Brand Innovation Begins With a Culture Shift

Monigle’s new Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation, Andy Woolard, shares his ideas on the mandate for brands to change consumer culture, their categories and internal behavior.

Today, change is not just a brand buzzword, it’s a deeply ingrained human expectation. Each time we open our phones we’re thrust into a revolution — new updates, options, experiences and behaviors driven by inventions and innovation we didn’t know existed just minutes before. Traditional institutions like retail, fast food and education reinvent themselves daily, ushering in new rituals and norms. Like no time before, our modern consumer culture puts a premium on always-evolving experiences and a mandate for brands to better our lives at a breakneck pace. So who, inside your organization, is leading that charge? If it’s not brand, then you may be behind the eight ball. Beth Comstock, CMO of GE, had the right idea when she stated, “Brand needs to be down in the trenches and marketing leadership needs to foster a culture of innovation that creates new products, new services, and new customers.”1

Brand leaders who foster a culture of change within the organization push their brands to the front end of a rapidly changing consumer culture. Take a moment and think of the contemporary brands you’d promote as most responsible for progressing our culture and changing the way you see your world. Likely, you can also name their founder or brand leader credited with elevating the brand to the top of your mind; Yvon Chouinard, Sheryl Sandberg. Hamdi Ulukaya, Tinker Hatfield, Elon Musk, and Arianna Huffington to name a few.

Though occupying different industries and addressing very different consumer environments, these brand leaders share a common trait: They are change agents that go beyond creating a new widget or service and aim to evolve the cultures of their own teams and those of their customers. Put simply, they spark change by beginning within, inspiring an authentic openness to and conversation around change. This foundation better readies organizations to imagine and act on future opportunities and enables brand leaders to execute the type of breakthrough ideas consumers crave.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a brand leader that doesn’t aspire to champion this type of impact, but actually doing it is a whole other thing. Shifting culture both internally and for your consumer requires a different way of thinking: continual vs. linear, progression vs. permanence. In practice, this looks like quickly moving from imagining the opportunities to creating, and continually optimizing, solutions. One of the ways to bring this approach to life is through the 4 I’s Framework – Imagination, Invention, Innovation, Iteration – shown below:Picture1

When this process becomes part of company culture, the result is more nimble, action-oriented internal behavior and for your customers. Brands that routinely use this process include:

Picture2

In a time when change may be the only constant, will you set your sights on the status quo or create culture-advancing change and better your customers’ lives by breaking new ground?

Andy Woolard

Andy joins Monigle after a career in advertising, strategic consulting, social start-ups and, most recently, a four-year span as founder of Woolard Brandwork, an innovation and strategy consultancy advising global, aspirational consumer brands. He’s been a key advisor to companies across diverse categories, including: Absolut Vodka, Malibu Rum, Pernod-Ricard, The North Face, The Country of Sweden, Oakley, Powershares by Invesco, Sonic Drive-Ins, Nestlé Waters, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Dawn Foods.

With experience across many types of organizations and consulting models, he’s seen firsthand that innovation is nothing without realization, which is why Monigle’s unique marriage of insight, strategy, design and implementation yielded a perfect foundation from which to redefine the future of brand innovation.

1 Source: Marketing in a Tech Company: An Interview with Beth Comstock – cmosurvey.org