innovation within your organisation. You need to be the intrepid torchbearer.

HighCo has put this innovative spirit at the heart of these values via the Frédéric Chevalier Prize. Launched in 2018 by the "HighCo pour Entreprendre Fund", this prize aims to support the bearer of a project by offering financial assistance and support from professionals in digital, communication, marketing of the offering as well as legal and strategic advice.

4.    Make the most of everything digital technology offers

The digital revolution came into its own in the late 1990s and early 2000s. An unmatched period, it came with a tsunami of innovations that landed one after another in a furious tempo. It’s vital for brand managers to be alert and, most certainly, make sure they don’t miss the boom taking place. Slow and steady will not win the race in this day and age. You’ll have no fans, no sales and no market value because the digital evolution will not slow down for anything. Every brand manager needs to avoid slamming on the brakes in fear, or claiming that things were better the way they were. 

It’s best not to look at the technological revolution as a threat. It’s the reluctance to embrace it that is the real danger. Don’t wait by the sidelines on your own, but be accepting of the invitations that come your way. Especially an invitation to innovate. Try to create alliances with others. Share your knowledge with each other and join forces. 

Instead of following the well-worn path, be prepared to rock the boat. This will undoubtedly draw negative responses at first. But new, confronting ideas do this, especially when they put established expectations out of balance. After surviving the first conflicts, the added value of a new idea will be recognised. Not just because it’s different and innovative. Use your youthful energy to continue rocking the boat while giving everyone sea legs. They’ll become accustomed to the to and fro and see how it enables them to maintain respect for the past. 

From the use of data analysis to the implementation of artificial intelligence for personalised marketing, digital technology can be a real game-changer.

5.    Put more focus on your clients and customers

Put the focus on marketing. Move from being product-oriented to customer-oriented. It’s only logical to commit even more strongly to this approach in times of inflation. Understanding the needs and expectations of clients and customers must be at the core of every innovation strategy. 

In a landscape of shared knowledge and open information, it’s almost too late for any companies that still adhere to the old pay-for-data model. This backward principle dates back to an era of gate-keeping and exclusivity that is completely at odds with the connected and collaborative world in which we now live. It’s time to throw the concept of paying for knowledge out the window. 

This is an age in which a new way of doing business reigns supreme: collaborative marketing. It’s an approach that’s based on mutual trust, the exchange of data, and collective growth. By bundling our resources and insights, we are in the position to create something that is far more useful than what any of us would be able to achieve on our own. The future belongs to those who want to work together. A future in which transparency is the codeword, and shared knowledge is the fuel for collective innovation and success. 

There is only one king in the business world. You guessed it: it’s the client. This is an inescapable law that every strategy, decision or innovation needs to be based on. Companies no longer have the power because it now lies in the hands of consumers. They have the last word on what works and what doesn’t, on what withers and what flourishes. Do what you need to do to better understand your clients and customers, to anticipate their needs and meet their expectations. Keep in mind that it’s not about what you want to sell, but about what they want to buy. In the eyes of your clients and customers, you’re not just a company, but an experience. And in our current experience-based economy, there’s only one currency that counts: customer satisfaction.

And so...

The conclusion of our story doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Innovation is not a choice, but a necessity. It’s time to open that Innovation Box from two decades ago, reclaim all that’s good and innovative, and adapt it to today’s context. Only by doing this will you, as a brand manager, avoid saddling your company with the disasters of Pandora’s Box. 

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