Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It is no secret that brands and companies are always on the hunt to elevate their presence in a competitive realm. Even the most recognizable brands are finding new ways to adapt to the sway of their consumers’ expectations to grow. However, some become too comfortable in a state of stagnation once they’ve reached the highest step on the winning podium.
Innovation is the lifeline of many companies, and to remain in stasis could eventually make your brand outdated. Thus, innovation is the key to growth that shouldn’t be overlooked. It doesn’t, however, have to be a drastic change that reinvents the wheel. Innovation can be subtle but significant, and there are many ways to achieve just that. Let’s explore the importance of easy ways to achieve innovation and how you can implement it into your internal strategy.
Related: 4 Ways to Drive Growth-Unlocking Internal Innovation in Your Organization
Keep your company competitive
When your business achieves significant success with its product or service, it becomes crucial to uphold the principle of continuous evolution at its core. While this may appear self-evident, it is a common occurrence for prosperous brands to fall into complacency, stagnating their innovation process. Periods of inertia often provide an opportunity for competitors to outperform them with superior versions of those very same products or services. To maintain a sustainable competitive edge, companies must keep innovation perpetually in motion. The next out-of-the-box idea is easier said than done — however, keeping your brand relevant and modern is a more subtle, but noticeable way to keep your brand in a constant state of renewal. The best way to achieve this is through a brand refresh.
In our digital design agency, we have witnessed first-hand that when we assist industries with brand rejuvenation, it often leads to a surge in conversions and audience growth. Whether it’s a minor tweak or a comprehensive transformation, modernizing your brand’s design language, website or marketing materials can be a potent form of innovation. This involves making forward-looking visual UI decisions that harmonize with your existing brand style, thereby ensuring your design is future-proof. Even something as simple as a logo refresh can be a powerful statement to your audience, signaling that your brand is keeping pace with the times. Every upgrade contributes to the ongoing evolution of your brand’s identity.
Updating your brand website with tweaks to usability and accessibility is also a great way to innovate. When your company considers all users of all abilities, it not only makes it a great experience for everyone, but it also demonstrates to your consumer base that their experience with your brand is also prioritized just as anyone else’s. Incorporating ADA-compliant standards into your website, color schemes, typography sizes, alt text incorporation and more are just a few ways to boost users’ experience.
Related: 3 Startups Making a Big Difference with Small Innovations
Make a difference with demographics
To truly ignite innovative thinking, fostering a culture of shared ideas and collaborative brainstorming is often the crucial catalyst to the next breakthrough concept. Consequently, it is vital for industry leaders to not only welcome but actively encourage input from their in-house teams.
This strategy may involve ensuring a diverse workforce, inclusive of both younger and older generations, to infuse a breadth of fresh perspectives and experiences that create a productive ground for ideas to thrive. Engaging team members from a younger demographic can be particularly beneficial, as they are typically current with the latest trends, user expectations and potentially outdated practices that the company might unwittingly still be employing. This collective knowledge and shared perspective can be the driving force behind meaningful and relevant innovation. According to UNICEF, hiring younger team members can help tap into the millennial and younger audiences since they are more attuned and familiar.
Further, innovation means growth and scalability. When you innovate for people of all demographics, you are expanding your audience base as well as growing your company’s conversions. Another best practice to achieve collaboration for fresh ideas is holding weekly idea sessions to share ideas internally on how to improve certain products or services based on client feedback and surveys. The crux here is to create an inclusive environment where every idea is heard and valued. Any dismissive attitude can rapidly quell team morale and stifle their enthusiasm for sharing their insights. Therefore, nurturing an open and receptive atmosphere is pivotal to driving successful and continuous innovation.
Related: Great Minds Think Unalike — 3 Ways to Drive True Innovation Through Diversity
Adopt a design-thinking mindset
Often utilized in the digital design industry, including our agency, design thinking can help the structure of the way ideas flow. Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that emphasizes human-centered design. Design thinking incorporates empathizing with user needs, defining problems, ideating ways to improve a problem/idea, prototyping, testing, then circling back in iterative increments. Design thinking fosters a collaborative environment where multidisciplinary teams work together to find solutions. This diversity of perspectives can lead to more innovative ideas and solutions for your brand.
Additionally, it emphasizes an iterative process. Ideas are tested and refined based on user feedback, leading to continuous improvement. This ensures your brand stays updated and resonates with evolving customer expectations. Concepts and ideas can become more defined and not simply live on as ideas but can be put into an actionable space to eventually flourish. By incorporating a design-thinking approach into your company, your team can view growth with a fresh perspective.
In the relentless pursuit of brand supremacy, companies must continuously innovate to keep pace with ever-evolving customer expectations and outdo the competition. However, the idea of innovation often connotes seismic shifts and grandiose changes. Instead, the reality is that innovation can, and often does, happen incrementally — through brand refreshes, website updates and diversity in demographic insights — in a subtle, but powerful approach.